The insurance business is constantly changing and evolving, but at no time has the pace of change been quicker than during the pandemic. Like many businesses, insurance agencies were suddenly thrust into an environment where working from home offices became the norm and virtual meetings replaced in-person client calls. But while some agencies struggled to adapt, Neckerman Insurance kept moving forward.
“We are very good at embracing change,” says Megan Wencel, Operations and Marketing Manager of the Madison, Wisconsin-based agency. “For years we have been using technology to make our agency work more efficiently, so going remote wasn’t as much of a disruption as it might otherwise have been.”
That seamless transition was important for the agency to stay focused on its mission of protecting its personal and commercial clients. “Our tagline is ‘Insuring Your Success,’” says agency President Doug Dittmann. “It truly is our belief and desire to do all we can to help our clients succeed in everything they do.”
One of the tech tools the agency leveraged both during and before the pandemic is social media. Wencel joined the agency in 2009 in part to manage the agency’s online presence.
“We’ve focused on being active on Facebook, YouTube, all the directories, any place that we could be,” she says. “Being an early adopter has really helped us in terms of our search engine rankings today. It also helped us have multiple communication channels established with customers so that, when COVID hit, we could get information out quickly in different ways.”
In addition to using technology to communicate with customers, the agency has focused on driving internal efficiency and sales growth through multiple systems, including Zywave for agency management, miEdge for prospecting, Zoom for training, and DocuSign for esignatures. Neckerman Insurance also began compiling Net Promoter Scores last year and uses feedback from that process to reach out to customers and enhance client interactions.
“We are doing our part to push the insurance industry into the 21st century,” Dittmann says, adding that the insurance business has undergone a fundamental transformation since he joined the agency in 1983.
“Insurance products and markets are more complex. You have to get to know your insurance companies and clients better than ever before, which is a good thing because it ensures you place clients with the right company,” he says. “We know if we’re taking the time to constantly validate our knowledge, we’re going to continue to write and hold on to business.”
Despite all the changes that have taken place in the industry, Dittmann says that one thing hasn’t changed.
“At its foundation, this business truly is about people and developing personal relationships. Fortunately, we have a fantastic staff who are committed to building those relationships. They are great at service and sales—responding to people quickly and really going above and beyond,” he says, adding that the agency writes about one of every three prospects it markets.
“We’re extremely proud of that success rate,” he says. “Our retention rate is also well above the industry standard, and that speaks to the service we provide beyond the price.”
Neckerman Insurance is a generalist agency, with about 60 percent of its book in commercial lines and 40 percent in personal lines. “That has proven to be a good mix for us,” Dittmann says. “A lot of our commercial business actually comes from what we do on the personal side and the attention we give our customers. When those customers become business owners or the insurance buyer at their company, they look to us for commercial insurance.”
The agency plans steady, controlled growth in the years ahead. “We’ll grow by doing our homework, using the skills and strategy that have made us the agency we are today,” says Dittmann, adding that no matter what changes the future brings, the agency will adapt while never losing sight of its core purpose.
“When you have the opportunity to help someone put their life back together again after a claim, there’s a great feeling to that,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for.”