In 1999 when a group of agents approached ACORD to establish the ACORD User Groups Information Exchange, or “AUGIE,” we started the process of establishing a community to drive agency efficiency for the automated Independent Agents. Throughout the years, AUGIE has done surveys, hosted webinars, and sponsored a multitude of calls and face-to-face meetings.
Our number of followers has grown from under 50 participants to over 700 individuals from all organizations that touch our distribution channel: insurance carriers, technology providers, associations and third-party providers. We’ve validated, through a number of reports provided by IVANS, a division of Applied, that our involvement in promoting implementation and submitting maintenance requests to enhance the ACORD data standards is growing the number of carriers offering solutions, and agents using them!
Our current challenge has become: how do we expand our outreach beyond those 700 plus followers? Our solution: we formed the AUGIE Ambassador program to officially recognize those individuals who are communicating to their network of followers.
“It's people talking to other people who really make an impact on our success,” states Cal Durland, CPCU, Director of Industry Affairs and AUGIE leader at ACORD. “Many of our Ambassadors are well known and respected within their networks, thus providing us with the opportunity to share information in person, versus through an article, webinar or video clip.”
For about seven years we had the Real Time Campaign, which was supported by our industry, AUGIE and ACT. Joyce Sigler and Stu Durland were the co-chairs when we all agreed that the campaign had run its course. But that didn’t mean that these two well-respected individuals would stop advocating for workflow efficiencies! Today, they are the co-chairs of the AUGIE Ambassador program, and they continue to share information about :
- Activity Notifications, the ability to have data from a carrier's system systematically added to a client’s record in an agency management system, versus having to handle an email or fax, or log into a carrier’s website.
- Commercial Lines Download, which eliminates hours of staff time previously used to keystroke data into their systems,
- Direct Bill Commission Download, which sends monthly transactions directly to an agent's agency management system, and can save agencies up to 15% of their payroll via significantly less keystroking, and
- Continued Real Time opportunities by carriers, continuing to offer more and more features and value.
“When I share information and stories about how technology has made it easier for me to service my clients, during my presentations, people come up to me after to hear more about how they can act on my ideas,” states Joyce Sigler, Vice President at Jones & Wenner. “We need to reduce the routine tasks and costs in our industry. For example. let’s eliminate paper, shipping and handling costs. Most agencies don’t realize it could cost them on average $100 per policy to mail documents to their clients, versus use today’s eSignature technology to package and process documentation electronically.”
“We need to provide service the way our clients want to be serviced. When I went through the process to become a Best Practices Agency in 2013, it really opened my eyes to the potential that all the tools available to us today make on the efficiency and growth of our agency,” states Stu Durland, Vice President of Operations at Seely &Durland. “We use our system the way it has been designed to be used, let our customers secure quotes from our website, and if they want to receive service at 3:00 AM, they can secure it through our 24/7 access on our website. “
There are now over 50 individuals who have committed to be AUGIE Ambassadors, but we know that there are many more people who share their experiences with others as the opportunities arise. You too could become an AUGIE Ambassador! Start today by posting an excerpt from this article on your social network, then completing the form at http://bit.ly/AUGIEAmbassador
. This will add you to our registry. If we grow the number of AUGIE Ambassadors to over 700 individuals, think of how many people we could reach! You will be doing your part to ensure the successful future of the automated Independent Agencies.