Accenture’s analysis of North American insurance organizations’ public innovation announcements suggests that investments in customer experience and distribution innovations reap the biggest rewards. Agents, of course, play a key role in supporting the customer experience and extending distribution. That’s why we suggest insurers focus their innovation efforts on empowering agents across four dimensions—partner, growth seeker, collaborator and entrepreneur.

In previous posts in this series, we’ve looked at the types of innovations that will enable agents across the three dimensions of partner, growth seeker and collaborator. In this post, we’ll look at the fourth and final dimension—entrepreneur—a dimension that applies mostly to captive agents.

What does it mean for an agent to be an entrepreneur?

Being an agent requires an entrepreneurial mindset, taking risks, making difficult decisions and embracing change. If they have this mindset, agents can do a better job at identifying new opportunities, overcoming challenges and adapting to changing circumstances. All of which means they are better able to help sustain the insurance business.

And yet, according to HubSpot in 2018, sales agents spend only a third of their productive hours talking to prospects. The rest of their day is allocated to writing emails (21 percent), entering data (17 percent), researching leads (17 percent), team meetings (12 percent), scheduling calls (12 percent), training (11 percent) and reading industry reports (11 percent).

What do agents as entrepreneurs need to be successful?

Like all entrepreneurs, agents should be the master of their own time. They need the flexibility to manage personal tasks, as well as maximum visibility into what’s happening across the organization. Insurers need to let agents prioritize their own tasks and organize their daily activities—to maximize their time and performance and increase their sales productivity and efficiency.

The tools they use should help them to work paperlessly, to regularly plan and update their strategies, and to capture opportunities. They should also help them undertake the arduous but necessary and often ignored tasks such as meeting reports and avoid non-essential back and forth with customers.

Where digital innovations can empower agent entrepreneurs

Looking at digital innovations that will help agents perform their best as entrepreneurs, we recommend insurers focus on the following:

  • Provide tools that allow agents to accomplish more in the same amount of time, using their flexible schedule and downtime.
  • Speed their daily and ignored tasks by digitizing the experience.
  • Provide agents with relevant material to support their customer calls.
  • Digitize contracting processes.
  • Track and suggest the next best actions on commercial objectives and performance.
  • Digitize the team environment.

Agents of the future will need to be resilient and enabled to perform across the four dimensions we’ve discussed. Insurers willing to make thoughtful digital innovation investments that empower agents across the customer journey can expect to stimulate growth and see exceptional performance gains.

If you’d like to talk about how Accenture could help your organization support and empower agents during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, at the same time making the most of your digital investment spend, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jim directly.

To learn more about our research into digital innovations, read our report: Where’s the payback on digital innovation in insurance?