Carriers that make it easy for agents to do business with them see more and better business from those agents.
Our technology is rooted in the belief. In 2009, we traveled over 1,500 miles in 30 days to visit 66 agencies to learn exactly what carriers (and the vendors that support them) can do to further the cause. And it didn’t stop there. Our in-house Agent Insight Team continues today to bring the latest agent findings to light on our dedicated website http://www.powertotheagents.com/.
Given this level of agent fanaticism enthusiasm, you can imagine how pleased we were to read Novarica’s recent Agent/Broker survey: What Agents Really Want. On topics large and small, many of Novarica’s findings echo our own…
Email: Novarica reports that email has “transformed the way agents do business, becoming the default channel for many interactions with prospective customers, current customers and underwriters.” While the convenience of email for agents is clear, carriers must be thoughtful and collaborative when they use it to communicate with agents. In our webcast with ACORD, The Top 10 Things that Drive Agents Nuts, Independent Agent, Mike Foy and Agencyport’s Caleen Alexander review some of the pitfalls and best practices of emailing with the agent channel including how to set boundaries around what comes in email, who receives and sends the email, and what workflows to incorporate with attachments and information within the email. Interested in a tool that allows agents and carriers to integrate emailed ACORD forms into a digitized workflow? Check out Turnstile.
Agent Portals: According to Novarica, “…agents consider agent portals to be their most important tool by a large margin—respondents ranked portals as most important over Agency Management Systems by a factor of nearly 2:1.” Needless to say, we’re fairly biased on this front, but in our experience, a modern, intuitive best of breed agent portal can make the difference between a mediocre agent/carrier partnership and an exceptional one.
Shifting Customer Expectations: One of Novarica’s key findings is growing and changing expectations of both consumers and policyholders—and agents’ resulting need to accommodate them. Increased regulatory complexity as well as the pervasiveness of online capabilities both play a role in these changes. The result is a customer who wants to do more of some things online and consult with their agent as needed. We address this growing online/offline hybrid need and how some agencies are seizing the opportunity in our Agent Insight Report Going Direct: Where do Agents Stand?
The Relationship. “Relationship is key,” summarizes Novarica. “A relatively high number of agents named the relationship as the worst thing about their second-place carriers. Agents voiced complaints about ‘communication,’ response time,’ ‘unfriendly’ interactions, and in one case, a carrier that ‘shows no interest in being an agency partner.’ In our eBook, A P&C Carrier Guide To Boosting Carrier Loyalty, we talk a lot about agent/carrier relations—the importance of clear communication, efficient and easy-to-use technology, a willingness to remove obstacles where possible, the critical role of carrier field reps and more.
Congratulations and thanks to Martina Conlon and Novarica. The study is broad, thorough, and—from where we sit—spot on!