A new report by Accenture surveyed over 1100 US independent property or casualty insurance agents, and asked them to state how important they found a range of issues. The overall theme seemed to be concern over the rise in online sales, and how this would affect their businesses:
- 39% thought that direct solutions was the biggest competitive factor
- 71% considered the lower costs of online sales was the biggest threat
- 48% saw better brand building with increasingly effective marketing campaigns as one of the top threats to their business.
The top two digital aspects were thought to be:
- Web-based service and claims
- Web-based quoting.
However, social media and mobile were given low importance rating by those who took part.
What is Important to Insurance Agents?
According to the Accenture report, insurance agents place more importance on keeping customers than either servicing customers or attracting new customers, yet if they had more staff finding new business would then become top priority. Cross-selling and up-selling would feature more as well.
Although they focus on the customer, agents don’t seem to put a large importance on providing advice to their customers. They felt providing a competitive range of products alongside customer satisfaction and brand recognition gave their customers more than offering advice.
Customers are finding this advice on insurance carrier websites, and are using the web more to compare insurance products and prices. Yet the personal touch offered by agents is still trusted more than the advice from a web page.
Is There Room for Carriers and Agents?
So is there still a place in the competitive market of insurance for brokers and agents, or will more and more customers turn to the web? Luckily for the industry, the answer is yes to the first part of the question.
In order to negotiate more effectively with carriers, insurance agents will need to look at forming alliances or associations with other independent agents. Shared investment equates to better economies of scale and increasing cost-effectiveness. Digital technologies and management solutions are just two areas that would benefit from cross-cooperation.
Opt for Insurance Software
Another aspect that insurance agents should consider is the use of insurance software. The focus is on managing and looking after the clients, so the right software acts as an important tool in customer retention. Insly, for example, offers a system complete with online cloud storage, allowing agents to access records anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
Customisation is straightforward, which helps build brand recognition and an easy to use interface ensures workflow is very simple for both client and salesperson. The agent need never miss renewals again, as all the clients, policies, and payments are managed effectively.
Retention came across in the Accenture report as the number one priority, and by using the reporting management system to track, cross-sell and up-sell, maintaining customers while ensuring improved servicing will help increase business turnover.
The Future is Still Bright
By using insurance software, independent agents can look to combine some of the benefits of web-based carriers with the personal touch an agent provides. Management and billing systems as well as online quotes are available, giving both customers and salesperson a more streamlined and efficient experience, without losing that human touch. Risto, Insly’s founder and CEO states “The first step an agent needs to take is to digitalise his own data to compete in the ever growing competitive online space. A simple first step of selling online policies and allowing clients access to insurance information online can be easily executed by a cloud based insurance software such as our product.”