Bettering the Customer Experience through Partnership and Collaboration
Vertafore recently brought together thought leaders from all three legs of the insurance industry “tripod” that support the customer experience: agencies, carriers and vendors. Together, the representatives discussed how these three segments of the insurance industry can foster connectivity between themselves and the customer, and how to meet the expectations of the consumer, as well as the thought leaders’ vision of the digital future. Joyce Sigler, system intelligence officer at the Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency, Chris Cline, distribution leader at Westfield Insurance, Ryan Deeds, vice president of technology at Assurex Global, and Sharmila Ray, carrier solutions strategy executive from Vertafore, all took part in the discussion.
We identified a few key takeaways from the main theme, enabling connectivity, and how that helps meet consumer expectations.
The panelists agreed that data access is critical when it comes to connectivity, and that in order to achieve this, data should be in one consistent format that can be processed automatically. Data access should also involve the consumer, the four agreed: “The end user doesn’t care and doesn’t understand the players on the field,” said Sigler. “Part of the connectivity should be making it easier for consumers to get at the data they need—solutions need…to be all-inclusive, easy but complete.”
This access to data is essential to meeting consumer expectations too. “Consumers today assume brokerages have access to the same data partners and carriers have,” said Sigler. “Agencies are under attack from the consumer in a very good way that helps this industry push forward. We need to be more ‘once and done.’” Another aspect of meeting consumer expectations, raised by Ryan Deeds, was that “agencies don’t spend enough time on segmentation. We need to specialize…your focus should be on what would be valuable for servicing that business. For example, core personal lines should be done through texting.” This intel jibes with what The Council heard at its 2019 Insurance Leadership Forum, fall Working Groups and at InsureTech Connect: getting access to better data in order to meet consumer needs, and making it easier for consumers to purchase insurance quickly and efficiently were all themes during those meetings.
When it came to the panelists’ predictions for the future, all four touched on different emerging trends in technological innovation in the insurance space.
Joyce Sigler: “We’ve moved from the need for data to a need for being able to actually process all the data. There’s a tidal wave coming, and we need to figure out how to solve that need for effective data processing.”
Ryan Deeds: “I think you’re going to have more niches in agencies. You’re going to need to have a depth of expertise to have a value prop that attracts consumers.”
Sharmila Ray: “There are two big things happening: automation and analytics. I think there [are] a ton of small insurtechs…trying to solve the problem of commercial lines in order to get them up to the level of automation small personal lines are at right now. About analytics, there’s this concept of using data to drive better decision-making, but there’s also a trend of using artificial intelligence to help automate tasks that can be automated.”
Chris Cline: “There has been an interesting conversation about use of consumer/third-party data to help customers, but there’s also the difficulty about consumers becoming aware of exactly how much is known about them and their comfort level with that.”
All in all, this conversation highlighted how crucial connectivity is when it comes to meeting consumer expectations, which is the bedrock of success in the industry. Easy access to data in a standardized format will not only help brokerages dig down into the data so they can better help their clients, but will also lighten the burden on carriers, as exchanging data sets with broker partners and data processing will be that much easier. Connectivity between vendors and their agency and carrier partners will give vendors a better picture of their clients’ needs, so they can continue developing and strengthening their software solutions for their clients. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats”—connectivity, partnership and collaboration between agencies, brokerages and vendors is that rising tide.
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