It might be time to ditch these outdated technologies.Technology evolves at such a rapid pace that it’s understandably difficult for independent agents to keep up. Nevertheless, agents must continually update their tech tools to better meet shifting client preferences and heighten efficiency in their agencies.
One reason insurtech startups have captured consumers — and investors — is because their innovative digital platforms streamline everything from purchasing policies to handling claims. Independent insurance agents should follow their strategy by modernizing their technological systems, but before they can do that, they need to ditch these outdated techs as soon as possible.
Rather than regularly update their IT infrastructure, many agencies stick with old computer systems, programming languages, or application software. Unfortunately, these obsolete platforms are costly to maintain, and most aren’t designed to meet the ever-changing needs of an insurance agency. They also lack the security features needed to ward off breaches and detect malware. Clients do notice when an agency employs outmoded technology: 90% of the more than 1,000 consumers polled by Microsoft in 2013 said they’d likely take their business elsewhere if a company operated an antiquated IT platform. Though it may require some substantial upfront expenses, independent agents must invest in modern IT now — preferably a cloud-based solution that enables agents to take advantage of the latest software without having to host and administer IT in-house.
While it’s true that many clients prefer to talk to an agent over the phone, consumers increasingly favor more digital, self-driven interactions with companies. Indeed, research firm Forrester found that the use of web or mobile self-service platforms among consumers grew from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014. Instead of operating expensive call centers, independent agents can use chatbots to answer basic client queries in a manner they prefer. Chatbots also create more time for agents to handle their client’s more complicated needs.
Many agencies still rely on spreadsheets to track and log client interactions, but manually inputting every detail from a client call or online communication is a time-consuming process that often leads to errors. A better alternative is a modern customer relationship management (CRM) software solution. These programs can house a client’s contact and policy information for easy retrieval and modifications, support marketing efforts by automatically sending out emails, and immediately analyze data so that agents can recommend products based on a client’s individual risk profile.
Payments by Check
Like manual spreadsheets, processing client payments by check every month requires many man hours that could be spent on other tasks. Setting up an automated electronic system that accepts recurring payments from clients is a much more efficient solution for clients and the agency.
As insurance technologies continue to mature, independent insurance agents must quickly adapt to them. As challenging as that may be, those agents who incorporate leading-edge tech tools into their practice will attract more clients and have more efficient operations. Of course, they’ll need to dump their outdated technology before it gathers even more dust.