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How CRM for Insurance Creates Unexpected (and Important) Business Opportunities

June 10th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The insurance industry is in an exciting stage of transition – and as with any transition, challenges and opportunities go hand-in-hand.

Rising competition, rising customer switching, tighter margins – insurance companies face greater pressure on finding the right distribution channels, delivering exemplary customer service, and keeping business costs low.

Just as technology has empowered consumers in their search for the right insurance company, technology also empowers insurance companies to get an inside business advantage. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system – such as CRM for Insurance – is a particularly useful tool for keeping tabs on customer engagement.

But there are other unique business advantages for insurance industries using CRM – check out our three examples below.

Easier to Adjust to Industry Demographic Changes

Insurance industry demographics are shifting from Baby Boomers to Generation Y (also known as “millenials”) – if insurance companies aren’t able to identify the new insurance audience, and tailor their interactions and communications to best suit that audience, they will miss out on crucial business.

For instance, millenials are more comfortable with engagement through technology than older generations – in fact, they prefer it. According to Gallup, millenials are more than twice as likely (27% vs. 11%, respectively) as all other generations to purchase their policies online rather than through an agent. This comfort with technology also means that millenials want to be able to access information quickly, and that they will search exhaustively on the Internet before turning to a rep.

Family relationships are also important to leverage when working with millenials. Many millenials choose to be covered under a family member’s plan, and they are also more likely to choose an insurance company that their family members use.

CRM for Insurance provides insurance companies a 360-degree view of the customer with in-depth customer records, containing a customer’s contact information, the policies that the customer has, as well as any previous interactions between the customer and the company.

CRM for Insurance also allows companies to identify more personal information about the customer, such as birthday, relationships between customers (such as if a customer is the parent or child or a customer, or a spouse, etc.), special anniversaries, etc. As customers have grown to expect more personalized service, this information enables insurance companies to more effective cross-sell and up-sell to individuals with targeted communications and offers.

CRM for Insurance

CRM for Insurance enables insurance companies to input and track customer’s personal information, which can be leveraged for more personalized, worthwhile communication.

Explore New Distribution Channels

The traditional insurance distribution model meant that agents and brokers were the primary drivers behind insurance customers’ purchases – they were the ones with all the information. But not anymore – customers now turn first to the Internet to answer questions, get more information, and research companies.

Insurers that start creating online distribution channels gain an important advantage over their less technologically savvy competition. With a greater web presence, insurers are able to attract more of the customers who make the Internet a key part of their decision-making, and product-buying, processes.

But that doesn’t mean that agents and brokers are becoming completely obsolete. Agents and brokers are another important part of a customer’s research gathering, because if an answer to a question can’t be found online, an agent needs to be prepared to respond quickly when the customer reaches out to him.

And with more customers using their smartphones as their research tools, insurers also need to make their selling mobile-friendly – from an agent’s outreach, to a piece of marketing collateral.

CRM for Insurance enables insurers to track all touch-points with a customer – from a query that was emailed, to an incoming phone call, etc. – providing greater visibility into the customer’s needs, and a useful interaction history for future reference. CRM for Insurance even allows agents to track text messages that are sent to the customer.

CRM for Insurance

CRM for Insurance tracks all touch-points made with a customer, such as phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.

Attract – and Retain – Talented Employees

Companies that are renowned for innovation, cutting-edge solutions, and excellence easily draw talented people from the job-hunting pool – people want to work for exciting, pioneering companies. The insurance industry, unfortunately, has a reputation of being stodgy, uptight, and resistant to new ways of doing things, which can make it difficult recruiting for positions.

Good recruitment is especially essential in that the insurance industry’s workforce is rapidly approaching retirement age – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 50% of the industry’s workforce is above the age of 45. To prevent a skills gap from occurring (which would drain customers, and in turn, drain revenues), insurers need to develop strategies for enticing tech-savvy millennials – the next workforce generation – into pursuing careers in the industry.

By embracing new technology that helps better serve customers, insurers can debunk the stereotypes. Making technology the cornerstone of industry-leading customer service initiatives helps insurers advertise company progressiveness and agility, and also the company’s commitment to operating at the highest level.

Making an Impact with CRM

CRM for Insurance ensures that insurers keep their sales and marketing tighter and more focused despite customer and industry shifts, and thus a useful tool for recruitment – giving companies an important competitive edge.

For more information on CRM for Insurance, or how Ignify can enhance your business processes, please email insurance@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Which Should You Choose: A SAAS or an On-Premise eCommerce Solution?

