Newfront Insurance is on a mission to revolutionize the independent agency space. As a full-service insurance brokerage and consulting firm, Newfront’s risk and reward advisors help businesses increase profitability while recruiting and retaining happy employees.
Embracing innovation has been key to Newfront’s success. Until recently, Newfront’s employees relied on email and collaboration tools with suite offerings to do their work. Although teammates could access and share information with these legacy tools, they often created information silos, or required face-to-face communication, long email chains and conference calls to provide crucial context.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck. As Newfront shifted to all-remote work in March 2020 and employees began to telecommute, the company turned to Slack, the only channel-based messaging platform that delivers deep user engagement by connecting employees across an entire organization in one place.
Slack offered a digital connection among Newfront’s teammates, especially during a time of isolation, and adoption quickly spread from their small-but-mighty team of 401(k) retirement plan specialists to the full organization. Within a few months, Newfront upgraded to Slack Enterprise Grid, a solution for large or complex organizations with special emphasis on security and governance functionality.
“At first, we were worried that introducing a new solution like Slack would stir up a battle over email,” says Brent Rineck, the former chief information officer at Newfront Insurance. “In reality, there was a snowball effect of Slack adoption. One team after another volunteered to try it out. Soon everyone was raising their hands saying, ‘I want to get on Slack.’ Slack usage went off the charts.”
“Channels and apps for automation are the two things that have differentiated Slack from suite-based offerings. It’s easy to use out of the box and it’s also easy to optimize with integrations.”
Smashing information silos and cluttered email inboxes with Slack
In early 2020, Rineck’s team conducted an IT audit to see how employees across Newfront Insurance were utilizing communications tools. Rineck discovered that workers were mainly collaborating one-to-one in individual email inboxes and private chats.
“We had people using email, people using direct messaging, people texting each other. Communication was all over the place and all of it was hidden,” says Rineck.
In order to compete in a remote-only world, Newfront needed a new tool that would facilitate one-to-many communication and establish a companywide foundation of institutional knowledge. With Slack, Newfront was empowered to create a comprehensive communication strategy while instituting Slack best practices and an etiquette guide, including channel-naming conventions.
Instead of exchanging information via private messages and emails, everyone began communicating in searchable, public channels, facilitating more cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. “When new employees join Newfront Insurance and have questions, they can find almost every answer on Slack,” says Rineck.
With channels, teams from different departments could swarm together to solve business problems without ever leaving the Slack workspace. Unlike email and other suite-based offerings, colleagues could keep discussions in channels and direct messages organized using threads in Slack.
Newfront’s Slack workspace is organized by topics. For example, if a teammate has a payroll question, they can post a message in
#ask-finance, while human resources-related questions are directed to
“When you send out a group email, you really have no idea if everyone is reading it,” Rineck says. “But when you post a message in a Slack channel, you can actually measure engagement with emoji reactions and analytics.”
Streamlining daily work with an open platform
Slack connects the most popular workplace apps in a single place, so workers don’t have to chase down tasks and messages across multiple platforms. With more than 2,400 apps in the Slack App Directory, it’s easy for teams to bring the services or tools they’re already using directly into Slack.
Newfront’s team leaders have reported that it’s easier than ever for workers to stay focused now that their attention isn’t fragmented across specialist software products. According to Rineck, almost every Newfront employee uses Office 365 integrations for Slack. Teams also depend on Salesforce, Lever, and DocuSign integrations in Slack.
“With Slack, I feel like we’re far more efficient, that people are truly engaged at work,” Rineck says.
Maximizing customer retention with Slack Connect
Using the Slack API, Newfront was able to build on and customize the Salesforce integration used in the company’s workspace. Each time Newfront signs on a new client, the Salesforce integration creates an internal Slack channel specifically for that account. This channel is the home base for all communication and important links related to that client.
“With Slack channels, teammates know exactly where to look if they have a question about a client,” says Rineck.
In addition to replacing internal email and communications with Slack, Newfront is beginning to embrace Slack Connect for external communications and to improve business collaboration.
By rolling out external channels with Slack Connect, Newfront can quickly communicate with customers and provide premium service.
“Bringing clients into channels through Slack Connect facilitates faster and more secure communication,” Rineck says.
“Contrary to emails or text messages, Slack provides a searchable log of all communications and knowledge, a single source of truth for everyone.”
Nurturing a strong organizational culture and community
According to Rineck, legacy companies with traditional tools need to adapt their IT suite to attract top-tier talent. Not only can companies move work forward faster, but also build meaningful connections and engagement among colleagues.
“Slack helps create community and drive culture,” Rineck says. “It’s especially helpful with onboarding new hires and bringing them up to speed quickly across all channels.”
Ultimately, Slack has helped boost team morale and a sense of belonging within Newfront Insurance, helping teams feel understood, engaged and productive. “Before Slack, new employees got a handful of “thumbs up” reactions. Now, everyone is greeted with hundreds of welcoming comments and endless emojis that really express the Newfront way,” says Rineck. “It lets you voice yourself any way you want. Whether it’s a custom profile picture, emoji or status, it’s those little things that help you feel seen and connected to your coworkers, even when you’re not in an office together.”