The insurance industry is on the brink of a technological revolution. While other industries have marched steadily towards digital transformation for many years, insurance technology has remained the same for the past 20 years and has not kept pace with the technological sophistication of today’s end users. Consumers now expect to interact with all businesses, regardless of industry, online and demand easy-to-use, convenient options to interact and transact. The tipping point for the insurance industry occurred during the pandemic, at which time the “old ways” of doing business suddenly became obsolete and outdated systems slowed down carriers and agents from effectively doing their jobs in an all-virtual environment. Thus, one of America’s oldest industries was thrust into a technological renaissance to meet the new demand for market, societal, and environmental change. This change is occurring across all lines of insurance, from carriers to agents to consumers.
In the next phase of this digital transformation, the insurance industry will embrace more sophisticated and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), machine learning, automation, and software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) to overhaul the customer experience, reduce operational costs, optimize organizational efficiencies, and pave the way for insurance’s great renaissance.
The Digital Rebirth is happening
The Renaissance was a period of cultural rebirth starting in the 14th century. A similar movement has occurred over the last decade with digital innovations and advancements creating a business culture of greater efficiency, ease-of-use, and automation. Societal standards have also evolved. Digital technologies are more deeply embedded in our everyday lives, raising ethical questions about data privacy, governance, and more rapid market changes. It’s no surprise then that insurance-related companies that used to compete on price no longer benefit from this as an advantage. Customers have grown accustomed to having immediate digital access to anything they want, prefer examining policy options on their own before connecting with an insurance agent and buying, and have a greater awareness of how their data is collected, used, and protected by companies.
If customers have preconceived buying decisions in their minds on an insurance product, the Agent needs a rapid response process to ensure the lead remains engaged. Automation, AI, and machine learning are now the heartbeats of the insurance industry’s evolution, giving organizations a competitive advantage in a hyperconnected, data-heavy world to help automate and maintain compliant Agency Management processes from lead-to-sale-to-service. The increase in connected devices, social platforms, and blurring lines between one’s personal and professional lives means customer data has grown more sophisticated, and faster decisions from Insurance Agencies are expected by the Customer.
The adoption of automation and AI technology simplifies the process of data analytics by sorting through this intelligence to help streamline the customer journey and empower employees to better service their clients.
Today, consumers want to understand what they are getting for their money before they buy, while agents want an easier way to communicate the value proposition, be able to sell, and provide a greater level of service. Automation and AI technology cut through the noise by deciphering the pieces that are most beneficial to both parties, optimizing human resources, and simplifying the decision-making process for all.
The Customer Experience is all Digital
The notion that the insurance sector has resisted innovation is far from true. America’s oldest industry does currently uses emerging technology, but change has been slow. The pandemic brought to light that adoption was still far behind, agents were ill-equipped to pivot to an all-virtual environment overnight, and sweeping changes were necessary right away.
Remote work suddenly made selling insurance virtually a necessity. Many businesses then discovered there were more opportunities to integrate cloud-based software and digital capabilities into their daily operations. Second, most legacy businesses have not kept pace with the onslaught of connected devices or are able to host hundreds of agents from various locations rather than an office. The quantity of data therefore exploded. Finally, there is increasing competition from insurance aggregators, and customers are now more willing to switch to a competitor for a better experience.
This sets the stage for insurance companies to make significant investments in their digital transformation initiatives, selecting automation and AI as the hallmark of what will become an improved customer experience.
We’re already seeing these investments take place. Agents are optimizing their tasks with AI to find clients and interact with them in a mixed environment, using email, chat, mobile, and virtual communications. We’re also seeing AI applications such as chatbots successfully reduce time to claims, improve service efficiency, and ultimately, increase customer satisfaction. If automation and AI can reduce costs and free up agents to generate a more personalized, memorable experience, then the investment pays for itself.
AI is not the only emerging technology at the top of insurance companies’ priority list. Security remains a concern as SaaS-based models require the storage of sensitive data in the cloud. Beyond cost-cutting, the most essential component of adopting a digital model is about having a technology that agents can easily understand and integrate into their daily workflows.
Insurance agencies that leverage SaaS models open the pathway for efficiencies and customer experience to thrive. A digital platform like AGENCYMATE minimizes resources flowing toward IT maintenance and redirects it toward customer delivery. Most SaaS companies manage things like security, data encryption, and monitoring for you, empowering your team to focus on what matters most to the bottom line.
The technology powering the world’s biggest companies can benefit the insurance industry, too by automating agency processes, multi-channel communication, real-time customer data and information, and reducing the friction with meeting compliance standards. All this efficiency frees up insurance agencies, carriers, and agents, to focus on the experience. Policyholders for instance have numerous options to choose from and value their autonomy. Customers want the ability to access, review, or change policies on their own and value the personal touch of having an agent to connect with, via chatbot, email, or mobile. Experience is where insurance agencies can really shine, but it takes efficient solutions to create the journey.
If the Middle Ages could move an entire generation forward towards a renaissance, there’s no doubt that the challenges of a global pandemic and fast-paced technological society can inevitably steer companies today toward their own digital renaissance. Insurance companies are turning toward cloud services, automation, AI, and advanced analytics to inform business decisions and create world-class experiences that can compete beyond price.