The evolution of small businesses is creating a service challenge for independent agents—and an opportunity for carriers to provide efficient and effective solutions by expanding service center capabilities.
The Small Business Challenge
Small businesses require an increasing number of products beyond a business owners policy (BOP) to better protect themselves from emerging exposures such as cyber, employment practices liability, and errors & omissions.
Unfortunately, while carriers have become adept at managing BOP-focused small commercial business in service centers, they generally have not been set up to handle other lines. Consequently, agents are forced to either split the servicing of small business accounts—placing BOP business in a service center and retaining service responsibilities for other coverages—or retain servicing responsibilities for the full account. Generally, neither is a good solution; both preclude agents from fully capitalizing on service center benefits.
The industry sells agents on service centers with extended hours, increased agency efficiency and reduction in expenses. Agents aren’t realizing those benefits if only half of an account is serviced in a service center.
The good news for agents is the shift is beginning. To better serve small businesses with more complex exposures, select carriers have expanded their service center capabilities, and agents are beginning to place more specialty lines in customer service centers.
The more carriers work to stitch core lines together with specialty lines, the easier it is for agents to place business. With an all-lines customer service center, carriers are better equipped to serve small specialty accounts while improving the service experience for agents.
Small commercial service centers that serve BOP and specialty lines help agencies provide an all-in-one experience, while improving their economics and saving valuable staff time. As exposures evolve and grow in complexity, carrier service centers that can effectively serve all lines of risk for small businesses are well positioned to help their agent partners.
A small commercial service center should not only be able to manage specialty lines, but also offer a sales advantage for agents. The best service centers are staffed with licensed professionals who are ready to offer advice and suggestions to customers, help round out accounts and recommend necessary coverage enhancements. With a broader view of small business customers and their needs, service centers are well positioned to identify gaps in coverages and provide valued counsel.
Additionally, the best centers can help agents attract new customers. A service center that has broad expertise in a variety of coverages can help an agency expand its customer base, providing counsel and offering policies to prospects. That translates into more time, revenue, and value for the agency.
By placing total accounts into service centers, agents are improving the efficiency of their operations, better servicing their clients and generating critical growth.