The pandemic pushed many agents to adopt technology quicker than they had planned. Here's a look at how and why every workflow and process can be automated to create greater efficiency and value for both the agent and insured.
Never before have we seen a period of such rapid digital transformation. The pandemic has driven many businesses to accelerate or assemble their digital strategies to continue serving their customers or enhance their offerings.
Amid stay-at-home orders and the need to sustain operations and grow, independent agents are looking to digital technology and alternative customer service models to thrive.
While the pandemic pushed many agents to adopt technology quicker than they had planned, many would say it was time for a change in any event. Traditional, paper-laden workflows have weighed down agents' day-to-day processes and restricted the ability to deliver a superior end-customer experience. At the same time, customer expectations continue to evolve, shaped by experiences in other industries that already offer omnichannel and mobile-first customer service models.
These broader dynamics, now exacerbated by the need to work remotely, are taking digital transformation from a competitive advantage to a business continuity necessity.
Ultimately, these colliding forces are bringing our industry to a digital inflection point, leading to an opportunity for agencies to look at the ways to engrain digital technology across the roles in their organization. Literally every aspect of what an agent does is now open to reinvention: from the early stages of marketing and lead generation through sales and driving new business, as well as providing great service to managing renewals.
Every workflow and process can be automated and integrated seamlessly to create greater efficiency and value for both the agent and the insured. Let's talk about how to do this and, more importantly, why agents should do this.
Sustainability and Growth
Let's start at the very beginning—in the front office, where marketing and sales are the lifeblood of a growing agency. Agencies have historically found it challenging to attract and actively engage both prospects and customers.
The traditional way of marketing to customers, such as cold calling and mailers, is outdated. Nowadays, both prospective and existing customers will avoid calls and throw away any mailers before they even read them. The challenge becomes not only reaching these consumers but also finding a message relevant to their needs.
Other industries have redefined marketing to become extremely targeted, forever changing customer expectations of how they wish to be marketed. As the competitive pressure in the insurance market increases, it is critical for independent agents to look for ways to improve how they market the unique strengths of their businesses to their existing customers so they can protect their book, while also generating new leads that can drive growth at the agency.
Marketing automation enables independent agencies, small and large, to create and maintain robust marketing campaigns to send the right messages to the right prospects at the right time. Rather than sending one-off emails to celebrate a birthday or begin the renewal process, marketing automation allows the agent to build compelling and targeted marketing campaigns to nurture prospects and customers over time.
Along with the ability to create campaigns, agents can send pieces of insurance-related content to engage and educate customers. For example, if an agency wants to expand its cyber book it can create a marketing campaign for existing customers that includes a piece of content about cyber, educating them about why they need to add this coverage. Agencies should track and measure the results of the activity, such as open rates and click-through rates, which allows them to determine the best marketing content.
Further, when marketing automation is tightly integrated with the agency management system, this communication is automatically documented in the customer account for historical reference. The management system then triggers any related marketing or sales workflows the agency has set up.
Michael Howe is executive vice president of product management for Applied Systems.
This article is a shortened version of a feature story originally published in the November 2020 edition of Independent Agent magazine. Log in with your Big “I" credentials to continue reading.