The Digital Age of Insurance: 5 Reasons to Become a Digital Agent

by | Mar 15, 2019

Digital transformation has taken over almost every industry – including insurance – to satisfy the on-demand service expectations of today’s customer. According to research by McKinsey & Company, agencies that digitally transform stand to gain satisfied customers, lower operating costs and achieve higher growth.

It is important to understand what it means to be a Digital Agency. At Applied, a Digital Agency is defined by three core characteristics:

  1. Digital automation within a business to streamline operations and drive efficiency
  2. Digital connectivity to policyholders to drive an enhanced customer experience
  3. Digital connectivity to insurers to drive efficiency and strengthen relationships

There are five key areas of business value agents stand to achieve by becoming a Digital Agent:

 

Growth

Applied’s Annual Digital Agent survey cites an average of 156% higher revenue per employee than non-digital agents. Digital Agents leverage a single management system to gain visibility across an entire book of business, delivering integrated capabilities to manage customer relationships, sales opportunities, market appetite search, financial accounting and policy and benefits administration in a single application. Open architecture also enables agencies to integrate seamlessly with third-party applications, proprietary systems and other data sources. When businesses focus on selling and serving customers rather than manual, administrative tasks, staff can deliver a better customer experience, driving increased retention and business growth.

Case in Point:

ChurchWest takes advantage of sales automation directly within their management system to track and forecast new business opportunities and renewals. At any given time, the agency has 10 different marketing campaigns running, which means producers no longer have to search for prospects every day. ChurchWest Insurance Services doubled their premium and increased their customer retention ratio to 97% in five years by becoming a Digital Agency.

Consider this Tech to Get Started: Sales Automation

Integrated within the agency management system, sales automation delivers sales opportunity, pipeline, forecast and activity management, and automates the pipeline/prospecting processes. Agents gain a single view of your prospects and customers, while eliminating the need to invest in separate systems to manage their sales pipeline digitally.

 

Efficiency

Digital technology also enables independent agencies to increase efficiency through internal automation and connectivity to policyholders and insurers. In fact, Applied’s 2018 Customer Satisfaction survey reported that digital agencies averaged an increase of 17.8% in productivity using Applied software.

Digital agents deliver greater efficiency because technology automates the majority of the manual, time-consuming tasks required to run the business, such as establishing workflows, servicing customers, connecting to insurers, prospecting new business and analyzing operations.

Case in Point:

Schultheis Insurance decided to automate eDocs and eMessages download to improve agency workflows and allow staff to focus more time on serving clients and building their books of business. The agency saves 100,000 hours per year by eliminating manual, paper-driven tasks through download.

Consider this Tech to Get Started: Download

Download automates the exchange of critical policy-related information from insurers to the management system. Ensuring the most up-to-date P&C and Benefits information is instantly available at the moment an agency needs it, download saves up to 60 minutes of time per employee per day.

 

Customer Satisfaction

Consumers today are in the driver’s seat in terms of whom they do business with and how they expect to be served. Businesses must focus on those demands and provide an enhanced customer experience. According to a survey by Deloitte, organizations that prioritize customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.

Digital agencies deliver superior customer service via self-service portals and mobile apps that provide policyholders with 24/7 access to insurance information. By offering multiple ways for consumers to interact with the business – whether it be in person, phone, online or mobile – digital agencies create happier customers, which ultimately drives business returns through enhanced retention and growth from new business.

Case in Point:

Hall & Company has significantly improved customer satisfaction by enabling clients to access certificates anytime at their convenience without agent assistance. With this technology, Hall & Company have increased client retention to 93% and saved $70,000 in COI labor, printing and postage expenses per year.

Consider this Tech to Get Started: Customer Self-Service Portals & Apps

Through an agency-branded portal and mobile app, customers gain the freedom to access insurance information, documents and online bill pay on demand. Customer self-service strengthens the agency/customer relationship and saves money by shifting transactions historically provided by agency staff to on-demand, online tools. Because of these efficiency gains, customer self-service often delivers a return on investment in less than one year.

 

Advice

The role of the independent insurance agent is to provide advice to customers. Despite easy access to insurance information and options via the internet, studies show that consumers still go to agents for expert advice. In fact, a J.D. Power insurance shopping study found that while 74% of consumers shop for insurance online, only 25% actually buy their policies online.

Leveraging integrated tools within their management systems, digital agencies can automatically find the best markets, as well as identify and highlight policy differences for new business and renewals, making them better risk advisors to both personal and commercial lines customers.

Case in Point:

618 Insurance Agency utilizes an online market search tool to instantly identify markets for commercial lines risks, enabling them to close more new and renewal business in less time and provide clients the best coverage.

Tech Needed to Get Started: IVANS Markets

Embedded directly within the management system, IVANS Markets enables more targeted marketing submissions via an agent-driven, real-time search engine for commercial insurance. Agents enter two fields to denote the specific type of commercial risk and then receive back information as to the most likely insurers to have appetite for that risk and appropriate pricing.

 

Trust

Customer trust is vital for all businesses, but absolutely essential in the world of insurance. A recent ACT survey of small business owners indicated that trustworthiness was the most important factor in the selection of their insurance agent. Customer trust requires agencies to be prepared to serve their clients regardless of circumstance. In fact, clients often need their agencies most during crises. Technology such as the cloud provides enhanced data security, operations recovery and anytime, anywhere access during any disruptive event.

Case in Point:

Fisher Brown Bottrell operates in the cloud to keep their data safe, software updated and business running smoothly – no matter the circumstances – so that they are there for their clients when needed most.

Consider this Tech to Get Started: Cloud

Cloud technology provides a flexible operating environment with scalability for business growth, stronger business continuity protection, increased mobile access to business information, and compliance related to data privacy regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. Hosting agency solutions in a cloud purpose-built for independent insurance agencies fosters client trust and peace of mind.

The ability for a business to seamlessly connect its employees with its insurers and customers is the future of our industry. It’s the path to value for an agency and its customers, and it is clearly the future of our industry.

 

 

Meet Reid French

As Chief Executive Officer, Reid leads Team Applied. He is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

 

We’re stoked! Reid French, along with Amy Zupon, CEO of Vertafore and Reid Holzworth, Founder and CEO of TechCanary will be sharing their vision on the Future of IA Tech with indie agents on the big stage at Elevate 2019. Get your seat now! And big <3 to Team Applied for partnering with us as Platinum sponsor to bring the Elevate unconference to our community.  

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