Wanna make a bet?

Are you banking on the idea that today’s technology will eventually disappear? You might want to rethink that gamble, writes Adam Mitchell

Wanna make a bet?
We’re bookies. That’s what we do with insurance, after all. We take educated guesses to place financial bets for people. Every day you either write new policies or renew old ones for people and businesses and, en masse, you’re betting that only a few of them will pay out.

The other bet many brokers are making at the moment is that this Internet thing is a fad. They are actively betting that email will soon go the way of the beta tape and we will be back to carbon copy paper, face-to-face meetings and hanging our hats on ‘quality underwriting.’

I have news for you: Most brokers are making bad bets and pointing their businesses in the wrong direction. If you think this toothpaste will go back in the tube, you’re wrong. People across the globe, both young and old, are becoming addicted to the wonderful online world, and if you’re not in that space, you soon won’t exist to your clients or prospects.

To take it one step further, if you don’t exist on a cell phone, mobile or responsive web presence, you don’t matter to anyone under the age of 18. That might be a bold, sweeping statement but I, for one, would bet it’s closer to truth than fiction.

All of the smart money in insurance has and continues to invest in digital technology, from marketing and communication to efficiency and optimization tools. One broker launched an even better product, blending fleet insurance rates with usage for a pricing advantage. Another broker built an online user portal where large fleets can add and remove vehicles and drivers, and now that broker has a competitive advantage to win business.

Intact announced it is investing heavily in opening a digital centre that will house user experience and digital analytics specialists, project managers, front-end developers, research and development teams, and other experts – proof that they’re making digital a core part of their business.

Look where the smart money is going, and make smarter bets. Stop resting on your legacy laurels and how business used to operate three generations ago – ‘in the good old days.’ Your customers and prospects are now: Connected: Via the Internet, they are operating 24/7, and it’s assumed that you are, too.

Mobile: There are about 30 million people in Canada, and that means there are some 30 million cell phones in Canada, too. Mobile will make up 50% of your web traffic – assuming you have web traffic, that is. Social: Customers trust the feedback and ratings from friends and contacts.

If you don’t satisfy these traits, your customers and prospects will go elsewhere. They know they have options, and they are adept at finding useful information on the fly – the back button on a web browser is all too easy to push, and Uncle Google is always there for them.

If you don’t start paying attention to your customers and communicating with them in the ways they want, you will lose engagement, and eventually, they will take a look around and find someone better to do business with.

Using technology to the best of your ability means supporting – and often working with – customer-focused tools. Take the automobile industry, for example. Have you seen how quickly it’s changing?  Hyundai has a fully automated vehicle that can be driven on highways. BMW is piloting a car that balances both the ultimate driving machine capabilities and the enjoyment of driving with the idiot-proof accident. These are not Jetsons-like predictions of what’s to come, light years away. No, this is a couple of iPhone updates away; it’s happening now.

Business advisor, consultant and author John Spence said the equation for business excellence involves a combination of talent, culture, extreme customer focus and disciplined execution. If you haven’t yet adopted technology, now is the time to start.

All of us have had great experiences doing business with certain companies, and easy-to-use technology can help you get more of those great experiences for your clients. Whether you are disciplined enough to make the smart bet and actually use the technology available to you … well, that’s your bet to place.

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