By Cassie Carlon
The insurance industry has had a reputation of being late to the game when it comes to adopting new technologies. But in today’s digital landscape, it has become apparent that insurance agents, brokers and carriers are embracing new technologies to remain competitive and grow their businesses. In fact, according to Accenture’s insurance blog, about 96 percent of business executives say innovation at their companies has increased over the past three years.
Below are a few tech trends we see the insurance industry deploying effectively for a competitive advantage:
- Increased use of sales enablement technologies.
Carriers and agents will continue to use tools to effectively track and engage buyers and help them move through the sales funnel to purchase, as well as address, subsequent needs post-purchase. A CSO Insights study found that the use of sales enablement tools is on the rise. Sales enablement encompasses all of the tools—from onboarding, to training, marketing and sales and analytics—that sales people need to sell more effectively and deliver a better customer experience. According to the CIO study, only 20% of organizations reported using sales enablement tools in 2013. That number increased to over 60% in 2019.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are a “must-have.” Similarly, agents also want to gain an understanding of who the lead is, what they need and how they can better serve them to drive more effective communications and sales enablement, fuel analytics and future programs. That often starts with leveraging CRM databases, like Salesforce, Velocify and VanillaSoft to track prospects and leads.
With over 200 options to manage relationships with prospects, insurers are at a crucial point to adopt CRM technologies. Carriers and agents need these CRM and sales enablement systems to integrate with each other, as well as other technologies—from sales automation systems to mobile apps— to enable access to real-time data and a more seamless process.
Many are looking to CRMs that help track leads and integrate with other emerging technologies. Advancing CRMs are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize workflows, data entry, workflow automation and integration with chatbots and even signals from IoT devices, to help manage and track customer interactions. Some of these databases may also help to enable some aspects of sales enablement, such as with Hubspot’s CRM providing marketing automation, starting to further blur the lines from CRM to sales enablement.
- Personalization and real-time delivery.
Use of the above technologies and others, are being fueled by the need to provide a better customer experience. Knowing how to cut through the noise in an appealing and helpful way to reach people and inspire them to act, is key. Technology has enabled a world of extreme customization and on-demand experiences.
According to Accenture, 90% of insurance executives say that integration of customization and real-time delivery is the next big wave and competitive advantage. Additionally, nine out of 10 insurance executives believe a tailored approach will give companies a competitive edge. The firm says the ability to fulfill consumers’ needs at the ‘speed of now’ will be the way to stay competitive. The insurance industry must harness this technology to deliver the superior customer experience that consumers are quickly coming to expect in order to stay competitive.
One way agents and carriers need to deliver on an enhanced experience is through mobile. Consumers want to research plans, compare options and buy insurance products when they need them on the device they choose, and often that’s on their mobile phone. According to Google, in 2019 more than half of all search inquiries came from a mobile device. This increase in mobile phone usage has influenced our marketing, design and development team to concentrate on a highly mobile-optimized user experience. We’re seeing a consistent and highly effective mobile push from both the carrier and broker/agent levels and we think mobile apps will be the industry standard very soon.
- Data protection and security.
Finally, consumers want to be able to maintain a level of privacy from certain levels of outreach and know information about them is protected and secure.
Consumer data protection has become a popular topic in the media, therefore we can anticipate more states embracing a data protection policy similar to the European GDPR. California was one of the first states to adopt such a policy with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCP), which went into effect January 1, 2020. With more legislation centered around protecting consumer data, we anticipate a big push towards industry-standard software to confirm a company’s right to contact consumers and store their data. Compliance continues to be a top priority for insurers and it’s a smart strategy as governments and consumers continue to question how data is used and stored.
Technology plays an important role in today’s world. It’s important for insurers to embrace it and constantly evolve. If they don’t, their competitors will.
Cassie Carlon is VP of business development at NextGen Leads, specializing in driving targeted and validated sales leads to carriers, insurance agencies and independent agents in the health, Medicare, and auto insurance industries. She can be reached at Cassie.Carlon@nextgenleads.com