“Agents are changing their platforms in order to engage digitally with their clients.”
John Tiene is an Executive Consultant at Strategic Agency Partners. John and Anthony discuss the future of the insurance industry and how agents should adopt certain technologies to better assist their clients going forward.
Necessary Digital Changes.
John: “It has to change and it is changing rapidly. The reality is, consumer expectations are changing. We have these little gadgets we carry around with us all the time. Particularly now through COVID, people have really adapted to utilizing that to manage their lives. You can order your groceries, take care of your dry cleaning, manage your investments. You can do pretty much everything from your phone, but your insurance.”
John: “Both insurance companies are changing their systems and providing bigger platforms for agents, and agents are changing their platforms in order to engage digitally with their clients. So clients today, consumers today, they want independence. They want control. They want to be able to do stuff that traditionally would require a phone call. They want to be able to add and change a driver.”
John: “So the new platforms that are available to agents, allow consumers to be interactive and have some control over what they’re doing. So it is changing and the COVID crisis is forcing people to become more digitally savvy. It’s become much easier to use technology, so anybody that’s resistant to this, you got to get on the train.”
Insurance Agent Relationships.
John: “It’s evolving so that it used to be the only way to talk to an agent was on the phone or you stopped in their office. Well, that’s evolving again. The consumer is always in the driver’s seat. So if the customer wants to be engaged digitally, ‘just send me a text, send me an email, I don’t have time for a phone call.’ That’s how you have to do it.”
John: “The last thing they want is to have to remember to call the agent, because that’s the only way they can communicate. They want to be able to send an email to somebody and get it done that way. Increasingly insurance agents have portals or apps where their clients can interact with them on the app and just do it digitally when they have the time. They can handle it and they can move on. You have the best of both worlds. You’ve got an insurance company with great interactive tools for their clients. And you’ve got an agent who’s got access to a variety of insurance companies that give you the right coverage and is working with companies that can give you that digital platform experience.”
John: “You can respond at your convenience as opposed to taking that phone call while you’re trying to get the kid in the bath. So that’s where these kinds of tools enhance the customer experience because it gives the customer more control, but it doesn’t diminish the interaction.”
Will agents ever be bypassed?
John: “There’s always a segment of the population that wants to go direct. That’s fine, there’s always a percentage. But the vast majority of people, both on the personal line side and on the commercial line side still want that trusted advisor. That person whose interest is yours and yours alone, to talk about your particular situation. There are a number of studies that say people are learning more, going on the internet, getting information, but they still want to talk to somebody.”
John: “Agents can make that ability to interact easy, simple, and at the customer’s determination. Whether it’s seven o’clock at night or eight o’clock in the morning. By text, by email, by video chat, whatever it is you’re going to establish a relationship. The customer can get the advice that they need, the counseling they need, the education, the information. Then the rest of that process can be a digital one, and that’s the key. As long as an insurance agent who’s knowledgeable and smart can develop a relationship with someone, they’ll always have customers.”