It’s officially October. While most people are thinking about the leaves changing colors, play-off Baseball, and pumpkin everything, those of us in the Senior Insurance Market are bracing ourselves for the craziness that is AEP. A lot of my Tech Tuesday articles have been about looking at something new to improve or help your business. This post will be a little different. Let’s talk about all the “old stuff” instead. Think back to the days where you’d pop the hood on the car before a long family road trip and check the belts and the oil before hitting the road. You’d make sure everything was in good working order so you weren’t stranded on the side of the road. Well, it’s a great time to pop the hood on all your tech stuff to make sure you’re not stuck on the side of the road this AEP. Taking the few extra minutes to check on things now so you can avoid some issues can keep all of your tech stuff running smoothly and at least eliminate that stress from the mix as things get crazy. Here’s a list of a few things I wander through the office checking each fall.
Can I print that from here?
If you’ll be working from different areas, like a conference room, or shared meeting space instead of your desk, make sure you can print from there. If you need to unplug all the cords from your laptop, can you still print? Incredibly frustrating to have something all typed up or you just found the document you need online, only to click that print button and have nothing happen. Do a quick test now and know when and where you can print. This is a good idea if you use multiple devices too. iPads and tablets can be finicky when it comes to printing. While you may be able to access the same webpage or document on a different device, how or if it will print aren’t always the same. While we’re talking about printers, if you don’t have a spare ink cartridge, buy one now. It doesn’t matter if you can print or not if the printer is just spitting out blank paper. It’s not a bad idea to grab an extra ream of paper too while you’re at it.
Are you powered up?
AEP can sometimes mean longer working hours than normal. While you might be able to keep yourself going with an extra cup of coffee or two (or three or four if you’re like me), your electronic devices won’t benefit if you dip them into your cup. There’s nothing worse than sitting on hold for 30 minutes and then having your phone battery die two minutes into your conversation with an actual person. Grab some extra charging cables for your devices and stash them in strategic locations like your briefcase, your desk drawer, or in your car. That way when the battery starts to get too low you are not stuck without a life line. Keep in mind too that you won’t always need a wall outlet to charge things up. With smart phones especially, a device with a USB port (like your laptop, your car, or even a TV) is sometimes all you need to keep your device from going dead.
You can also be proactive and start your morning off in Low Battery Mode. Many laptops and devices have settings that will automatically reduce the amount of energy your device consumes as you use it. If not, look for settings you can turn off or turn down when you’re not using them, like screen brightness, Bluetooth connections, etc. Making the switch even when your batteries are fully charged will help you avoid having to play catch up with a dead batter later in the day. It’s also a good idea to have “low tech” alternatives in case your batteries go dead, like a wired mouse in case your wireless one goes dead.
Will you be connected?
For agents working out in the field, connectivity can be very unpredictable, so be sure you have a backup plan for that as well. You may find yourself in a client’s home with no Wi-Fi or limited cell phone service. Make sure you can still access the information you’ll need even without an internet connection. Often times you can download forms ahead of time on your devices which will allow you to access them even when a connection isn’t possible. You can use “airplane” mode to test what you can and cannot do when you lose your connection. Having a cheat sheet or a couple hard copies of supplies isn’t a bad idea either. Or, you can always pick up the phone and give our office a call (just make sure you have our number with you!).
If you’ll be working solely from the office, will your current connection be fast enough? Especially if you’re in a shared office, increase in workload will also mean increased demand on your internet service. Contact your internet service provider to see about a boost to your speed. Faster internet might well be worth the investment over the next three months to improve your efficiency. It’s also not a bad idea to run a test of your internet speed to make sure you’re getting the speeds you’re paying for or that you’re promised.
Make a note of it!
Take a few minutes and visit each of the important website you’ll be accessing through the AEP. Be sure to save them to your favorites or bookmark these pages to make accessing them quicker and smoother for when you’re meeting with your clients. It’s also important to make a note of them elsewhere. This way if you’re using a device that they are not book marked on, or need to share a link, you can quickly access the information. I also suggest notating your logins for important sites as well. Though be sure if you’re notating links, usernames, and passwords all on the same document you’re storing or sharing that document securely.
There might be apps, or devices that have been collecting dust over the summer. Take a moment to blow the dust off of anything you may use in the coming weeks. It’s a good idea to power up any unused devices, then do a complete shut down of them and then power them back up. This will force that device to check for any updates and reset all of its connections. If you’re running windows, chances are there are some updates that will pop up after you do this shut down. Go through and update your systems now while you’re not in desperate need of them. It’s awful to be in the middle of something, when your computer automatically restarts to install and update. Be proactive and force the machine to update when it’s convenient for you. The same goes for apps on your mobile devices or any other programs you frequently use. The exception to this update advice would be for any “major” updates on programs or devices that are functioning properly. iPhones and iPads for example just came out with a major update to their operating system. It may be in your best interest to avoid the update so you’re not re-learning where they’ve moved things or how to do things while you’re in the midst of the AEP chaos.
I hope this article gives you some idea of things you can take care of now, to avoid headaches, minor inconveniences, or even major tech disasters when you least want them. So take a few minutes now to pop the hood on your tech and make sure everything is in good working order so you’re not technologically stranded this AEP.
“Pop the Hood” AEP Tech Checklist
- Make sure you can print from different sections of the office from your laptop or tablet
- Purchase extra ink for printer
- Purchase extra ream of printer paper
- Get extra charging cables for your phone or tablet – have spares in your car, work bag, and office
- Download forms ahead of time on your laptop or tablet. Hint: Test access to these forms by putting your phone in airplane mode.
- Consider boosting your current internet connection for the rest of the year and run a test of your internet speed
- Bookmark the important websites for easy access on your laptop or tablet.
- Make a note of your bookmarked websites, username and passwords all on the same document on a secure file.
- Power up any devices that haven’t been used in a while and complete any needed updates: Windows updates or app updates for tablets or mobile devices.