As property/casualty carriers turn to digital insurance distribution, shift to customer needs-based selling and team up with aggregators, they are envisioning a different role for agents. Indeed, 63 percent of carriers are giving high priority to refocusing agents on areas where they can add the greatest value, particularly deepening their customer relationships, according to Accenture’s new survey, Reimagining Insurance Distribution.

To that end, insurers have developed five main strategies, all of which are designed to promote sales and marketing optimization. Carriers are:

  • Strengthening agents’ ability and willingness to cross-sell, a skill that 54 percent of multiline carriers will strongly incentivize over the next three years, compared to 26 percent today. A key goal is for agents to sell more profitable products, which often requires them to spend more time consulting and dispensing advice.
  • Training agents to become more customer-centric and to interact with customers across all channels. Half of the survey respondents expect their agents to use digital and social media effectively for marketing, prospecting and lead qualification within three years.
  • Providing agents with customer data analytics to support sales, if steering prospects to the channel that best suits their needs drives them to agents. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents reported this as a priority. Meanwhile, 59 percent are prioritizing steering customers to the right channel based on segment.
  • Equipping their salesforce with digital tools, such as tablet apps, so it can provide customers a more personalized and efficient service. About two-thirds of surveyed carriers report this as a priority.
  • Re-evaluating their remuneration structures to incentivize the behavior they seek. Nearly 80 percent of carriers either are already doing so or are discussing it.

In the survey’s comments section, Nationwide Insurance’s Ron Kerr, vice president of multi-channel customer experience, agency and field solutions, succinctly summed up the future for agents in the new digital insurance distribution model: “We think it’s going to be difficult for a lot of agents to remain relevant if all they do is personal lines. Some will be big and innovative enough to still make a go of it, but we believe we have to help our agency partners diversify.”

To learn more about the study, download Reimagining Insurance Distribution.

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