Although agent adoption of technology is picking up steam, many in the insurance industry are wondering how to take it a step further: making technology integral to agents’ sales behavior.
How can we as an industry build upon existing automation investments? And how can we influence behavioral change in the distribution channels that remain paper-based?
The answer lies in providing enough value to the end user to drive the desired change. In-good-order submissions, faster commission payments and cost savings from eliminating paper processing are no longer compelling enough to drive widespread change in agent behavior. Today, these values are mere baseline requirements in automated business processing platforms. Encouraging end user adoption and influencing behavior change requires delivering additional values for the end user at a price point that enables successful ROI implementations for the home office.
In order to broaden automation adoption across multiple distribution channels, we must first understand what motivates and drives each target audience. After evaluating the unique focus of different agent/channels, the universal truth is that agents do not place value in how business is actually processed, but rather how efficiently they can process sales. The former only becomes a concern when an issue arises in the process that impacts sales or client relationships. This means agents will continue to use paper forms over automated electronic forms if it avoids business processing issues that negatively impact their clients.
So the real question is: What values entice the agent to migrate to digital forms and adopt an alternative automated approach to processing business?
Since in-good-order submissions, faster commissions and elimination of paper processing cost are baseline requirements, automated business processing must begin to take into account the complete business picture instead of simply focusing on the business requirements of automating business submissions. The technology must meet the end user where they are or want to be.
For example, a sales agent armed with a form and a pen has the flexibility to engage with a client anywhere at any time. If technology handcuffs agents to a desk or an Internet connection, this does not meet the agent where he or she is, or more importantly, where he or she needs to be. If technology is reliant upon an Internet connection and the agent is unable to connect while meeting with a client, the technology prohibits the agent from doing their job effectively, inadvertently influencing the agent to revert back to the way they know how to process business: in this case, with paper.
Meeting agents where they are is a key to securing their acceptance of new technology, and that means today’s automation must deliver sales processing benefits and added abilities including:
- Support for tablet devices and a single business process across devices
- Disconnected support for anytime business processing
- Multiple electronic signature capture capabilities
- Automated payment processing
In addition, providing an intuitive process without the heavy burden of training and learning curve is an absolute necessity. By leveraging existing carrier forms familiar to agents, an automation solution can be simple for agents to adapt and adopt.
A process that provides these additional end user values while meeting the end user where they already are presents a solution capable of driving behavioral change—making a positive imprint on agent sales and client relationships in the process.
Jim Ferrell is Vice President of Product Management at Insurance Technologies and leads development of the company’s FireLight product.