Technology is rapidly changing the world we live in. It has created a new kind of consumer who expects 24/7 service from every company they do business with—and insurance is not immune. Agents must adopt a digital strategy to serve customers the way they want to be served.
To estimate technology adoption, Applied Systems surveyed more than 850 independent agents across the U.S., Canada, UK and Ireland. The 2019 Applied Digital Agency Annual Report evaluates the adoption of the five core capabilities of a digital agency, including management systems, mobility, insurer connectivity, cloud and data analytics, all of which work cohesively to drive digital transformation.
Here are a few key takeaways from the 2019 report:
1) 98% of U.S. survey respondents use a management system. U.S. agents understand that having a management system to run their business is critical. This almost ubiquitous adoption by agencies confirms that the management system remains the foundation of their businesses and is indispensable for their day-to-day operations.
2) 53% of U.S. agents have mobile access to management system information, and 21% and 33% offer customers mobile apps and self-service portals, respectively. The research shows that many U.S. agents are not taking advantage of the customer service tools available.
Today’s consumers demand anytime, anywhere service and businesses that don’t provide that risk losing their customers to alternative providers. Agency staff also demand greater flexibility and servicing options. Giving staff remote access to information and tools within the management system empowers them to quickly respond to client and prospect service and sales requests.
3) 91% of U.S. survey respondents receive downloads directly into their management systems. The majority of U.S. agents are automating the exchange of policy-related information with their insurers, ensuring the most up-to-date information is instantly available in their management system.
4) 75% of U.S. agents host software in the cloud. U.S. agents understand that by leveraging cloud-based software that is always accessible and backed up by redundancies, your business is available to customers—even during a catastrophic event.
Additionally, by eliminating the time and expense involved with managing IT systems, more of agency staff’s time can be spent selling insurance and servicing customers.
5) Only 21% of U.S. survey respondents use data analytics applications. The ambivalence towards adopting data analytics is likely due to the misconception that it is too complex and technical for agents to manage on their own. However, data analytics solutions have rapidly advanced, enabling agents to gather, process and get insights from data in real time for enhanced decision making and process optimization.
The survey indicates that there is still considerable opportunity for agents to digitally transform their businesses to provide complete connectivity to staff, insurers and insureds. Considering the core promise of insurance—to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives—it is vital to use digital technology to ensure independent agencies will be there for their customers when they need them most.
Michael Howe is senior vice president of Product Management, Applied Systems.