The agent of the future – EY Survey Report
Article Synopsis :
Technology advancement and ubiquitous connectivity enable people to stay in touch and interact in real time, ultimately rewriting the rules of customer engagement, acquisition and servicing in various sectors including insurance.
EY recently surveyed 530 P&C and life insurance agents to better understand trends, growth strategies and specific ways in which engagement rules have changed. Respondents were asked about carrier selection, support and perceived value, as well as future growth engines and how they see the role of agents evolving in three to five years.
This report, “The agent of the future”, documents key findings of the survey, and offers EY’s take on the extent to which insurance agents and brokers will either succeed or fail based primarily on their ability to adapt and collaborate with insurers and customers who are increasingly digital.
To what extend are agents ready to accept digitalisation? According to the survey:
- 47% – Accept an app guiding them through a customer interaction and displaying an action plan
- 63% – Value illustrative sales tools
- 77% – Value apps identifying potential opportunities within the existing book
- 50% – Need new and innovative products for business growth
- 80% – Would consider giving up a role in servicing to focus on sales and growth
- 55% – Would consider a lower commission to shift some servicing burden to carriers
- 40% – Question their preparedness to meet the needs of the next generation of customers
The report identifies four key themes that emerge from the survey findings:
Theme 1: The threat of D2C and digital business models is driving insurance agents’ desire to use digital and social sales tools
- Agents are looking at social media to generate leads
- There is an appetite for mobile-enabled, analytics-guided sales tools
- Carriers are trying to create a seamless experience for agents and customers by owning client servicing
- Agents are being enabled to assume a customer advocate role
Theme 2: Agents expect carriers to enable simple customer and agent experiences, which in turn drives agent loyalty. Specifically carriers should:
- Step-up strategy and investments in terms of technology tool kits
- Deploy investments for enhancing customer relationships with strong sales force and service effectiveness
- Increase the use of digital platforms to enable smoother operations and servicing for agents
Theme 3: The agent of the future is looking for innovative, customized products to meet changing market and customer demands
- Alternative distribution models are forcing carriers to rethink their agency strategy
- Carriers need to support agents with new forms of products around wearables, connected home and telematics
- New products and increased cross-selling will force demand for new skill sets across agents and carriers alike
Theme 4: Agents see close collaboration with carriers (i.e., more access to underwriters, less servicing by agents) as driving future growth
- Agents feel the need for seamless interactions with carriers and streamlined underwriting processes
- A digital platform for interaction across agents, carriers and underwriters, eliminating interaction time, would reduce time spent on servicing creating more time for selling
- Recruitment, training and retention of agents is essential to delivering enhanced customer value
Ultimately carriers and agents must collaborate to understand pain-points and deploy strategies to strengthen the agency system. The below framework is useful for putting this collaboration in context:
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Digital Insurer's CommentsOne of our core tenets here at the Digital Insurer is: The consumerization of technology is driving change in enterprise technology at an accelerating rate. We believe this report reveals a growing tension between carriers and agents in catering to increasingly digital consumers.
Agents want simple customer and agent experiences, they want innovative customized products geared for a changing world, they want more access to carriers (and underwriters) and less servicing done by agents themselves. But delivering these things puts carriers in a better position to interact with end-consumers directly, no? Digital technology is ultimately a disintermediating force. Agents beware.
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