What To Consider When Comparing Agency Software
When you’re evaluating software choices for your insurance agency, make sure to look beyond the basic features.
Features rarely tell the whole story. Features can easily be copied, added enhanced, or removed by the platform. Features need to tie to direct benefits within your agency.
In this comparison of AgencyZoom vs Better Agency, we’re going to evaluate three points of differentiation.
First, we’re going to look at three key feature differences. Second, we’re going to compare the business operations of AgencyZoom vs Better Agency. Third, we will discuss the core philosophical differences between the two companies.
3 Major Feature Differences
1: Built-in SMS/MMS Texting: Both platforms include texting features. With Better Agency, all of the texting capabilities are built into the platform. With AgencyZoom, a user must set up an account with a 3rd party text provider and go through the steps to integrate the two together.
The differences revolve around an agent’s desired workflow. With Better Agency, we’ve chosen to make this feature as efficient as possible by having everything built natively into the software.
2: IVANS policy downloads and pre-filled Acord forms: AgencyZoom is strictly a CRM. They have publically stated that they will not become an AMS platform. Instead, they were purchased by one of the larger AMS platforms in Vertafore. As a result, they do not receive policy downloads from IVANS. They also cannot generate pre-filled Acord forms.
Better Agency can receive policy downloads and can generate pre-filled Acord applications and certificates.
The main strategy from AgencyZoom relies on integrating directly with current AMS platforms, whereas the strategy from Better Agency is to include everything in one system.
The reason Better Agency has chosen to build this into their system rather than integrating is that the technology platforms of the current AMS systems are outdated.
What is typically available from current AMS platforms is a one-way data push. The data that is able to be pulled out of an AMS is often limited. Another concern we have noticed is how likely it is for integrations to break. If the AMS platform makes any significant changes or updates, it often leads to problems with the integrations.
Another question to ask is how likely other AMS platforms to continue their integration with AgencyZoom now that they are owned by Vertafore? All indications are that the integrations are currently safe, however, that can change. Better Agency learned the hard way that it’s better to have more control over these possible failure points and include the features directly inside of the system.
3: Built-in marketing automation campaigns: The marketing automation experience is different in AgencyZoom vs Better Agency. With Better Agency over 100 different automation campaigns for text, email, and task management are built-in. There is nothing you need to do except upload your clients and contacts. The campaigns are editable. In AgencyZoom, you need to access their template library for one-off templates.
A major point of differentiation according to our users who switched from AgencyZoom is the work that goes into setting up your campaigns. Better Agency users enjoy having the system work “out of the box” and didn’t enjoy the process of creating campaigns from templates. According to our users, it was difficult and wasted a lot of their time to operate under the current campaign set up of AgencyZoom.
Different Ways Of Doing Business
AgencyZoom was recently acquired by Vertafore. Vertafore has a long-standing reputation for its business practices with independent agents. At the time of this article, AgencyZoom does not require a contract for their CRM. It is our belief that will change and buying AgencyZoom will look and feel like the other Vertafore products that do require a signed contract.
Better Agency does ask new users to sign a 1-year agreement. The reason we do that is that we need to establish a partnership between Better Agency and your agency. Better Agency is committed to “agency success”. We dedicate a lot of time, energy, resources and manpower to make sure users have everything they need in order to successfully use the platform.
Each new user is provided one-on-one onboarding for themselves and their staff. One-on-one support sessions are also available throughout the term and as often as users need. Better Agency is “all in” with its commitment to users. A signed agreement tells us that users are also committed to the process.
The key differences between Vertafore and Better Agency revolve around how the contract will be enforced. Will it be used as a choke chain, or a mutual commitment by both parties? We know that agents do not want to switch software systems multiple times a year. The contract is as much a mental frame of mind as it is a legal document.
Philosophical Differences In The Way We Think About The Product
When evaluating AgencyZoom vs Better Agency for your agency, you need to consider the product philosophy. AgencyZoom is a single-point solution. Better Agency is an “all-in-one” solution.
Single-point software solutions provide a single solution. In AgencyZoom’s case, they operate as a CRM. The goal for systems like AgencyZoom is to integrate with as many other single-point solutions as possible. Going back to our point above about integrations and their unreliability, we believe a major problem in the insurance agency space today is the amount of fragmented, single-point solutions. Our product philosophy is to have as many core components operating in one single platform. This philosophy is our subjective opinion on what software should be in the insurance industry. It is how we think about creating the product.
What You Should Know
You should know there will always be “cheaper”, “newer” software choices. The race to the bottom is similar to the way you hope your insureds never think about insurance.
You should know the costs, but the costs and shiny features should only be a part of the conversation. Make sure you’re thinking about the bigger picture when evaluating software. The idea is that you won’t have to change your platforms too often and you can have a partner in your agency success.
Cheap software is cheap for a reason. When software companies compete on price what they are really saying is “we don’t intend on investing in our product, support, or future.”
You need to consider software partners who will be around tomorrow, and have an interest stake in your agency success.