Few industries are as old as insurance. Or as traditional. But a wave of pandemic-led innovations (and, consequently, customer expectations) has forced the industry to adapt. That puts insurance companies in a unique position.
Direct-to-consumer buying is on the rise, yet the bulk of engagements still happen through agents, whose time is valuable and whose roles are complex. This makes for drawn-out engagements. Average policy issuances can take weeks, if not months. Those interactions shape the customer experience.
Considering most independent agents are licensed to sell with a variety of carriers, how a company supports an agent’s use of web tools can make or break its relationships with agents (and by extension, with customers). We’ll explain:
Insurance agents are expected to use the processes and tools (both digital and paper) that their company (or the carrier they’re working with) provides.
And delivering poor agent experiences – say, undervaluing their onboarding process or making their day job harder – tends to have repercussions. When agents fail to understand the tools you’ve given them, everybody loses. They’re left frustrated and unequipped. They’re less likely to elevate your insurance offerings to customers (and more likely to avoid them altogether because they’re too hard to use).
But all is not lost: independent agents in particular are more satisfied than ever with the companies they represent. Overall satisfaction among personal lines agents, commercial lines agents and digital engagements are all up on last year’s scores according to JD Power. Let’s examine the secret to these successes: improving the agent experience.
Putting the independent agent experience under the microscope
If you take away anything from this blog, it should be this: it’s always worth taking a long, hard look at your agent experience.
The reason is simple. If your agent has to log in to multiple portals from multiple companies, human nature will pull the agent towards the company that offers the easiest, most frictionless experience for both agents and customers. Being an agent has its fair share of frustrations. At times of high stress (for both the agent and the customer), it’s easier to avoid firms and carriers linked with poor online experiences, given the effect it has on their customers.
Agents become invested in their customers’ success. Most feel personal ownership over helping them get the best plan available. If the companies they’re appointed with don’t equip them with the right tools to do that, frustration can snowball. It seems like an obvious fix, but it’s an important one.
Given how poor UX can reflect directly on an agent, you can’t blame them for steering their customers away from a sub-par experience that the customer might receive. Your company might well have lots of credibility, or a large foothold in the market. That kind of prestige only goes so far when your digital experience is exhausting to navigate.
In-house agents and the halo effect
The principle holds for your in-house agent experience, too. The happier they are, and the more equipped they are to do their job, the better experiences they will offer to your customers.
We call it the “halo effect”: your agent provides deal-making CX; the customer opts for your insurance company over others and assigns satisfaction to your company’s brand.
In a landscape where CX can make or break the competition, growing that halo is more important than ever. In addition to unique product offerings, differentiated CX can provide a competitive edge. It also unlocks a war-chest of further benefits:
- Improved levels of CX tend to drive up CSAT scores (…and the better your CSAT score, the higher your likelihood of better growth and profitability.)
- Heightened customer loyalty: Greater CX corresponds to greater customer loyalty. And research from SuperOffice shows that companies with a high customer experience score spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to six years.
- Word-of-mouth: In another study, 73% of consumers said it took only one negative experience for them to switch brands…with 44% saying they’d posted negatively about their experience.
- Social proof: 92% of buyers are more likely to purchase your insurance products after reading a trusted review.
Which all begs the question: what could the new insurance agent experience look like?
What Guided CX looks like for insurance agents
As an insurance firm, you’ll find a competitive advantage by combining digital CX with human-to-human service. At Glance, we call this Guided CX – and it’s when agents can join customers right inside a company’s digital spaces – their websites or apps – to guide navigation and answer questions, in-person and real-time, using technologies like cobrowse, screenshare, live video chat, and mobile app share. And it’s not just a great customer experience, it’s a great agent experience. And that can make all the difference for insurance companies. Let’s see how:
Real-time service and support
Shopping around for insurance policies isn’t necessarily stressful for everyone. But coming unstuck without support is. Take the example of a time-pressed customer who wants to submit supporting documentation urgently. That’s where being able to offer immediate, easy assistance pays off. We’re talking about a simple click of a button, where agents can connect with customers quickly and in-the-moment, to see what they see (except sensitive information), and guide them to a solution.
The support relationship doesn’t have to be restricted to agent-customers, either. Clunky, unreliable processes often result in agents getting stuck on the phone with a carrier’s contact center. When independent agents call in, contact center professionals can use Guided CX to offer help to agents who are selling their product.
Insurance customers don’t always get stuck on navigation issues. They might be torn between two similar products and need wisdom as to which choice is best for them.
Imagine if, as a customer, you were able to reach out to an insurance professional at the company you’re looking to work with. You’d be able to consult with them about the policies they offer and know best. You’d also be able to ask them questions from your personal experiences to better determine the fit of one offering over the next in cases unique to you, your family, or your lifestyle – all while navigating the screens in context together, to be sure, when you make the selection, you’re making the right one. So as an insurance provider, whether your agents are in-house or third-party, they could offer this experience to your customers. Talk about a CX game changer.
Customers should expect help from agents without leaving their app or website. And being able to complete their interaction without being passed between agents and departments is just as important. Agent applications should not be siloed, one from the next, so they can keep their work in context with the needs of their customers.
Insurance items contain all kinds of sensitive data. Making it easy for agents to build customer trust is vital, but so is preventing them from seeing personally identifiable information – that’s a matter of compliance.
From a lack of clarity around policies to dubious quotes and even payout confusion, losing a customer’s trust is easy. But Glance’s Guided CX technology helps agents keep that trust intact. Crucially, it gives agents’ compassion a chance to shine through, face to face. Customers get personal interactions as they’re walked through tricky experiences. “Small” things, like being able to see the agent’s calm, smiling face, make the biggest differences in otherwise stressful circumstances.
Giving your agents the support they need
Whether they use one portal or many, agents should be positioned in a way that lets them support customers however they need it. And that comes when you equip them with the means to deliver to customers the best possible digital guidance.
Agents and their customers share a common bond. And to draw strength from that bond – our common humanity, the care and compassion with which they do their jobs – both agents and customers deserve a simple, stress-free experience. The path to achieving this starts by equipping your agents with the means to join their customers in your digital properties to work – and smile – together.
If you’ve not considered this opportunity until today, now’s your chance. Define the new insurance agent experience, differentiate your customer experience from your competitors’, and ensure your products remain top of mind for independent agents – and their customers. It’s a tempting combination. Wow them with a modern experience, but one that relies on the most powerful connections we have – each other.
Want to learn how Guided CX with Glance makes interactions between insurance agents and their customers easier, clearer and more valuable? Dive into our solutions page here. Or see for yourself: book a Glance demo today.
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash