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What’s the difference between an AMS and a CRM?

May 4, 2023 by ClientCircle

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You rely on technology to help your daily insurance operations run smoothly. But those daily tasks take up a lot of time, making it hard to stay up to date with insurance tech tools. Two types of software that frequently get mixed up are your agency management system (AMS) and your customer relationship management (CRM) system. We’ll break down what each one does and what to look for when evaluating different platforms.

What is an AMS?

Your AMS is where you get carrier downloads, track prospect and client contact information, store policy details, track commissions and keep account notes. Many management systems do more than just these basic tasks, but, at its core, a management system is a database of information about clients, their policies and leads. A management system built specifically for insurance, known as an AMS, is made with insurance agents in mind to help you perform daily tasks.

What’s a CRM?

A CRM is a tool for communicating with clients and prospects. The key word here is “relationship.” A CRM helps you build relationships with your contacts by using the data you have on them. The types of communications will vary depending on your CRM, but will generally include emails, texts, postal mail, etc. A CRM is focused on nurturing relationships to help improve prospect conversion, client retention and cross-selling.

Do I need both?

If you want to grow your agency and make your daily operations more efficient—yes.

Although many agency management systems have some communication capabilities, they are often limited. That’s why so many agencies choose to add a CRM. By integrating both tools, you can have the best of both worlds: good data and meaningful communications that help you grow your agency.

Think of it this way, your AMS stores all the critical data for you while your CRM uses that data to nurture relationships, reach out to clients for renewals, cross-sell policies, track referrals and, as a result, sell more business. A good CRM will also automate your workflows and processes so you can focus on other important tasks.

What to look for in an AMS

  • Industry specific. You want a management system made specifically for insurance. If you use a non-industry-specific management system to track customer information, you run the risk of not being able to download policy data, track commissions and keep track of other insurance-specific information.
  • Can accommodate the right data. Once you’ve found an insurance AMS, make sure you can track the information you need beyond the basics. You should be able to enter referral sources, business information for commercial accounts, birthdays, spouse information, effective dates, term lengths, policy sub-statuses, X dates, commissions and general notes about your customers and prospects.
  • Integrates with other tools. Finally, you want your agency management system to connect to other tools. If the management system you’re considering doesn’t offer integrations with third-party tools, that’s a red flag that the technology is outdated and won’t be functional as your agency grows and as new tools enter the market.

What to look for in a CRM

  • Industry specific. Once again, look for a CRM made for insurance. A generic CRM isn’t going to be able to easily accommodate claims, payments, renewals, prospecting and other insurance-specific information easily. It’s going to take a lot more work to integrate a CRM with your AMS if it’s not designed to handle insurance processes.
  • Improves employee workflows. The variety of tasks your CRM can handle is also important. Is it able to create workflows and notify you when you need to take action? Will you be able to build an automated process, for example, an onboarding workflow or a cross-selling campaign easily?
  • Multi-channel. Not everyone likes to communicate the same way, and your CRM should accommodate different communication channels your customers and prospects may prefer. If the CRM you’re considering can only send emails, you’ll miss out on people who rarely check their email and would prefer a text instead. And some occasions call for something special. Look for a CRM that can send handwritten cards for customers’ birthdays and to thank your referral sources.
  • Provides insights based on data. Does your CRM come with analytics to help you make informed decisions? You shouldn’t have to guess if something is working. Your CRM should provide you with feedback on what you can improve based on specific goals you set for each campaign.
  • Integrates with other tools. Finally, consider how your CRM will work with other tools beyond your AMS. For example, are you able to start an automatic campaign with your CRM based on a quote request someone submits on your website? Always look for tools that work well with other tools and for tech vendors that are excited for third-party integrations. A good CRM will make your life easier.

Support is critical

This applies to any software you choose. Any tool you buy for your agency should come with support when you need it from people who understand the software and the insurance industry.

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