Thought Leadership

To Succeed, Insurance Agencies Must Meet Clients’ Digital-Age Expectations: Report

Independent insurance agents and brokers need to make a big leap forward to engage with today’s digital-savvy customers, according to a new report from Market Insight Group and Applied Systems, a provider of management and analytics software platforms for insurance agencies.

For the report, “Adaptability: The insurance customer experience imperative in an online digital mobile society,” the researchers surveyed 1,200 North American and U.K. agency/brokerage owners and customer service reps about their customer engagement efforts.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents said they plan to help clients over the next two to four years by interacting with them through email; eight out of 10 said they would use face-to-face meetings.

The researchers said that might not be forward-thinking enough for consumers who are becoming accustomed to multichannel customer service. They describe client interaction as a set of phases, with Phase 1 representing traditional channels such as face-to-face, telephone, and snail-mail; and Phase 2 representing email and web portals. Agencies and brokers are firmly staked in Phase 1 and 2, whereas clients are comfortable with an “Amazon experience” involving Phase 3 channels: mobile apps, interactive online content, and social media networks.

“If you think of Amazon, they are constantly reaching out to you, seeking feedback, making recommendations,” said Kris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience at Applied Systems, in an interview with “These digital firms have learned over time and have shown what it means to engage with the customer and drive a conversation.”

But agents and brokers aren’t gaining much traction in these channels. The survey revealed that about 20 percent of respondents plan to use social media conversations to engage with clients in the next two to four years. Web-based channels such as click-to-chat and click-to-call didn’t fare well either, with only about one out of 10 respondents saying they would pursue those means of communication in the future.

The hurdles keeping independent firms from expanding their digital customer engagement include a lack of time, staff, and money.

To help agencies move in the right direction, the report includes some practical guidance for developing customer engagement strategies. These include six “insurance firm capabilities” that the researchers suggest agencies develop for each step of a customer’s journey.

To learn more, download the report at this link.

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