According to a recent Accenture survey of insurance executives in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America, carriers around the world are moving steadily toward a digitally-enabled omnichannel distribution model. Every stage of the sales process is affected, from discovery of information through to advice and purchase.

Survey results show that 60 percent of insurers are prioritizing the creation and extension of their omnichannel capabilities to provide a seamless and responsive customer experience across all channels. But as insurers make this shift, they are rethinking the roles they expect their physical channels to play.

The Changing Role of the Agent Adding Value in an Omnichannel Environment_Accenture INS (Figure 1)The Changing Role of the Agent Adding Value in an Omnichannel Environment_Accenture INS (Figure 2)

Today, nearly two-thirds of carriers are placing a high priority on refocusing their physical channels to the stages of the sales process where they can add the greatest value. They want agents and brokers, for example, to increase their cross-selling and sell more profitable products. They also place a high value on agents improving their advisory skills with regard to complex products, and enhancing their sales interactions with customers across multiple channels.

In order to achieve and sustain these changes, carriers are re-evaluating their remuneration models—79 percent are in the process of restructuring their compensation, or are in discussions about it. This includes incentivizing agents to:

  • Increase the sales of more profitable profits.
  • Stay connected with customers.
  • Target new customer segments.
  • Increase cross-selling.

Carriers are also targeting a different set of skills when they recruit agents for the omnichannel era. For example, half of survey respondents expect that their agents, in three years’ time, will be able to use digital and social media effectively for marketing, prospecting and lead qualification. They will also screen new candidates for their ability and willingness to cross-sell, provide complex advice and build a strong rapport with customers.

Finally, insurers plan to equip their agents with the tools they need to perform their new roles. In addition to enabling them with tablet apps, carriers are providing customer data analytics at the point of interaction to help agents close the sale. Customer data is also used for segmentation, enabling prospects to be steered to the channel that best suits their needs. Mastery of data and analytics is critical to understanding the potential value of individual customers, the right channels to reach them, the right time to engage, and the right offers and messages to use.

The pace at which insurance distribution is transforming is accelerating. The question facing every insurer is: Do we dictate the nature and pace of our transformation, or do we allow others to set the agenda?

To learn more, register to download the Reimaging Insurance Distribution report.

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