Find the Right CRM Software for Your Long-Term Care Business

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Tracking the details involved with running a long-term care insurance (LTCI) business is a challenge. You need to manage people — prospects, clients, agents and staff — applications, commissions and policies. The right software can make the job easier, while the wrong software can add another layer of complexity and headaches.

Keeping it simple

The good news is that you don’t have to go all-out and adopt leading-edge software if a less comprehensive and often less expensive application gets the job done. That’s the approach taken by Lawrence Vivenzio, director of marketing, sales and customer relations at LTC Consultants in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Vivenzio uses Act! contact management software to track the firm’s LTCI clients. Act! has been on the market since 1987, and while Vivenzio says it has less functionality than some of the newer customer relationship management (CRM) programs, it meets his needs. The software provides a central location for notes and tasks to help manage the agency’s workflow.

Another benefit is the ability to customize screens to display the data and format he wants. “I created fields like policy number, elimination period, the monthly benefit, inflation, name, address, phone number, agent, carrier, application, signature, date, state, things like that,” Vivenzio says. “You can create those pages to do whatever you need them to do.”

Managing more details

Melissa Barnickel, CPA, CLTC, a managing partner with Baygroup Insurance LLC in Monkton, Maryland, spent considerable time evaluating CRM systems. Her initial CRM did not work out as planned, which forced her to go through the software evaluation process a second time. She ultimately chose the cloud-based SmartOffice insurance module from Ebix CRM, which specializes in applications for financial advisors, insurance agents and brokerage/general agencies.

Barnickel uses the software to track prospects, clients, calendars and commissions for multiple producers and multiple lines of insurance business. The program’s reports assist with marketing, as well. For example, she can request reports showing which clients and prospects are approaching age 64 ½ so that she can contact them about Medicare supplements. The remote access feature allows her to work from any location.

“They have an app so I have it on my iPhone; even when I’m out of the office, I can access my system,” she says. “They also have SmartOffice Anywhere, and you can use that from any browser and access your records. That’s a nice thing because as we are out seeing clients or even on vacation, you can still manage your practice when you can access your records.” Baygroup currently pays $315 per month for the software but that amount should drop as Barnickel changes some of the features her company subscribes to.

Software trends

Pat Dempsey, president of Pismo Beach, California-based Client Marketing Systems Inc., which produces the Advisors Assistant software, points to several ongoing and emerging trends in advisors’ use of CRM. Tighter integration between the agent’s CRM and other software has been an ongoing request. It’s a question of productivity: Entering the same data in multiple applications is inefficient and increases the risk of typing errors. Dempsey notes that for several years his software has shared data with applications like ReadyDoc, a cloud-based document management program, and Laser App for financial forms.

Agents want access to their data from any location, and that desire helped fuel the shift to cloud-based services. But among financial advisors, the pendulum is swinging back to the hybrid cloud, Dempsey maintains. “At first, everybody wanted total cloud-based and now there’s a trend called the hybrid cloud,” he explains. “A hybrid cloud is where you have a program running on your device but the information is kept in the cloud. One of the reasons [the] hybrid cloud is starting to come back into focus is there’s a lot of things that a program running on the device can do that a browser can’t do.”

Don’t overlook support

Baygroup’s SmartOffice subscription includes support, a feature that Barnickel believes is critical when considering CRM software. She can contact Ebix support by email or via join.me screen-sharing sessions. Baygroup also paid for additional training on the program’s commission module and Ebix recorded the training session. She strongly recommends that advisors take advantage of a software provider’s offer to record training if that option is available. The recording can serve as a refresher on little-used features and can help train new users who did not attend the training sessions. “You may have an assistant today and five years down the road it might be somebody different,” she says.