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As the world of mobility penetrates into the property/casualty insurance space, we are starting to see carriers adopt mobility in several ways. One of the most visible is the use of mobile strategies to go after direct sales. While there is certainly much value in the direct space, where does that leave agents and producers? Will mobility marginalize agents, or should carriers with agent and producer-focused distribution models avoid mobility investments? The answer is that mobility is highly relevant to the insurer/distributor relationship and should be viewed as a digital platform for agent engagement and outreach. Below are two ways mobility can make it easier for agents or producers to do business with insurance carriers.
Mobilize key components of the agent portal
Most carriers that rely on agents or producers have either developed or are developing an agent portal strategy. This is a great way to encourage self-service, enable key functions and provide useful insight. Unfortunately, many portals can be somewhat complex, given the large amount of information and functions they need to accommodate. In many cases, the portal ends up looking like the complex internal systems they leverage. The end result is a robust tool that is limited in how it can be accessed and used.
Mobilizing a subset of agent-facing functionality for smartphone and tablet devices is a great way to extend the reach of an agent portal. This can be as simple as re-designing key content widgets of the portal user interface to be optimized for mobile device screen sizes. A great example of this could be mobile-friendly access to product information or analytics-based recommendations for “what product when.” Another popular approach is making it easier for agents and producers to access their book of business with the carrier. Sophisticated portals that provide self-service features can be mobilized for agents to manage their profile or perform basic transactional tasks such as completing a digital form.
It’s important to remember that the objective is to slim down the portal into a subset of key functions that may be useful to agents when they are not in the office. As the value of these simplified “mobile portals” increases, carriers can evaluate whether to develop a mobile app with additional agent functionality, such as lead management and/or profiling. Given the number of interactions that agents or producers can have with a preferred carrier, this approach has several advantages over the direct space.
Mobile messaging and alert notifications
Another great way a carrier can engage agents and producers is through timely notifications of relevant information regarding their book of business. The challenge has always been finding the balance between meeting an agent’s communication preferences without inundating them with information that overwhelms them.
A mobile notification center is a great way to present key notifications without overloading an agent’s email inbox or texting plan. It’s important to provide the agent with options to select which types of notifications they want to consume. Many carriers have some sort of agency preference capability today. It is also likely there will be some notifications which agents do not want an email or text. Having these agent notifications preferences managed through a central location makes it easier to deliver an engaging agent experience.
For example, some agents may want to be notified of policy renewals a month before term end, or receive a notification of the insured’s life change events such as marriage, children or birthdays. This type of outreach can be paired with analytics to help to filter and identify relevant events in order to enhance notifications with recommended actions or insights. By implementing these agent communication tactics using mobile, agents can exercise greater control over notifications and insights when and where they can be most useful to the agent or producer consuming them.
The mobile agent
As carriers continue to explore the multitude of ways to leverage mobile solutions, agents are adopting mobile practices, which allows them to leave their offices and increase their presence with insureds. This adoption further positions agents to continue to play a key role in a carrier’s pursuit of a deeper relationship with their insureds. It also paves the way for increased mobile outreach to the agents as a true digital platform with compelling solutions, such as mobilizing portal functions and alert notifications.
Editor’s Note: Centric Consulting’s Chad Caldwell and Jason Miller contributed to this piece. Caldwell leads Centric’s national insurance practice and Miller heads the firm’s Mobility Solutions practice.