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Engaging digital native agents, customers and employees

Make no mistake, meeting new expectations is critical to your firm’s success.

It’s no secret that workforce demographics are changing as Baby Boomers retire by the tens of thousands every year and are replaced by Millennials. Also, with the oldest Millennials reaching their mid-30’s, age and maturity bring new responsibilities – making this consumer cohort a growth segment for the insurance industry.

Engaging digital native agents, customers and employeesAdd into the mix, the seismic shift to ubiquitous mobility and there’s one thing few dispute: The next generation of digital natives has arrived, with profound impacts on insurance distribution channels.

Although Millennial digital nativism is already well documented, what’s less well understood is how the traits and expectations of such digital natives impact their decisions to work for your company, agency or purchase products from your firm. Let’s consider what you need to know, why it matters and how to respond successfully.

 

Here’s what digital natives want

Of the various characteristics of digital natives, six traits stand out.

Always Connected. Tethered to their mobile devices, digital natives expect to be reached anytime, anywhere, by their colleagues or by their agent.

Always Networked. Beyond connectivity, digital natives are perpetual networkers, meaning they’re more likely to be influenced through their peers – the manifestations of which range from job board reviews to social media postings about interacting with your firm.

Multi-Taskers. As consummate parallel-processors and multi-taskers, digital natives expect workplace and purchasing applications to provide simplified ways to act – from preferring visuals to ubiquitous hyperlinks.

Seek Instant Gratification. As a side effect of connectivity, networking and multi-tasking, digital natives expect to be empowered to take control to complete tasks quickly and efficiently.

Value Personal and Relevant Interactions. Customized experiences are so important to digital natives they expect interactions to guide them personally.

Associate With Brands That Care About Their Causes. The most cause-driven generation to date, Millennials make purchases and accept jobs that align with their interests.

 

Here’s why it matters to your company

Despite considerable conversation around industry benefits from the larger pool of prospective employees and customers in history, it’s our experience that few agencies completely grasp the effects of Millennial expectations.

Yet we’re already seeing how the expectations of this cohort – and their digital immigrant cousins – are fundamentally altering the ways agencies need to do business.

Reach me anytime, anywhere: A single monthly customer communication, such as a bill, or workplace interactions between agents during business hours just aren’t enough. While touch frequency will vary depending upon the person and the situation, what matters is adopting mechanisms to ensure customers can interact with you, and employees can collaborate with each other, anytime and in any way they choose, day or night.

Influence me through my peers: Whether reading reviews online or posting one of their own, agents, customers and employees want to see the opinions of others and contribute to the dialog. This requires mechanisms to establish, moderate and maintain your firm’s online presence, which is a major departure from the industry’s traditional one-way communications approach.

Simplify ways for me to act: The implications of this expectation are vast. On the customer side, it requires increasingly complex technology capabilities, such as extracting information from a driver’s license – or a competitor’s policy – to pre-populate form fields. For employees, it’s about context-aware help systems that mature as information is gathered to enable agents to deliver value-added advice.

Empower me to take control: Like simplification, empowerment can take many forms. Just a few examples include advanced customer help options, like video chats, and robust agent collaboration spaces, such as discussion walls. Regardless, the key is providing assistance in context, which goes considerably beyond static “FAQ” lists.

Guide me personally: From shopping sites offering suggestions based on past behaviors to calendar apps sending automatic reminders, the expectation for personal guidance is pervasive. For agencies, this can manifest as providing customers with proactive suggestions to review a particular insurance posture when their life circumstances change. For employees, it means access to more sophisticated analysis tools, such as presenting multiple coverage options based on other insureds with similar circumstances.

Align with my interests: The most basic way to address this expectation is prominently articulating your existing charitable and pro-bono initiatives. More sophisticated approaches re-engineer what you’re already good at – mitigating risk – without resorting to scolding and admonishments, such as ‘don’t text and drive.’ Instead, you need data-driven ways to deliver content about how people can improve safety in common situations that relate directly to the products you offer.

 

Here’s what to do to stay competitive

It’s a necessity to have the ability to extend transaction capability deeper into the value chain (e.g. rate-quote-bind-service) from the MGA to its channels in a way that digital natives expect. The right approach requires the following:

  • Engage customers, partners and employees wherever
    and whenever they choose
  • Enrich these engagements with uniform and rich
    experiences
  • Leverage core applications and data

 

Here’s the next step to take

It’s not just a portal anymore – it needs to be a digital platform with access to current and future platforms. You have to have access to core legacy functions from the digital platform. You need to enable simple access to multiple core systems. The front end systems (digital platform) innovations need to be separate from core system challenges.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to enable ease of doing business to write and service insurance.

Originally published in the CHART Exchange digital magazine, May-June, 2017


 

View the on-demand webinar: Are P/C insurers willing to be left behind in the era of digital natives? to gain insights into how leveraging digital technologies, property & casualty insurers can engage customers and agents, and adopt emerging disruptive business models. Presented by Martina Conlon of Novarica, Michael Anselmo of NSM Insurance Group, and Don Chase of ValueMomentum, the webinar covers business, technology, and organizational considerations when evaluating your options to build a strategy to digitally engage your customers and agents.

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