By Matt Simon
MOVING AWAY FROM DESKTOP DEPENDENCY
How agencies can use mobile to meet customer expectations
Technology in our space is finally catching up with consumer demand and expectations—and that’s exciting. Our goal as agencies and brokerages should be to achieve full capability to do anything transactional (vehicle changes, driver changes, paying a bill, filing a claim, etc.) via mobile technology. As vice president of Hill & Hamilton, I have overseen the implementation of Applied Mobile and CSR24, which is helping our agency achieve this goal.
Out of the office
Our team primarily uses Applied Mobile for the opportunities piece of Applied Epic. One of the biggest benefits of our transition from Applied TAM to Epic was the opportunities section, which syncs with Applied Mobile. That was huge because our producers are responsible for developing opportunities and inputting basic information into Epic to produce a commercial application before that information is turned over to an account manager to market it to our carriers.
Being able to offer an answer quickly provides a more robust client experience, which helps improve retention.
Prior to the implementation of this new mobile technology, producers had to be in the office. The lack of adequate technology solutions forced them to spend a disproportionate amount of their time at a desk. They would go out and develop relationships, but there wasn’t a solution that allowed them to be out of the office more than they were in the office. To keep the process moving, they had to get back into the office, sit in front of the computer, input all the information, input the opportunity into the agency management system, and produce the application before they could hand it over to an account manager. Being able to get basic information that is specific to each opportunity into our system via mobile enables them to spend more time outside of the office developing relationships.
Mobile has helped move us away from that desktop dependency and bring us closer to an ideal world where producers don’t need to spend any time in the office. Right now, the producers who are leveraging the technology most effectively have freed up about 40% of the time they had previously spent in the office. Now they can be out developing relationships with new clients as well as strengthening relationships with existing clients.
On the client side, we have the CSR24 client portal on our website and a client-facing, branded mobile app. While mobile bill pay is still on the horizon, we are already hearing success stories from clients who are taking advantage of our mobile offerings, particularly from those who are shopping for a car on a weekend without their physical ID card with them. Despite our office being closed, one client was able to pull up her mobile app and show the ID card to the dealership, and that was as good as the physical one. Our technology made the car shopping experience a completely seamless process for the client, and she emailed us on Monday morning to tell us how satisfied she was.
While we have not yet pushed the mobile app out to our broader client base—because we want to ensure first that our associates are comfortable getting clients set up and understanding the capabilities of the mobile technology—the response so far has been positive. When we rolled it out, the response was, “Wow, I never really expected that I could do that.” And, once they had access to the technology, the response was, “Why didn’t I have this all along?”
Technology vs. the human touch
The ideal solution would allow clients to perform transactional-based tasks, like changing a vehicle, changing a driver, filing a claim, or paying bills, without a human having to get involved. We are finding that many clients, especially those of the Millennial generation, don’t want to deal with a human whenever these issues arise. Our approach is not to force clients down this path but simply to provide the option if that’s their preference.
Clients don’t always prefer a technology solution. If a claim is complex or a process isn’t straightforward, many clients want to talk to somebody. That’s where we agents and brokers have an advantage, and we should leverage it. We shouldn’t say that the client’s relationship with insurance must be 100% technology-driven or 100% human-driven, as that completely alienates a large segment of the population that wants a blend of both. For our team, it’s important that we let clients know that the technology is available when it’s convenient for them, but a human is available when technology alone isn’t capable of handling their needs. I’ve received questions from other agencies and brokerages about how we get clients to adopt technology. Our mentality is more about giving clients who want this technology the ability to use and leverage it.
Although most of the benefits we have reaped from technology are on the producer side, I encourage agencies and brokerages to look beyond the efficiencies of a technology and consider the actual client experience that you deliver by leveraging it. For example, I receive a lot of questions and emails over the weekend. Having access to that information on my phone, anytime, anywhere, allows me to answer those questions and continue to serve our clients. Being able to offer an answer quickly provides a more robust client experience, which helps improve retention.
Implementation and integration tips
- To implement mobile technology and integrate it smoothly into agency or brokerage operations, I recommend:
- Identify early adopters. (It’s not difficult; they’re usually the ones who are already asking for this kind of solution, or breaking into a cold sweat if they’re away from their phone for two minutes.)
- Get early adopters excited about the vision, the opportunity, and how much easier mobile technology will make their day-to-day operations.
- Publicize early wins to your entire organization, making obvious the correlation between the technology and how it helped (better/faster, etc.).
- Keep in mind that producers are competitive—they don’t want anyone to have an advantage over them, especially if it’s technology they have access to but aren’t using.
You can basically run your agency on mobile technology.
I’m not suggesting that anybody do this, as it would be cumbersome to click through iPhone screens vs. being in front of a computer. My point is that the power and the capability of mobile is extensive, and we should leverage these opportunities wherever we can.
Matt Simon is vice president of Hill & Hamilton Insurance and Financial Services in Bellefontaine, Ohio.