Doreen Black and Marla Hutchings
Neal Dastrup Insurance
The system is extremely user friendly. Most of our agents couldn’t use [the previous system] at all so they constantly had to get someone to look data up for them. On Partner XE they can now do it by themselves with little to no training. The search features are also far better than they were in [the old system.] There are so many ways to find something. The merging… amazing.
The Neal Dastrup Insurance Agency is a family owned agency with offices in Provo, Pleasant Grove, and Orem, Utah. Although all three locations share the same name, the same technology and the same vendors, each individual office has sole ownership over its own book of business. In essence, the offices run independently of one another. In the last 10 or so years, they have grown considerably through the acquisition of three smaller agencies and the plan is to continue to grow along the same path.
In the summer of 2013, after two years fighting an agency management system that required too many clicks to get anything done and a company where poor service was the norm, they collectively made the decision to switch to Partner XE from SIS.
SIS independently interviewed Marla Hutchings, Office Manager for the Provo office and Doreen Black, Customer Service Manager for the Orem office to get their feedback on the implementation process as well as their overall thoughts on their experiences with Partner XE and SIS.
Excerpts from those interviews can be found here:
Doreen: There were so many reasons it is almost hard to count. Our previous system wasn’t user friendly. If you ever had issues with it, good luck getting someone to call you and fix it. It was very cumbersome and the number of clicks it took to get any thing done was obscene. Reports were also an issue. You needed a degree in programming just to figure out how to run a report.
Marla: We lived with a large well-known online system for 2 years and simply couldn’t tolerate it any longer. Every single person at every single branch hated it. We called it the “clicking program.” It seemed like it took 20 clicks before an action could be completed. The program was loaded with bells and whistles, however, the bells and whistles mean nothing if the basic functioning of the program is flawed, inefficient, and cumbersome – which it was. We were paying a lot of money for an inefficient program!
Marla: We had purchased the previous system on the recommendation of a co-worker and made an emotional decision. This time we did our homework. We formed a task team with people from each of our branches and went onsite to different agencies that were using the systems we were interested in. We were looking for ease of use, affordability, the ability to grow and a company that would be willing to work with us.
Doreen: We looked at several different management systems, but when I saw the first demonstration of Partner XE, I felt like I could start working in the program “right now.” It is very user friendly. I really felt like I could just use it not knowing anything about it.
Marla: The process was fairly seamless. The team that helped us – Stacy and Shelly – their skills and ability and attention to detail were amazing. Their response time was incredible.
Doreen: My first impression was that it was almost seamless. The transfer of information was amazing. There were some issues with the downloads but to Shelly and Stacy, it was as if there was no issue at all. There was an attitude that everything was fixable. Anything we had a concern about was fixed immediately.
Marla: Our previous transition was a nightmare. When the information came over it was unusable. It literally took three months of cleaning up and we were never able to get it completely cleaned up. The support was awful. Hold times were awful. We never got the same person twice. When you are in the honeymoon period of learning and operating in a new system, the last thing you expect to contend with is an unstable system – and we had to contend with this on a regular basis. Very frustrating!
Part of the reason the Partner XE transition was easier was because we knew what to ask and what to watch out for since we been through it once before. The real difference was in the education and support, though. Stacy and Shelly were available quickly whenever we needed them and were very focused on helping us think long term.
Doreen: The system is extremely user friendly. Most of our agents couldn’t use [the previous system] at all so they constantly had to get someone to look data up for them. On Partner XE they can now do it by themselves with little to no training. The search features are also far better than they were in [the old system.] There are so many ways to find something. The merging… amazing. We have been able to clean up the database so much by being able to update and merge clients together. The process in the old system was so time consuming that the database was inaccurate. The process for downloads takes a half an hour vs. the 2-3 hours it took every day before. The amount of time that it takes to enter clients is also about 50% faster. The process of attaching an email into the system is awesome. It is so fast that I can attach them as they come in which eliminates hours of transferring emails at the end of the week. It literally takes thirty seconds—before it was 3-5 minutes and that was only if it was working.
Doreen: The Outlook integration … if I had to pick a favorite that would be it. Then reports. I also like the fact that I can quickly go in and see what each of my employees has been doing—if they are doing it the way we want them to do, in the right format, etc.
Marla: The organization and layout of the system is a big plus. I like the capability of being able to search. You can find things easily and at any level you want… client level, policy level and individual level. Certificates are also super easy compared to the old system.
Doreen: Absolutely. Now all of our offices can manage their downloads including cancellations. Before, all the downloads went through one office and if they didn’t have someone there doing it that day you didn’t get the data or cancellations. Before if there wasn’t a client created before a download it dropped into the first entity, and created inaccurate data that was a nightmare to fix. Now if there is no client Partner XE automatically creates the client for you and drops the data. If it is a duplicate, it lets you know so you can address it.
Doreen: Before we had one database for all the offices. Now, that database is separated by entity. Although we can go look for a client in another entity if needed, we are not managing the details of one another’s clients. The search features work better and faster since we are only searching our entity for the data.
Also, before, when data downloaded incorrectly or into the incorrect entity it was almost impossible to correct. All users had to be logged out of the system for the client to be moved from one entity to another. To move a client to the correct entity, all 26 users had to be logged out and only one person had the access to make those changes. That resulted in a snowball effect of inaccurate data that we are still cleaning up. But, with Partner XE, we now have the ability to clean up all the issues the previous database caused.
Marla: Shelly and Stacy hands down. They are very well educated with their product knowledge of the program and the ins and outs of the program. They have an ability and a willingness to think through every problem/question presented to them. They don’t only resolve/answer the issue at hand, but they think long term and try to prevent or resolve long term issues as well.
Doreen: There are so many things it is hard to narrow it down to one. It has just changed the entire office structure because of how much easier and faster the process is. We can now grow our business without adding additional payroll. I can get more done with the same people because it takes at least 30% less time to get the data entry into Partner XE than it did in the old system.
Time and money are the largest factors. Not only does it save us time, which saves payroll, but Partner XE is about 60% less expensive than the other system.
Lastly, the people – we love them all… Not only do you have a great program, but also the people are amazing, responsive, educated about the program, and always maintain a positive attitude.