QQ Evolution offers agents a modular agency management system that's easy on the budget
By Nancy Doucette
Mark Malis, CEO of QQ Solutions, Inc., believes that the insurance industry is complex enough on its own. Agency management systems shouldn't compound that issue, he asserts. So when the vendor rolled out its QQ Evolution™ agency management system in late 2009, he remained firm in his commitment to provide a system that meets an agency's automation needs but at the same time isn't complex.
Michael Stebel, QQ Solution's COO, notes: "In talking with agents, we hear that they're spending a lot for technology and not getting all the benefits they believe they should. There's pent-up demand for a solution that's both affordable and powerful."
QQ Solutions traces its roots back to 1988, and offers a number of other products besides its agency management system. Malis proudly reports that his organization has over 4,200 customers nationwide using at least one of QQ Solutions' products.
He explains that QQ Evolution builds on the strengths of QuickFile, QQ Solutions' earlier agency management system offering. (See "Local Talent" in the January 2004 issue of Rough Notes.) This enhanced version offers agents the same ease of use as its predecessor but provides more robust reporting—including a customizable report generator, CRM and marketing capabilities, and a dashboard—the hallmark feature of this new product, according to Malis. "The dashboard provides the agent or CSR with one screen that shows them what they have to work on that day—policies of interest, x-dates, reminders, and more," he says.
Payment inquiry and policy inquiry as well as download via IVANS can also be included. "We provide all the downloads that IVANS has worked out with the carriers," Malis says. "As IVANS makes the connections, we make the connections as well." However, he points out, not all carriers use IVANS so QQ Solutions has set up a direct connection with those carriers.
Included in that "ease of use" description is QQ Solutions' use of a Tier IV data center in which the company stores and maintains agents' data in its clustered SQL servers. "Agents never have to worry about their data or backing it up," Stebel points out. "All they have to worry about is selling insurance."
QQ Evolution is installed on each of the PCs in an agency, just like any other Windows application, but the data is stored offsite at the vendor's data center. "Agents get the speed of a locally installed application with the safety and security of the data being hosted," he notes.
Stebel says agents using QQ Evolution also enjoy peace of mind knowing that their data is being backed up continuously throughout the day, allowing for "point in time" restoration of lost records. Additionally, backups are verified to be sure they'll work should the need arise.
"We maintain over 6.5 million client records and 20 million images/scanned documents," Malis states. "The accessibility of the data is guaranteed by our service level agreement. Our customers get a guarantee that their data will be available and if for any reason it isn't, and we have any downtime, they can get service credits. We stand by our support and our IT operations."
Malis says QQ Evolution's "sweet spot" is the small to mid-size agency. He adds that the system works great for franchise operations or agencies with multiple locations.
Great for startups
Tony Veteto manages Tague Alliance, Inc., an SIAA Master Agency located in Carlsbad, California. It has 63 member agencies, all located in southern California. Veteto says the members range from small agencies generating between $150,000 and $300,000 in revenue to larger operations generating up to $2 million in revenue.
He says one of SIAA's goals is to "ensure the long-term viability of the independent agency system. SIAA creates a lot of independent agencies. For example, we have a number of former captive agents who decided to join Tague Alliance to become independent agents."
Among the services that Tague Alliance provides its members are direct insurance company appointments, enhanced compensation opportunities, and agency resources, as well as discounts with management system and rating vendors. QQ Solutions is a strategic vendor, Veteto points out. He says QQ Solutions makes it possible for him to offer members a couple of options. The easiest and most cost-effective option is to add a new member to the Tague Alliance group database that QQ Solutions set up. "The member agency gets its own segment of the database, and they are treated as an individual office in the database," he explains. "The system is very affordable, functional, it's all online, it's all backed up, and they're up and running quickly."
Should the member agency want to be set up on its own, that's the other option. Veteto explains that by being on its own, the member can have full administrative control over the system and still benefit from being part of SIAA and Tague Alliance.
Going like gangbusters
Stebel declares that 2010 was "our best year in our history…sales, profits, and the growth of our customer subscriber base."
To make sure that momentum continues, QQ Solutions launched its QQ Professional Services earlier this year. "We created a team of professionals who are focused squarely on customer onboarding," Stebel says. This team includes customer success managers (CSM)—a new position within the company. Stebel explains that the CSMs are "licensed agents who are passionate about technology. Their mission is to train our customers over the phone using Web technology." Every new customer is assigned a CSM to provide them with customized, personalized training. "This is over and above the other training resources that we have," he explains.
The QQ Professional Services team also includes three full-time engineers who do nothing but database conversions.
"The idea is to make customers delighted with their onboarding experience," Stebel says. "With this new system, agents may need help with their workflows and adopting best practices to make sure they're getting the most from QQ Evolution. That's where the Professional Services team comes in."
QQ Solutions extends its ease of use philosophy to getting signed up for QQ Evolution. Stebel notes that an agent who signs up today can be online with the system in less than 24 hours. He directs interested agents to the QQ Solutions Web site where they can click on "Sign up now," input their credit card information, select the product, and indicate the offices and locations. "Immediately the database is configured in our data center. The software application can be downloaded and installed on their PC without talking to anyone," he says.
"There's no contract; there's no setup fee," Malis adds. "There's very little risk."
Stebel observes that the QQ Evolution pricing model is basically "pay as you go." Pricing for the four editions of Evolution—Lite, Bronze, Silver, and Gold—is available at QQ Solutions' Web site. "Our pricing is totally transparent," he states.
The QQ Solutions executives note that the four editions allow users to choose the set of features that best meets their needs and budget. Malis concludes: "Since I started this company 23 years ago, our goal has been to create products that provide something of great value to agents."
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QQ Solutions, Inc.