Large-scale disruption is already changing the insurance field today. This makes the competition fiercer than ever. As you will not only compete against agencies all over the town, but with digital start-ups and direct-distribution players that are quickly innovating the customer experience, service efficiency, and technology.
While it may be hard to accept, the reality is — an agency can no longer survive without adapting new technologies and without any comprehensive plan for the future
However, here is good news for you: adapting to these changes is possible.
In fact, you can be an agent of the future with the existing tools and technologies that are already accessible and waiting for you.
Together with these five principles which you should incorporate in your business — you can easily create a plan that will help you become an agent of the future.
Jumpstart with these essentials, do them right, and you are already halfway there.
Are you ready to become an agent of the future?
Be a competitive insurance agent of the future with these five essentials!
- Automation (everywhere)
How many hours do you spend each day doing tasks that automation can do better and faster? By automating the manual processes, how much annoyance and time could you save for yourself and your customers?
The engine of the agency of the future is automation.
The myth that “automation will replace the agent” is just a misconception that you should not believe in.
Rather than replacing you as an insurance agent, automation will actually make you even more productive since it will perform boring and ordinary tasks for you. Consequently, this will give you the freedom to have a more personal and profitable relationship with your clients which shall set you apart as an independent agent.
Automation also creates a quick and error-free customer experience and eliminates manual data extraction and entry which shall improve every phase of the funnel and policy process.
Here are a few examples of the benefits of automation:
- The onboarding and renewal processes can be done more swiftly and more efficiently through the use of automation tools. This will cut down the waiting time for your customers and the time spent seeking responses will also be lesser for you.
- Elimination of error can be achieved through automation as it will extract information from carrier quotes and move data directly into broker administration systems, quote comparisons, and proposals. Moreover, automation can perform the completion and issuance of certificates, reconciliation of accounts, auto-population of forms, and removal of redundancy for your business.
- Automation updates the previous year’s information to the current year during the renewal period. As a result, the verification of data by your client is the only thing necessary. Consequently, you don’t need to keep track of every renewal or response because of auto-reminders.
- Elimination of printing, scanning, or mailing process is possible through automated smart forms with e-signatures which can be used even if there are multiple signatories at multiple locations. In addition to this, e-signatures are secure and legally binding.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
Even if you are not a data scientist, you can use the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics for the benefit of your agency and your customers. In fact, you are already using AI in every part of your modern life — as you utilize navigation apps for your daily commute and wear fitness tools as part of your outfit.
In the field of insurance, AI would be your key in order to receive and provide fast responses crucial to make sound decisions. Since AI can aid you in your decision-making and revenue generation through the extraction of useful insights from your data.
AI already touches most aspects of life – from navigation apps we use to commute to the fitness tools we wear every day. In insurance, AI is your ticket to easily getting and giving the answers you and your customers need to make good choices. In addition to this, providing information and an on-demand customer experience can be easily achieved by utilizing the robotic process automation through chatbots. Lastly, instead of using intuition or experiences, AI guarantees that decision-making will always be based on data.
The agent of the future can utilize AI through the following methods:
- Identification of opportunities, recommendations, cross-selling, and upselling the right products, coverage, limits, and deductibles at a suitable time by gaining knowledge of the intention of your customers.
- Recognition and resolution of issues, development of new products and services, and entrance into new markets grounded on information about customer trends.
- Swift identification of threats by monitoring patterns.
- Employment of chatbots on websites and social media platforms which promptly answers common inquiries from clients independent of any agent on-duty allowing for an “on-call” customer service. The Bot is capable of performing simple to sophisticated tasks based on your specific need. From scheduling appointments automatically, answering common questions from clients, to providing customers support. On top of this, subsequent customer experience with the bot is improved by tracking each interaction with clients.
It must be emphasized that chatbots as innovative tools for machine learning exist not to perform your own tasks but enable you to become a better insurance agent. These tools will give you more time and help you acquire relevant information in order to improve your performance in tasks requiring personal interactions like explaining complicated insurance options, advising in their decision-making, giving encouragement and confidence, and accompanying them as a reliable partner in times of struggles.
3. A customer-oriented pivot
It is undeniable that in any business model nowadays, customer-centric is necessary. Customer-centricity is not only by displaying a favorable impression but requires a perspective in which the customer experience is seen as the essential force of business growth and profit. As such, it demands digitization, communication, and every conceivable combination of the two. Extraordinary accessibility, convenience, and responsiveness are also expected by your leads and policyholders as this has become typical in their daily life.
Switching to a customer-oriented approach requires:
- 24/7 operations through digital access which includes: automated portals, chatbots on social media, self-service tools, and more.
- Seamless onboarding takes into consideration the client’s time and a reward system for customers who avail of the services of your agency.
- Appropriate and timely communication avoids flooding clients with your own priorities and agenda. As an agent, you can incorporate AI and machine learning in your business in order to meet customer requirements, keep track of renewals and send practical reminders to your clients.
- Personal human services supplemented by AI-guided responsive workflows limiting irrelevant renewal emails and exchanges which shall distinguish you from other digital-only direct insurers.
- The utilization of e-signatures shall eliminate the stressful process of printing, signing, scanning, and sending forms.
- Implementation of text/SMS notification and mobile-friendly website to assist customers who primarily use their phones.
- Digitalization of the claims process ensuring a smooth and stress-free customer experience by avoiding any delay and unnecessary paperwork.
4. Master digital marketing
As discussed above, Automation, AI, and customer-centric are the basic elements of the marketing plan of an agency-of-the-future. By incorporating these principles into your business you can expand your marketing with less effort. With the suitable technology and your skill in scaling, automating, personalizing, and quantifying marketing efforts — you can easily improve the growth of your business!
Here is a glimpse of a normal day in the agency marketing of the future:
- Emailing campaigns will be automated and template-based. At the same time, the timing of the release of emails to prospects or policyholders will be strategic and in a manner that will guide the client towards the desired result.
- Setting the frequency of automated campaigns to maintain referrals without tiring your customers.
- Creating and distributing helpful and relevant newsletters through automated templates and tools that reuse content reducing the time and effort exerted.
In developing a business, a 24/7 marketing activity is required. By using automated marketing tools, it can perform marketing campaigns non-stop giving you the time to focus on every detail of customer engagement and sales.
5. Leverage open API frameworks
The fact that ‘the future is a moving target’ is the best lesson that you need to know in order to become an agent of the future. You must always remember that the new systems and technologies that you use at present may not be relevant in the future. Therefore, you must be versatile to constantly adjust to the new wave of the future. By adopting a flexible attitude early on, you will avoid being trapped.
A future-proof approach is possible through an Open API architecture which allows you to incorporate new capabilities and services as needed. By using this, you can easily add new tools like marketing, SMS messaging, eSignatures, chatbots, etc. free from a long integration process. Your agency can use thousands of “apps” or microservices where you can customize fully interconnected, customer-focused business platforms without any major technical issues by simply selecting the right API framework.
Following the usual state of things is not a good course of action.
Nowadays, you have the freedom of choice of taking the path of automation, selecting your partners, and adopting new technologies at your own pace.
Are you ready to become an agency of the future?