The Future of Insurance
The Connected Agency: Transform Your Agency Through Technology
April 13, 2017
According to Ernst & Young’s 2016 U.S. Property & Casualty Insurance Outlook report, technology is the most impactful external force to the insurance industry. Technology is transforming agency operations, and forward-thinking agencies recognize the value and competitive differentiation that comes with becoming a connected agency.
So, let’s first define what it means to be a “connected agency.” Simply put, it is about the strategic implementation of technologies that help an agency better connect with insurers and insureds, and run internally on a more transparent and efficient basis. A connected agency enables agency staff to access and act upon a complete view of a customer or prospect, facilitating more cross-selling and upselling to drive agency growth. Further, mobility in a connected agency provides staff the ability to conduct business outside of the agency via mobile devices with an up-to-date view of client and business information. A connected agency uses enhanced reporting and data analytics to ensure principals and other agency managers can fully capitalize on opportunities to improve and grow the business.
Evolving toward the “connected agency” helps alleviate and eliminate very common technology and operational challenges that can hold an agency back. Agencies often struggle with separate, disparate systems that are costly, difficult to integrate and even more challenging to maintain. Agency employees have to enter data multiple times in a system and it is never fully clear where the single source of truth about the customer is. Lacking a complete view of the agency’s end customer, there are many missed opportunities to serve the customer in new and more complete ways.
A truly connected agency has better visibility, automates processes and information exchange, and deepens their connections with insurer partners, insureds and internal agency employees. A connected agency builds more profitable relationships with insurers and provides personalized service, both in-person and online, to attract and retain customers.
So, in what ways can agencies become more connected?
Here are three actions agencies can take to become more connected:
- Implement a foundational agency management system that delivers a single view across all lines of business for all staff members
A foundational agency management system ultimately promotes growth and efficiency by connecting all users and all lines of business through a single interface. In a connected agency, staff manage multiple lines of business such as P&C, Specialty, and Benefits, in the same application. Separate, disparate software applications result in duplicative and disjointed information about a customer or prospect. A single foundational management system provides staff with a comprehensive view of the customer or prospect across all lines of business, enabling staff to provide complete customer service while evaluating opportunities to cross-sell and upsell. Agencies can also follow consistent and common workflows for each segment of the business, automating operations to reduce inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
- Adopt mobile applications to provide employees remote access to customer information
Mobility enables agents to meet customer demand for anytime, anywhere access to information via their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Producers can access and input important policy information and client details directly into their mobile devices. With a direct link back to the agency management system, the information is updated in real time, providing all staff access to the most up-to-date activities, opportunities, risk analysis and more.
- Invest in data analytics for more informed decision making
Data analytics enables connected agencies to uncover business insights and make data-driven strategic decisions. Agencies can leverage their management systems to discover patterns, market trends, customer preferences, performance metrics and more to promote strategic business growth. Robust data analytics applications make analyzing data easier with graphical reports and dynamic, interactive dashboards.
As your agency evaluates its digital transformation strategy, consider the benefits of becoming a more connected agency. Technology has transformed the way in which agencies do business, enabling users to make more informed business decisions and capitalize quickly on new opportunities. Growth-driven agencies have learned to adapt to changes in the industry. In order to thrive in today’s market, businesses must become connected agencies as part of their digital transformation plan.
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Michael Howe, senior vice president of product management, Applied Systems, is responsible for the strategic direction of the Applied product portfolio. Howe joined Applied in 2013 with more than 20 years of experience in enterprise software. He formerly served as senior vice president of marketing and product management at Aptean, a global provider of industry-focused enterprise software. Prior to Aptean, Howe held senior executive management positions at SAP and other leading software companies.