Alpha Direct Agency doesn’t just embrace InsurTech. Technology is one of their core values:
Driven to Win with Technology
Today’s customer expects things to be done at Ferrari speed. Technology evens the playing field. Our customers don’t expect less from us. We will continue to innovate with Technology for years to come.
The 17-year-old agency even offers (among other specialty lines) technology services insurance and drone liability. Licensed in 17 states, Alpha Direct Agency has offices in New York City, Raleigh and Miami, plus international presence in the Dominican Republic and soon in Ecuador. Clearly, technology is critical to the agency’s revenue, as well as connecting its producers to each other and to the flagship office in upper Manhattan.
Asked about his agency’s use of InsurTech solutions, Principal Emmanuel Osuyah chuckles. “We are the earliest of adopters! People look to me before they buy new software. They know if I’ve used it and recommend it, it’s going to work.”
It’s not surprising, then, that Alpha Direct Agency started offering digital payment processing way back in 2006. Notwithstanding his agency’s international footprint, Emmanuel describes his agency as locally focused. “Customers would literally take the elevator up with baby carriage in tow to find our suite.” Most paid in cash or by money order. But carrying large amounts of cash around is a hassle. And, says Emmanuel, “the cashless world has forced change on all of us.” About the decision to offer online payment, he notes: “There was a time when if you could process ACH (check) payments, you were king. We had to go there.” As for credit cards, Alpha Direct Agency is “all plastic all day long.”
He tried out a series of payment processors over the years before becoming an early adopter of ePayPolicy (which he fondly refers to as “ePay3”). As one of ePayPolicy’s first clients, Emmanuel is clear about why he made the move: batching and fees.
None of his previous vendors had the capability to separate transaction fees as ePayPolicy does. He had to reconcile their fees monthly, decidedly “batch unfriendly.”
Prior to Insurance, Emmanuel worked as a banker, where he had to triple count cash for verification (those were the days before the desktop teller machines). When he founded his agency, he was no stranger to triple counting cash late into the night; and that’s when he knew there had to be a better way. With other merchant services vendors, he would take a month-and-a-half to reconcile credit card payments. Some vendors have two separate portals for credit cards and ACH transactions; which necessitates two different logins. In contrast, with ePayPolicy, mid-month and at the end of the month, his bookkeeper would run the reports, and “the transactions are right there. Both credit cards and ACH in the same transaction summary. With another click you hop into the batches. It’s so smooth, with easily searchable fields, which gives us more time in the month to focus on other things.”
Agent reaction to ePayPolicy
His agents like the payment portal also. He says, “I lean on my 15 employees for feedback. My people were complaining about the old platform.” The Agents particularly like that refunds to customers are easy with ePayPolicy. Confirmation of the refund can be sent to the customer from the platform within minutes of processing, saving them from having to take follow-up calls about the refund’s status.
The ePayPolicy experience
The transition from the previous payment processor vendor was smooth. ePayPolicy integrated easily with Alpha Direct Agency’s website. Emmanuel shares that,“right off the bat, I was impressed with the seamlessness of it all. My logo was in the portal, access to reports was painless and payments were hitting my bank account in the expected time frames.”
Emmanuel also gives thumbs up for:
Ease of payment (a big plus in redirecting customers away from cash payments)
Speed of payment (frees up agents to spend more time on sales)
Web 2.0 friendly (it offers a clean look without a lot of “gibberish” on the screen)
Alpha Direct Agency hasn’t had to lean on ePayPolicy’s Customer Service often, but they’ve been very responsive when called or emailed. He cites this example: “Our customers know immediately when a transaction fee shows up in their account. Disputes are rare. But one customer contested a fee, even though he knew he was in the wrong. ePayPolicy shut it right down once we provided supporting documents.”
The “fees” theme continued throughout the interview. Emmanuel finds ePayPolicy’s flat fees for ACH transactions ($3 per) a major benefit. He recently had another vendor pitch him, but they charge a percentage of the ACH transaction. Needless to say, that company will not be getting the Emmanuel Osuyah stamp of approval.
Next steps for Alpha Direct
Alpha Direct does not currently use the invoicing function, but Emmanuel looks forward to implementing it. In addition, he’s excited to know that ePayPolicy’s platform has plans to integrate with his agency management system (Hawksoft).
Advice to other agencies
To any agencies out there researching digital payment processors or dissatisfied with their current vendor, Emmanuel Osuyah does not mince words:
“Sign up with ePayPolicy. Go straight to where the future’s at.”