The potential savings for agents and carriers using real-time interfaces amounts to thousands of hours-and dollars-each day.A billing inquiry initiated through an agency management system takes two minutes, whereas the same inquiry takes eight minutes by phone, and nine minutes by carrier Web site. Those are the results of an agency workflow study conducted last year by Applied Systems Client Network (ASCnet), the user group for Applied Systems Inc., University Park, Ill.

If every one of the 40,000 independent agencies across the country initiates only three billing inquiries a day, the entire distribution channel could save at least 12,000 hours per day-hours that could be spent-with fewer people-selling policies or servicing more customers.

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