No. 1: Morning Kickoff. You may have Alexa at home, but are you deploying her power at work? Consider programming Alexa to report on sales volume and upcoming appointments and events at the morning kickoff each day. (Shutterstock)
No. 2: Go mobile. You don’t need a traditional phone at every desk anymore. Team members can work from their smartphones while logged into a central communications app. When they dial out, it shows the company name. When calls come in, the caller selects the reason for the call, and the call is routed to the most appropriate and available team member. (Shutterstock)
No. 3: Embrace online sales. Nobody likes to leave a voicemail. Through InsurTech, we have eliminated the need for it. Phones can be staffed during high-volume business hours. After hours, callers can be directed to a website for service. Last year, my company sold 367 policies through our website after 10 p.m.! (Photo provided to ALM Media by Farmers Mutual)
No. 4: Enable quotes and renewals. Proprietary, AI-driven systems can shop insurance from up to 42 carriers and present the client with customized opportunities. Staff still manages the quote, bind and issue process online from start to finish. In the months leading up to renewal, the agency system can email or text customers asking if they’d like their coverage shopped. If so, repeat the process. This is how my company “sticks” to our customers. We shop for them before they can shop us, and they know we’re not complacent. (Shutterstock)
No. 5: Use text messaging. Because our team members work from smartphones, they can send and receive work-related texts using a centralized communication app. It turns out that most customers love getting insurance information via text message. (Shutterstock)
No. 6: Implement electronic signing. Last year, my business sold 17,000 insurance policies. Of those policies, 99.2% were bound with an electronic signature, and in 80% of those, the signature was executed via text. (Shutterstock)
No. 7: Electronic policy delivery. Last year, we only had to mail three of the 17,000 policies sold. The others were sent via the customer’s preferred method — email or text. (Shutterstock)
No. 8: Eliminate paper. With the help of IVANS Exchange, Team Up & Carrier Downloads, we have completely eradicated paper (except for the occasional sticky note). All of our carrier data is stored in the cloud and instantly accessible to anyone, anytime. (Shutterstock)
No. 9: Smarter scheduling. Agents can use an online scheduling app to allow clients to schedule phone appointments. This greatly reduces the volume of random calls coming into the office. (Shutterstock)
No. 10: Streamline the office. My company no longer needs a reception team because very few customers come to our brick and mortar office. People don’t randomly call in much because they use our online tool to schedule time with an agent. We don’t need a receptionist to receive and route incoming calls because our central communications app automatically routes calls, according to our rules, to our team members’ smartphones. We speak to Alexa when we need to schedule a conference room. (Shutterstock)
No. 11: Employ chatbots. Chatbots respond to customers’ needs for entry-level service tasks. In essence, the chatbot conducts a quick triage and triggers the next step of service, which usually involves a human. (Shutterstock)
No. 12: Use more digital tools. Every team member’s smartphone is equipped with a mobile dashboard, where information can be accessed in a few clicks. This includes big picture information such as sales, web visitors and conversions for the company, as well as the policy-level information required to serve customers. (Fotolia)
No. 13: Recruit internationally. Being paperless and mobile enables an agency to leverage talent from anywhere in the world. My agency is headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., but we have team members all over the country and around the world. Even our local team members work remotely at least one day a week, which is definitely an advantage for recruiting and retention. (Shutterstock)
No. 14: Housekeeping help. We’ve found a way to leverage technology for cleaning, too. We program our iRobots to vacuum and mop the floors every night while we’re out. Unfortunately, they don’t clean toilets… Yet! (WikiCommons)
Insurance technology is a hyped topic that dominates every industry journal and event. Experts say it’s the future of insurance.
If you’re a traditional retail agency, where does that leave you?
It’s all a matter of perspective. The term “InsurTech” simply describes the process of leveraging technology to conduct business in new, more efficient ways.
The good news is that InsurTech is an equal-opportunity pursuit, and brick and mortar insurance agencies are not excluded.
If you run a traditional retail agency, the future still belongs to you, but only if you believe in it and prepare for it.
The slideshow above illustrates 14 simple ways independent insurance agencies can beat InsurTech competitors at their own game.
Agencies that implement even half of these technologies may be more “tech” than the InsurTechs they’re competing against.
Other tough battles
Traditional agencies need to win over two audiences: Customers and team members. Customers are easy. They already have smartphones and like convenience. If you guide them through the process of going mobile with insurance, they’re generally willing to follow you. Many like to support their local agent. If you offer them a tech-friendly way to stay with you, they’ll choose you over a national InsurTech option.
In contrast, some team members won’t be so easy. They may prefer to do things the same old way and stay within their comfort zones. This is where agency owners and managers really have to get strategic and persistent about change. The agency will need to transition to a tech culture with buy-in and participation from everyone.
One last thought
To compete in with InsurTechs, insurance agencies don’t necessarily have to offer something new. They can offer something old in a new way.
Jeff Arnold (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president of Rightsure Insurance Group and Inshurents.com, which are headquartered in Tucson, Ariz. Learn more at JeffArnold.com, Rightsure.com or Inshurents.com.