How technology will help agents win post-COVID-19
Author: Philip Charles-Pierre
For many agencies, enjoying a cup of coffee with a client as they make a monthly payment is a relationship-building tradition. Today, that cup of coffee may be shared over a Zoom meeting, and that payment is made with the push of a button. Post pandemic, some things will go back to the way they were, but others—especially digital practices that make peoples’ lives easier—are here to stay.
Technology will help an agency automate repetitive processes, identify new ways to connect with clients online and create more value in the process of buying and servicing insurance.
Here are three ways to optimize the use of technology to get ahead:
1) Transforming through digital.
Many agencies have been on the digital path for several years but COVID-19 has accelerated this process. Agencies that were using server-based agency management systems have moved to the cloud and teams that were office-based have embraced collaboration tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Now, many agencies are looking at opportunities to use digital for customer service. Agents need to keep advancing in this area because their customers expect it. Fifty-five percent of small businesses said they’d consider switching agencies if another could provide more digital capabilities that included online policy changes and billing and claims, according to a Semsee survey, which means agencies should consider adopting customer communication tools, such as text messaging, live chat and videoconferencing.
2) Expanding agents’ role.
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for consumers and businesses to understand their risks more than ever. Certain risks, like cyber, are growing exponentially, creating even greater concerns for insureds. This environment provides an opportunity for agents to advise and support clients in new ways.
For the majority of clients, price isn’t the sole factor in deciding what insurance to purchase. They want to get the best—and right—coverage for the best value. Clients want the ability to compare coverages and prices from multiple carriers. By automating insurance at both the front end—from quoting to policy issuance—and the back end—billing, policy change and other services—agents can create the efficiencies customers expect and free up time to invest in educating clients.
3) Building a niche business.
Agencies have access to mountains of data but don’t always utilize it. Many CRM and AMS systems offer capabilities to help analyze the data to determine trends and opportunities. Agencies could focus on a niche such as restaurant clients who are increasing deliveries or gyms transitioning to home business trainers. Or, identify and target new customer pools, such as former city-dwellers becoming first-time homebuyers in the suburbs.
By focusing on a niche, an agency can become the go-to expert. COVID-19 will have long-term effects on how we live and work and it’s important for agents to be at the forefront, analyzing trends for new niches and opportunities.
Success in these areas boils down to how agents optimize their use of technology. The right tools help agents better target and service clients virtually, give customers the seamless and efficient services they’re looking for, and provide insights on trends that can drive growth.
This article originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of Independent Agent Magazine.
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