The need for speed has never been greater for life insurance agents as they compete to meet the fast-evolving demands and expectations of today’s connected consumer.
In our mobile digital economy, agents expect the commissions they earn to be processed automatically and delivered without delay. To remain informed and competitive, agents also require instant and reliable mobile self-serve capabilities to access key information such as commission statements, commission-status notifications, premium updates and much more.
Unfortunately, most of today’s agent-compensation systems have been in service for several decades and are in need of modernization for a new era of competition and service. Certainly, insurers over time have made efforts to implement various innovations to better manage the needs of agents. But integrating largely outdated compensation processes with the cutting-edge digital capabilities, applications and cloud services of insurers’ consumer-centric product lines and customer services is a challenge for many firms.
Complicating the picture is the fact that as insurers adopt new business models and processes in the digital economy, many are working with an unprecedented array of independent agents – as opposed to their traditional reliance on dedicated agents. And in today’s hypercompetitive environment, independent agents are migrating to market leaders that can deliver a digitally enabled ‘agent experience’ featuring fast and convenient compensation and data-sharing processes.
Let’s give agents the modern processes they need
As the pace of change in our digital world continues to accelerate, self-serve agent-centric systems powered by today’s game-changing digital capabilities are the order of the day if insurers hope to attract and retain agents, remain competitive and drive revenue growth.
How serious is this issue for the industry today? I believe it is now perhaps the most-daunting task for organizations in North America. And I would also suggest that in the race for revenue, there is no time to lose in replacing aging capabilities with agent-centric digital applications that are integrated across all of the insurer’s evolving product and customer-service capabilities.
A modern agent experience delivers a fast and super-efficient array of digital self-serve applications and automated capabilities, featuring the flexibility to choose personal preferences on how payment notifications and other key information is provided and shared. A modern experience will accelerate outdated commission-approval processes – eliminating payment delays that typically arise when an agent’s commission exceeds a preconfigured commission threshold the insurer has applied.
The need to rely on call centres for agent support and data is minimized as well – ultimately accelerating the speed and productivity of every agent’s interaction with the insurer. And the organization benefits amid lower call volumes and call-centre costs.
Agents are on the front line as insurers chase revenue
Catering to the agent is absolutely critical today as insurers compete for business amid the proliferation of innovative products and services – and the unprecedented challenges of bold market entrants that include major banks vying for a piece of today’s insurance market.
Market leaders understand this and are wisely adopting game-changing digital technology that will inevitably attract and retain agents and ultimately enhance business growth and profitability. This includes transforming their agent-compensation systems to effectively integrate with the organization’s end-to-end digital capabilities and lines of business.
Insurers relying on yesterday's processes need to assess their current capabilities and identify the custom strategies and workflows they need in order to meet the service expectations and personal preferences of their agents. In my experience, it’s crucial to reach out to the agents themselves for essential insights on what they expect and want in a transformed agent experience.
Timely agent insights are key to developing a truly effective transformation roadmap that ultimately delivers an experience agents will embrace and come to rely on over time. To meet your objectives, every roadmap must include a clearly defined destination – and your agents are your best navigators on the agent experience transformation journey.
Begin the transformation journey with a clear roadmap
Some firms fail to see the importance of this step and mistakenly launch costly initiatives that take a technology-first approach – without truly understanding what agents need. I have seen this mindset cause more than one transformation project to go sideways, requiring costly fixes to customize applications and features to make them more appealing and truly useful.
A smart roadmap for a successful journey also demands collaboration among leadership to identify and implement the most-appropriate technology and services – and how best to transform current processes and IT architecture without incurring business disruption.
This includes smart strategies for the rapid and seamless adoption of game-changing cloud services and applications. Change management as the journey unfolds is also essential. It’s crucial to engage your people and bring them along from the start, motivating them to adopt new processes that will revolutionize how agents and insurers do business.
Leading insurers understand that catering to today’s agents with a digitally enabled experience is the new reality. Transforming outdated processes and systems will drive dramatic new advantages for agents as well as the insurance organizations that they choose to deal with in today’s fiercely competitive and fast-evolving industry.
For more information on the capabilities of agent compensation system migration and our practices in this area, feel free to contact me.