June 8th, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Cloud computing and a highly competitive business arena have made SAAS – Software as a Service – solutions popular among business owners (particularly small- to medium-sized business owners). eCommerce businesses can greatly benefit from such SAAS solutions, and this post attempts to lay out the benefits and disadvantages of both SAAS and on-premise eCommerce solutions to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Availability and deployment: As compared to on-premise software solutions, SAAS solutions are more quickly available and can be easily deployed. On-premise solutions may take weeks or even months to deploy from the time you decide to invest in an ecommerce solution for your business. The SAAS solutions do not involve receiving any installation package from the provider, installation of CDs, or involvement of a dedicated IT department to ensure smooth installation and deployment of the software etc. SAAS solutions are available over the internet, and business owners can begin using them simply by signing in within minutes.
  2. Hardware/IT infrastructure requirements: On-premise solutions usually require the business owner to maintain some dedicated hardware and invest towards its regular maintenance and upgrade as per the ecommerce solution’s requirements. While larger businesses might not require any additional hardware procurement, or new procurement might not be an issue, for smaller businesses purchasing and maintaining hardware can mean additional costs that they would rather avoid. SAAS solutions are available over the cloud and do not require the business owner to make any additional investments. The infrastructural requirements are thus significantly reduced.
  3. Solution upgrades: Traditional on-premise installations require the business owner to keep track of and manage software upgrades at his end. This can be a cumbersome activity if a dedicated IT department is not available and if the solution provider is not proactive in providing the upgrades or new releases to the business owner. In comparison, a SAAS solution is maintained entirely by the provider and all upgrades are automatically available to the business owner.
  4. Costing: It follows from the earlier points that SAAS solutions are relatively cheaper to procure and maintain as compared to on-premise installations. With limited hardware requirements, licensing fees, upgrade and maintenance charges, the overall cost of a SAAS solution is significantly reduced. SAAS solutions can also be available as free trials initially, further reducing the costs for the business owner.
  5. Free trials: As mentioned earlier, SAAS solutions are increasingly being offered with a free trial period. These free trials allow the business owner to experience the solution first hand and make an informed decision about if the solution is suited for his business, and if he should make a long-term investment in it. On-premise solutions usually offer only a snapshot of what is available and require the business owner to make a commitment before he can get the whole picture. This could at times mean failed investments as the solution may not fit the business requirements completely.
  6. Customization: With on-premise solutions the business owner can get a customized solution tailored to suit his unique business requirements. The solution provider can make significant modifications to the product and guarantee a perfect fit for the business. However, this may involve additional costs and longer time to deployment. SAAS solutions, on the other hand, may not always render themselves to customization, leaving the business owner dissatisfied with his purchase.
  7. Internet connectivity and performance issue: As SAAS solutions are provided via cloud, your internet availability and speed may hamper the overall performance of the solution. In-house servers and applications usually guarantee greater speed and performance, thereby making on-premise solutions a better option. However, SAAS providers are increasingly overcoming the reliance on internet, and some solutions can now be accessed even when offline or at slower internet speeds.
  8. Data security: As on-premise solutions use in-house servers and other hardware, the concerns of data security are greatly reduced. The business owner has more control over his solution and greater knowledge of who has access to data, or who it is being shared with. In comparison, SAAS solutions are hosted over the cloud and storing sensitive data on third-party servers can be a risky proposition. However, SAAS providers are seen to be increasingly working on reducing these security concerns, and SAAS solutions are now beginning to be a lot more secure than previously imagined.

While each type of solution has its advantages and disadvantages, the Ignify eCommerce solution attempts to reduce the gap between the two, and is available both as a SAAS as well as an on-premise solution, and guarantees complete customer satisfaction in both cases.

Irrespective of whether you are an on-premise or SAAS customer, the Ignify eCommerce solution can be easily installed/deployed, store data securely, provide regular upgrades, is customizable, and works both online and offline without compromising the solution’s performance. Based upon your business requirements, we provide you the best solution that is affordable and easy to use. To learn more about our product, please contact ecommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Is Your POS System Truly Modern?

June 3rd, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Retail businesses, no matter how big or small, have come a long way from the cash register days to web-based POS systems that give greater control to the POS operator.

With a variety of POS players in the market and rapid advances in technology, it is easy for businesses to be confused or settle for a lesser system that does not give the complete benefits of a POS system. We have discussed how to choose a good POS system in a previous post. This post points out some important consequences of using an outdated POS system.

  1. Delays in the checkout process: A slow moving checkout line can frustrate even the best of us, and thus lead to lost sales. Customers greatly value – and therefore come back to – stores with a fast checkout process that is not riddled with avoidable delays. A POS system that is not easy to operate can cause the POS operator to spend longer on processing/completing a sales order, leading to disgruntled customers and fewer sales, and possibly even bad word-of-mouth. All of this could easily have been avoided, however, with an efficient POS system that is easy to use even for a first-time POS operator.
  2. Limited payment options: These days even in-store retail customers like to have multiple payment options available to them, and having such a variety available increases your chances of completing a sale successfully. An up-to-date POS system would let you accept both online and offline payments such as cash, credit card, and check, along with other options such as gift card, vouchers, credit notes etc. You would not have to turn away a customer just because he does not have enough cash on hand or balance on his card, if your POS system is equipped to process multiple payment methods for a single order.
  3. Inability to provide personalized customer service: Even for a retail customer at the checkout counter, personalized service that offers exclusive discounts or loyalty benefits is important. A good POS system lets you offer special discounts/offers to individual customers that are customized as per their purchasing habits or brand loyalty. Creating such discounts is feasible only if the POS system allows the POS operator to store customer data, and pull up discounts set up at the POS backend based on mobile phone number, or email ID, etc. 
  4. Gaps in data integration: For the POS operator, an up-to-date POS system that integrates sales order and customer information with your backend ERP system can make the difference between good and average customer service. If your frontend and backend systems are not in sync, customer and inventory data cannot be utilized to its fullest potential. Just as your POS operator will be limited to simply processing a standard sales order, your backend team would not be able to utilize information to create targeted marketing strategies that are essential to meet your business goals.
  5. Loss of sales due to internet issues: Outdated POS systems can prevent your POS operators from processing sales orders, or from accepting certain types of orders and payment methods simply because the internet connection is down. Conversely, an efficient POS system lets your sales order processing continue seamlessly irrespective of whether you are online or offline, including processing all types of payments, applying discounts, collecting customer data, etc. Such a system will sync back all the information to the backend ERP and ensure your inventory and accounts databases are updated as soon as you are back online.

Ignify provides a comprehensive retail solution that includes a competitive POS system that caters to the requirements of all types of retail businesses, as well as ecommerce channels. The solution can be used across multiple terminals and store locations, thereby allowing you to maintain a uniform system across stores and not worry about your customer’s checkout experience as your business expands.

To learn more about Ignify’s retail systems, contact us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.