Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Technology

Today's connected insurance consumers expect convenience


Interacting with customers via their preferred channels on demand creates a connected insured experience. (Photo: iStock)
Interacting with customers via their preferred channels on demand creates a connected insured experience. (Photo: iStock)

Technology has transformed the way businesses serve their customers, and insurance is no exception.

Related: 3 insurance technology trends for building customer relationships in 2017

Insurance consumers have many insurer choices and extremely high expectations for service.

Today's consumers seek companies that provide the most convenience, and often reward or punish companies based on a single experience, according to a 2017 Forrester report.

How can your agency or brokerage provide customers with the convenience they expect? Through an omnichannel delivery model.

Consider this: Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. Comparatively, companies with weak omnichannel strategies retain an average of only 33% of their customers, according to Aberdeen Group Inc.

Interacting with customers via their preferred channels on demand creates a connected insured experience.

Related: Digital transformation can help insurers keep customers loyal

Convenience is key

Omnichannel consumers will only give their business to companies that meet their specific demands. Providing customers with real-time access to information through multiple digital channels enhances your agency’s competitive value and builds client retention.

Your agency will also be positioned as a trusted advisor by delivering customer service through traditional methods, including phone and in-person interactions.

Agencies that adopt an omnichannel customer service model create a connected insured experience for optimal service, when and how customers want it.

Here are three steps your agency can take to fully engage with the connected insured:

Step One: Invest in an online customer service portal to ensure your clients have 24/7 access to their insurance information.

Consumers want convenient service. An online customer self-service portal provides your customers access to their insurance information at any time, from anywhere. Not only do customers want online self-service, they are tempted to switch to companies that offer online channels. According to Accenture’s 2015 Global Consumer Pulse Research, customer churn because of declining loyalty and poor customer experiences represents as much as $470 billion in Life and Property & Casualty premiums globally. Additionally, 47% of the survey’s respondents said they want more online interactions with their insurers. Enabling your customers to access their information and interact with your agency 24/7 improves the customer experience and increases brand loyalty.

Related: 5 high-tech challenges (and solutions) for today's independent agents

Step Two: Consider an agency-branded mobile app that provides easy access to your business from mobile devices.

Consumers increasingly expect to be served through all digital channels, including mobile access to information. Mobility has revolutionized the financial services industry by making mobile apps must-have additions to traditional methods of working. In fact, according to a recent study by Fiserv, 65% of insurance consumers say paying bills and premiums through their smartphones improves their customer satisfaction. Agencies need to ensure that all transactions can be done in real time, from anywhere in the world, from any device. Furthermore, having an agency-branded mobile app is critical to elevate your role as a trusted advisor. Consumers value a seamless, branded online experience because it promotes professionalism and security from your agency’s brand.

Step Three: Implement eSignature capabilities to streamline the sales process.

According to the 2016 Applied Digital Agency Annual Report, in which more than 1,000 independent agencies across the U.S. were surveyed, only 38% of agencies offer eSignature functionality through their management systems. eSignature functionality enhances the customer experience by enabling customers to do business anytime, anywhere. Customers can easily finalize a policy electronically, omitting manual, time-consuming processes and eliminating cumbersome, physical paperwork. Today, more than 77% of Americans own a smartphone of some kind and many are transacting business online, making it essential to modernize the last step in business operations — the signature.

Technology is connecting our world and revolutionizing the way your business operates and interacts with your customers. It is critical for agencies today to adopt and leverage modern technologies to connect with consumers in whichever channel preferred. Providing an omnichannel customer service model provides a consistent and personalized service across all channels and touch points through the customer lifecycle. When your agency delivers convenient service, you gain a competitive advantage and build customer loyalty and retention.

Kris Hackney is executive vice president of customer experience at Applied Systems, Inc. She can be reached by sending email to KHackney@AppliedSystems.comA previous version of this essay first published in the Applied Systems blog. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.

See also:

Technology is super — when it works

How to bridge the insurance industry technology gap

Here's how auto technology will change claims


Here's how hybrid service models give insurers an upper hand

A hybrid of Software as a Service (SasS) and Platform as a Service (PasS) would balance the advantages of each...

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