The Future of Insurance: Creating a Digital Experience
We recently sat down with Forrester Research analyst Jeffery Williams to discuss the trend of agencies embracing a digital experience. Especially in the current climate, where we are all turning to technology to connect and communicate, Williams explained the implications and needs of agencies to use digital tools to engage clients and staff.
Forrester Research excels in coaching businesses on how to best reach and satisfy their customers. Based on his observations and research, Williams believes that offering a client digital experience—already an emerging trend—is especially important due to recent events.
COVID-19: Uncertainty affecting normalcy
COVID-19 has drastically changed how we live, and these are some of the most challenging and trying times since the 2008 recession. This uncertain climate impacts the independent agent, too. However, while this may feel like a time to run and hide, agencies have an opportunity to evolve their business. Think of that family-owned Italian restaurant down the street that pivoted to takeout meals or curbside pick-up to meet the needs of their patrons. Just like them, Williams implores agencies to embrace new methods of business to stay afloat, and the best way to do so is by implementing digital capabilities.
Digital is essential to the customer journey
With companies like Amazon and Netflix reshaping consumer expectations, we’re seeing a marketplace power shift from institutions to customers. Buyers now expect to be able to research solutions online and to communicate and interact with brands digitally—regardless of the industry.
Clients are also using a variety of tools to interact with service providers, so why shouldn’t they be using them with their insurance agent? According to Forrester Research, of U.S. adults who are online:
- 25% would use video chat with insurance agents
- 41% would use a smartphone camera to file a claim or get a quote
- 43% would use photos to transmit images of documents to their agent to prove their identities
In short, end-insureds want self-service capabilities to research their options and complete routine tasks while engaging an agent for more complex decisions and advice.
Agency staff benefit from digital capabilities, too
A digital experience enables agencies to meet clients where they are at—but clients aren’t the only beneficiaries. Independent agents are integral in distribution and critical for getting insurance products to clients. And they need appropriate tools to do their jobs correctly.
Think about the issues that legacy technology creates for agents:
- Tasks unanswered & unattended
- Docs without collaboration opportunities
- Inaccurate work re-direction
- Too much time executing and fixing manual processes
As Williams says, “modernized platforms providing workflow technologies and systems agility can bridge the gap” between old processes and new consumer expectations.
Invest in digital to win
To bridge that gap, Williams outlines three key steps to getting into digital capabilities:
- Invest in an agency management system that integrates with third party systems to boost digital capabilities. This provides faster quoting, rating, and policy buying to get customers covered more efficiently and quickly.
- Implement omni-channel delivery capabilities that allow customers to engage on their terms – when, where, and how they want.
- Pivot business strategies to become fundamentally focused on the customer outcome.
Staying ahead of the curve
Insurance is not a commodity. As Williams puts it, insurance is a service, with a large and diverse marketplace, in which a variety of agents can and will succeed. Agencies that listen to customers will be better equipped to reassess and improve their technology stack if necessary. In this unusual time, providing a digital experience that meets and even exceeds expectations is vital.
For more information on this topic from Forrester Research and analyst Jeffery Williams, check out this on-demand webinar: The Future of Insurance: Creating a Digital Experience.