Does your independent insurance agency need a system upgrade?
While it may seem that the insurance industry has hopped on the high-tech bandwagon with so much attention — and money — focused on insurtech startups, many independent agents still struggle to integrate technology into their daily business. The disconnect between the plethora of available tech tools and widespread adoption is particularly acute among younger, digital-native agents who want cutting-edge online engines to capture new business and speed up client service.
When Insurance Journal recently polled 600 industry pros age 40 and younger, the results underscored this disparity: 47.4% gave the P&C industry a grade of “fair” or “poor” in regards to the use of technology; and only 10.2% rated the sector’s tech utilization as “excellent.”
Incorporating technology into today’s independent agencies presents challenges, to be sure, but those hurdles can be overcome when agents sensibly employ the right tech systems and practices in their agencies. Here are five ways to do so.
1. Build a Full-Service Website
Of course, your agency has a website, but is that site truly meeting the needs of your clients rather than merely advertising your agency? Design your website from the client’s point of view so you can service your prospects and clients for whatever they seek — whether it’s requesting a policy change, printing a copy of their contract, adding new names to the policy, or simply downloading an ID card.
In some cases, you may prefer to keep certain functions offline. If so, direct web visitors and clients to an agent to complete those tasks. Each agency customizes its portal for its own specifications. Also, consider the carrier networks and legacy technology with which your website interacts — choose a system that assimilates with those technologies. But even more importantly, select technology that produces an optimum customer experience while also supporting agency functions and standards.
2. Establish Multi-Channels of Communication
In today’s digital age, consumers expect immediate service. They don’t need to travel to a brick-and-mortar store to shop or an office to get a copy of their insurance policy; they possess at their fingertips the means to browse and purchase from multiple digital devices.
With that in mind, expand your practice to multi-channels so you can reach and help prospects and clients via their preferred channel. Those channels can be both high tech — chatbot, email, text message, or social media — or old-school phone calls (and yes, even a letter). The point is to provide clients and prospects the ability to access documents or policy information whenever and however they want. And of course, always be available for in-person consultations as well.
3. Upgrade the Mobile Customer Experience
Nearly everyone owns a mobile phone or tablet these days. Clients of all ages likely have at least one mobile device. So when building your portal, be sure to optimize it for mobile platforms so clients can easily view and download policy information, make payments, apply and chat online, or peruse educational videos. A branded mobile app is also a great way to keep in contact with your clients 24/7.
4. Use Technology for Data Analysis
One of the most valuable sales and marketing tools an independent agent can maintain is customer relationship management (CRM) software. It logs massive data about each of your prospects and clients — age, family, health history, salary, and more. Analyze your CRM data to understand your target clientele and market to that audience in the right manner (social media, email, etc.). The amount of information may seem overwhelming, so pinpoint the data most aligned with your agency’s specialty.
5. Review Tech Need Regularly
Technology changes so rapidly that you can’t afford to wait until a vendor raises its fees or the system becomes outdated to make much-needed upgrades. Regularly review your technology to see if it still satisfies your requirements and the needs of your clients. If it doesn’t, it’s time to switch to an updated network. Frequent tech appraisals also ensure you’re spending money on the best tools for your agency’s purpose.