Self-service technology – don't worry, clients will still need you

Self-service technology – don't worry, clients will still need you | Insurance Business America

Self-service technology – don't worry, clients will still need you

There is no denying that workflow has been enhanced over the last 18 months as agents have embraced digital connectivity. Indeed with ongoing adoption of self-service technology, agents can now work with policyholders in a much more efficient manner.

Read more: Pandemic heightens urgency of brokerages and agencies to digitalize

Vertafore’s Insurlink platform is a prime example of how a mobile app can not only solve challenges brought about by the pandemic, but also set a lasting precedent to how agents facilitate business in the future.

Doug Mohr (pictured), VP of industry relationships and partnerships, spoke to Insurance Business at this year’s Insuretech Connect conference in Las Vegas about how the organization offered its self-service technologies to all customers for free during the pandemic.

“In the fall when the dust was beginning to settle, we went back to account managers and asked if they wanted the service to be taken off the account, but most customers decided to keep the technology,” he said.

“One of the big objections to using a self-service portal in our industry with independent agents is they felt it was taking their relationship away from policyholders,” Mohr noted. “Once they went through the process, they realized it could actually enhance their relationships.”

Self-service technology additionally gives customers the autonomy to decide how to communicate with their agents.

“You have to think about how a consumer would want to interact with an insurance agent. As we’re beginning to meet with clients in-person again, we’re not going to stop using the technology we adopted during the pandemic, we’re going to augment those relationships and offer customers a choice to how they want to interact,” Mohr explained.

When it comes to adopting self-service technology, it has to add value to the business.

 "It can't just be technology for technology's sake," said Mohr. “You have to put the right tools in to support the overall strategy of how you want to service your customer and build that out, in addition to building personal relationships.”

There are two challenges agents currently face with adopting self-service capabilities for their policyholders. The first is dealing with internal battles within an agency and selling them on why they need the technology, the second is making the customer comfortable with utilizing the technology.

There are countless benefits when customers are provided educational tools to using technology. “It’s as easy as a five-minute video, giving real world examples to why they want to use digital technology to work with their insurance agent, and what to do with it,” he said.

“Agents can also use education as a competitive advantage when selling new business,” he added. “For example, a client may not know you can add holders to a certificate of insurance on a portal. Forward thinking agents are using that in the sales process for new business right now, which will lead to an increased win ratio because they’re leveraging that self-service digital technology.”

Read next: How can brokers help clients see the wonders of insurtech?

Vertafore also offers service beyond the self-service portal. “We just updated the technology in our personal lines comparative rating solutions program (PL Rating) to make it mobile, responsive and enhance workflow for agents,” Mohr emphasized.

Agents can start the quoting process right from their website, and the program filters out who does not qualify and gives back a first indication rate of what the premium is going to be. The program then asks customers if they want to talk to an agent.

“New quotes are entered into PL rating and there’s no duplicate entry, so the agent can finish the binding process and collect all the information to get a full rate quote. Then the best carrier can be chosen based on their needs,” he said.

From a workflow perspective, tech adoption ultimately improves the quality of communication, minimizes redundancies, and reduces the potential for error, mitigating E&O exposures by having automation on the front end.