DIGITIZING THE APPLICATION AND RENEWAL PROCESS: THE AGENT AND CLIENT PERSPECTIVE
To remain competitive, agents must modernize their client experience strategies and technology
By Dan Post
Customer expectations are changing in every industry, prompting businesses to find new and innovative avenues to sell their products and services. For example, you can now order groceries online, restaurant delivery apps are thriving, and you can even use your smartphone to find someone to walk your dog.
Consumers’ expectations of insurance are changing, as well. Studies show that 52% of consumers are willing to switch insurance providers for greater online service. Agents must modernize their client experience strategies and technology to remain competitive in this ever-evolving industry.
As a third-generation agency, we are accustomed to these transformations. Post Insurance was founded by my father in 1956. Since then, we have had to incorporate new ideas into our client experience strategy to keep up with clients’ needs and demands. Our application and renewal process was no different. It needed a modern transformation to give that digital experience that today’s consumer demands. According to a survey from Deloitte, businesses that focused on creating greater online customer service experienced 60% higher profit than their competitors. Thinking about what 60% higher profits could mean to our agency solidified my decision to invest in a digital solution.
I also wanted to transform this process to relieve some stress from my team. The people at our agency are like family to me. They are an incredibly hardworking group of individuals, so I wanted to invest in a solution that could help make their workday easier and more productive.
The application and renewal process was incredibly time consuming for my team. They had to print multiple applications, fill in what information they had, and send email after email to follow up with customers. Not too long ago, they even had to fax paperwork to a growing population that does not know how to use a fax machine. It was exhausting.
When we sent an application to the customer, it would take about three to four weeks to get that information back. Then, information would some-times be missing, or clients would not be able to get to their computers to print it out. Further, printed applications could be either lost by my team or by the client, prompting the entire process to begin again. It’s fair to say that this was a frustrating process for our team and our clients.
Digitizing our application and renewal process immediately resulted in time savings. By using a portal that both my team member and client can log into, questions from the application and other forms are filled out once, then the data auto maps through all the documents, eliminating the need to answer the same question multiple times. Answers provided in previous years carry over to the next year during renewals as well, saving my team from hunting for information or manually inputting the data. It’s just a push of the “renew” button and it’s ready to be sent out.
Additionally, the team sets a timer in the system to send an automatic follow-up email, easily tracking the number of follow-ups. We are now receiving the filled-out application within a couple of days with a much happier customer.
Last, the electronic signatures function eliminated the need for the client to either download, scan, print, email, or mail the forms to our team. Its seamless integration makes the signing process much easier for everyone involved.
My team sees how this digitized process positively affects our customers, alleviating the time spent filling out form after form and allowing them to quickly get the coverage they need.
Studies show that 52% of consumers are willing to switch insurance providers for greater online service.
For agencies considering digitizing their application and renewal process, take a hard look at the amount of time your staff is spending putting together applications and working with clients to complete them.
Instead of me talking about how much our customers like it, I’d like to let Grant, one of our clients, speak for himself: Let’s be honest, insurance can already be confusing and difficult to understand. Add time-consuming, manual paperwork and it’s not the best experience for customers like me. Before Post Insurance digitized the application process, it would take days or weeks to get my policy. It took even more time to stop and print multiple forms just to scan and send them back to the team.
Everything is so instant now. Services like Amazon Prime and Turbo Tax prove that businesses can provide digital, quick experiences. The insurance industry should be the same. When Post Insurance transformed its application and renewal process, it showed that they could create that seamless experience that I and other insurance consumers expect nowadays.
Like most people these days, I spend a lot of my time working on the computer, so transitioning to this online process makes more sense. Answering a question once and having it automatically carry over to the additional applications reduces the amount of time it took me to fill out the forms. It also cut down on the back-and-forth emails and calls for areas that I may have missed, making the process much easier and quicker.
Also, having my information saved in an online portal to update yearly is more in line with other businesses I use. It helps that I am allowed to fill out the answers whenever it’s convenient for me, and that the portal saves it in case I can’t fill out everything at once.
For me, insurance is more of an afterthought. I am focused on my business and performing my job. Having forms easily accessible and filling in answers when I can has given me time to focus on growing my business.
As the president of Post Insurance, I’m focused on staying current with the times so we can deliver the experiences customers expect. Changing consumer preferences drives our need to digitally transform. The team agrees that if we did not digitize this time-consuming process, it would have cost us current and prospective clients.
For agencies considering digitizing their application and renewal process, take a hard look at the amount of time your staff is spending putting together applications and working with clients to complete them. Then, consider how automation can relieve those manual tasks, giving more time to your staff to sell more policies and elevating your agency’s role as today’s trusted advisor.
Dan Post is the president of Post Insurance Services, Inc., located in Torrance, California. Post Insurance Services, Inc., was founded in 1954 by Dan’s father, James Armstrong Post. In 1980, after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA, Dan began his insurance career. Since then, Post Insurance Services, Inc., has grown into one of the largest independently owned insurance agencies in the region. In addition to agency management, Dan’s primary areas of insurance expertise are in construction, manufacturing and high-net-worth risks. Dan has earned his Certified Insurance Counselor and Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist designations. He is now a CIC Emeritus.