Hosket Ulen uses Salesforce to boost their customer experience.

See how Hosket Ulen used technology to become a better partner for their clients and carriers.

Hosket Ulen is an independent insurance agency in Ohio that has been providing insurance solutions to businesses, households, and individuals throughout the United States since 2009. The agency focuses on property and casualty, life insurance, bonds, and employee benefits and has the capabilities of a national broker while being locally owned and operated. As a partner in the Keystone Insurers Group, Hosket Ulen has won the “Partner of the Year Award” four times since 2014.

Hosket Ulen strives to provide a world-class experience for its clients by getting to know them and harnessing strong partnerships with the carriers they represent. The agency looked to take the next step and grow organically by focusing on the entire customer experience. The agency recognized early in its transformation journey that legacy platforms are often designed to be policy-centric, and can be ill-equipped as a platform to orchestrate the target customer experience they were looking to provide.

Brad Hosket, Managing Partner, knew that technology had to be the cornerstone of its approach to transform the company’s people and processes and become a better partner for its clients. The team turned to Salesforce to help the company align all aspects of the operation and customer journey on a single platform.

Here are five lessons from Hosket Ulen’s Salesforce experience that you can use to harness technology and become a better partner for your carriers and clients.


Lesson 1: Your agency mission is your compass. Always.


“The mission of Hosket Ulen is to understand our clients and protect what they value most. In pursuit of living out our mission, we have to provide our team with technology that reinforces the fundamentals of knowing our clients and helping provide insurance solutions. And that’s why the platform with Salesforce is so important for agents and carriers because it’s moving away from that policy-centric mentality and helping us focus on knowing our customers.”

Brad Hosket, Principal, Hosket Ulen

Every business is different in how they define value to their clients. Hosket Ulen’s mission is to know its clients and protect what they value most. This mission became a compass when transforming the agency culture and processes with Salesforce. It’s critical to Hosket Ulen’s brand that it has alignment and clarity about the client story to provide a consistent and outstanding client experience. However, this can be difficult to do with legacy agency management systems, which focus more on capturing the transactional steps of quoting and binding coverage than orchestrating a full customer experience. 

The legacy systems are often difficult to customize and innovate with, which makes it even more challenging for an agency like Hosket Ulen to remain steadfastly committed to living out its mission. Often, employees spend so much time learning how to navigate multiple systems that they don't have time to focus on the customer experience. Hosket Ulen solved this problem by leveraging Salesforce as a platform and aligning its entire team on a single source of truth. Now, all employees are looking at the same information, providing a complete view of the client’s journey — from the moment they say “hello” through the entire lifecycle.

Lesson 2: Establish closer partnerships with carriers through technology.


“It used to be that insurance companies classified the agent as their customer, and over time that has transitioned to recognizing the agent as their ‘partner’ as they both serve the insured.”

 Kevin Rall, Chief Digital Officer, Hosket Ulen

Hosket Ulen recognized the importance of leveraging technology to partner with carriers and more effectively deliver an outstanding customer experience. “Insurance carriers that rely on independent agents like Hosket Ulen have to be confident that we can transform our business with technology to meet customer needs. If not, they likely will explore alternative distribution methods.  Our value as a trusted advisor in this industry should never be overlooked due to a lack of technical capabilities.”  

As part of the implementation with Salesforce, Hosket Ulen engaged one of its leading carriers, The Cincinnati Insurance Company, to brainstorm together on the customer experience. The outcome of their innovative efforts resulted in the creation of an API that allows Hosket Ulen to access its policy, billing, and claims information from Cincinnati without agency employees having to leave the Salesforce platform.  

“Connecting our platform to a carrier like Cincinnati Insurance, for the good of our clients, is a significant step in demonstrating digital transformation capabilities. We are now better positioned to innovate and reimagine the overall insurance buying and service experience, and that is a great position to be in with our partner carriers.”

Lesson 3: Meet the customer where they are.


"The needs of our clients vary. We must be well-positioned to meet them where they are at. Sometimes they want to meet with us in person, and other times they simply want an efficient digital experience that is rooted in the personal relationships that they have come to know and trust with our team.”

 Kevin Rall, Chief Digital Officer, Hosket Ulen

In another case, Hosket Ulen was able to use Salesforce Experience Cloud to win new clients. The agency was approached by a prospect who was using an online, direct-to-consumer company for insurance. The client was satisfied with the online experience, but they were disappointed with not having a relationship or trusted advisor capabilities. Within a few weeks, Hosket Ulen was able to spin up a Salesforce Experience Cloud instance for the client and ended up winning its business by providing both the relationship and digital capabilities. In this instance, having the ability to compete on a technology level was paramount to winning business with a technology-first client. 

Hosket Ulen is using Salesforce Financial Services Cloud as an investment to stay two steps ahead of the industry. In doing so, the agency can take advantage of its capabilities and invest them into partnerships — and with its clients.

Lesson 4: The customer journey begins with the relationship


“The traditional systems and workflows used in many agencies today are service focused and limit the understanding of the activities and behaviors that lead to increased sales and retention.”

Courtney Piehl, Senior Business Analyst, Hosket Ulen

Hosket Ulen realized that to create a world-class experience as an agency, it needed to excel in all aspects of business, not just policy servicing as traditional systems have provided. “The system journey for most agencies begins with a quote. For Hosket Ulen, it begins when we start to interact with the prospect and understand what they value most.” Many agencies use a CRM, but once an opportunity is “Closed Won,” they swivel-chair into an agency management system to service the account. There is a significant amount of client-specific information gathered before binding coverage. This gap between CRM and agency management systems limits an agency’s ability to create a full picture of the journey with this client. 

When Hosket Ulen decided to focus on understanding the prospect and gathering information early in the sales cycle, it made them more efficient as a team — and with their carrier underwriters. The insurance company expects that the agency knows the customer well. Knowing a client from the moment they start their journey is beneficial for agents, carriers, and clients, and allows an evolution in how all three interact with each other to provide the best possible insurance experience.

Lesson 5: Leave a legacy for others.


“It’s not the technology alone that differentiates you – it’s how you use the technology to build your culture, align your team, and deliver value to your clients that will define your legacy as a company.”

- Kevin Rall, Chief Digital Officer, Hosket Ulen

Although Hosket Ulen has less than 50 employees, it is undertaking several transformational initiatives to contribute to the greater good of the insurance industry and enhance the role the independent agent plays as a trusted advisor. The desire to do this comes largely from Brad Hosket. After working in real estate and having difficulty buying insurance solutions that fit his business, Hosket realized that there had to be a better way. So, he invested in people, processes, and technology to achieve his vision.   

After establishing and operationalizing the capabilities and fundamentals for Hosket Ulen, the agency decided to share its system with other agents and brokers as a way to help move the industry forward. The agency formed borrowedtyme, a consortium for independent agents and brokers, to share in the success that Hosket Ulen has experienced with Salesforce. Underlying the technology fundamentals of borrowedtyme is Salesforce Financial Services Cloud. Borrowedtyme provides member agencies with access to the core technology capabilities necessary to run their entire operations on the Salesforce platform. The community of borrowedtyme believes that all agencies should have access to the core capabilities — or building blocks — to be able to provide an exceptional client experience in the insurance industry.


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