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The insurance industry continues to adopt emerging technology, driven by changing customer trends and an increase in interactions across digital channels. However, there’s an additional element that’s making digital transformation essential for success — a rising consolidation of firms.
In 2021 there were 1,034 announced insurance agency mergers and acquisitions (M&A), up 30% from the 795 reported in 2020, according to agency consultancy OPTIS Partners.
And Deloitte has forecasted that M&A activity in the insurance sector shows no signs of slowing for the remainder of 2022.
As larger insurance agencies continue to acquire additional smaller brokers and expand into new geographical markets, they’re faced with a patchwork of disparate customer accounts and an ever-increasing amount of data. However, without the right technological solutions to align their internal processes, data, and outreach, the customer experience these firms provide can be disjointed, inefficient, and frustrating.
Insurance agencies win and retain customers by providing high levels of trust and personalized service. To keep customers as they continue to grow, they need to invest in the right technology. This is where customer relationship management software can help.
What Is CRM Software and How Has It Evolved?
Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps companies store data about customers and automate menial tasks like lead capturing, workflow management, activity tracking, and data entry.
With a CRM platform, companies can better organize data, manage accounts, and personalize interactions to build relationships with customers and prospects. CRMs aren’t new technology — the term was popularized in the 1980s — but modern platforms can take advantage of newer capabilities such as AI, ML, IoT, Big Data analytics, and integration with other applications.
Current Challenges Facing Insurance Agents and Agencies
Of the many challenges facing the insurance industry, there are a few directly related to improving the customer experience.
- Every M&A comes with consolidating large amounts of customer data and related assets, including different tools, systems, divisions, people, and processes. Complicating matters, acquiring these assets may not come with the underlying infrastructure necessary to take advantage of everything the new data can provide. This influx can easily lead to errors, oversights, discrepancies, and an overall inconsistent brand experience for new customers.
- Local offices, individual agents, and brokers increasingly need to be able to offer customized offerings to their customers to compete with other agencies. Customers’ unique insurance needs are based on various factors, including region, demographics, history, and environment. Agencies also need to account for new technologies that allow for greater levels of personalization, such as using telematics to adjust rates based on usage.
- Customers increasingly want convenient, digital communication experiences. They have little patience for waiting on hold during calls or being unable to get through to a broker. As a result, agencies need to be able to connect with customers across multiple digital channels such as chat, email, and applications. Brokers and agents also need to be able to easily access customer data from a centralized database to keep customer service consistent and efficient.
How Insurance CRM Software Can Address These Challenges
If agencies want to keep pace with evolving customer demand, increased personalization capabilities, and the complications brought on by growth, they need to invest in mature, scalable technological solutions. According to Forrester’s 2021 Analytics Business Technographics Business and Technology Services Survey, 36% of decision makers within the insurance industry “place adding digital capabilities to their existing products and services in their top five initiatives to advance their digital transformation.”
Agencies need to employ software that can integrate across a larger ecosystem of multiple applications, including:
- Insurance rating and quoting applications like Semsee and Tarmika
- Customer service programs such as Zoho Desk and Microsoft’s Digital Contact Center Platform
- CRM platforms including CompanyHub and Microsoft Dynamics 365
Creating this environment, plus the training and service to support it, are the only ways modern agencies can offer their existing and prospective customers a seamless experience in purchasing policies, filing claims, and requesting support across multiple channels.
CRM systems are critical tools for offering customers a seamless omnichannel experience, including self-service options, without interruption in service. Here’s why.
How Insurance CRM Systems Improve the Customer Experience
Out of the 250 key success factors identified by IBISWorld’s 2021 industry report for Finance and Insurance in the US, two of the top five success factors were the automation of information and telecommunications technology and the development of well-developed internal processes. A Forrester report on The Top Emerging Technology Investments in Insurance in 2022 found that personalization technologies and intelligent automation were “hot” technologies that directly enabled insurers’ top priorities. Automation, internal processes, and customer personalization are all key features of CRM platforms.
Insurance CRM solutions are essential for combining different customer-related applications and allowing for the automation of manual tasks, freeing up time to work on more customer-facing tasks. Furthermore, as an integrated solution, CRMs make it easier and faster for all stakeholders to develop a 360-degree view of their customers and address their individual needs. In fact, according to Capgemini’s 2021 World Insurance Report, 56% of agents and brokers who use digital CRM tools with a 360-degree view of customers find it effective in providing a superior customer experience.
The major benefits of insurance CRM software include:
- Better connecting agents and brokers with appropriate leads for higher chances of sales conversion. APIs and AI-powered analytics can help agents and brokers understand customer preferences, answer their questions, and provide insights about a customer’s issues or concerns.
- Breaking down data silos by orchestrating data flow between different internal systems and third-party applications. This enhances collaboration between teams and departments. In addition, providing instant access to the most up-to-date information in real-time allows for faster service and greater convenience for customers.
- An enhanced customer service powered by advanced analytics, which generates granular insights into individual customers, claims history, and the status of policies. These insights can be displayed through data visualization to produce reports that are easily understood at a glance.
- Automatically segment customers into groups based on defined metrics to increase the quality of personalized service. In addition, customer onboarding and acquisition are made easier thanks to intelligent chatbots that can proactively pre-qualify sales leads and provide quotes through conversations.
- Providing additional data and insights about a customer’s history to better inform decision-making, helping agents to proactively cross-sell and upsell products timed around a policyholder’s life events or unique circumstances.
- Support for mobile connections and features that allow agents and brokers to stay connected even when on the road.
- Eliminating menial tasks and optimizing operations through robotic process automation (RPA), AI, and machine learning capabilities. Modern platforms also include scalable storage capabilities to better accommodate an organization’s growing data storage needs.
Insurance CRM systems are powerful tools for getting customers the solutions and services they need when they need them — and agents and brokers know it. Capgemini’s 2021 World Insurance Report shows that 56% of polled insurance agents and brokers stated that a digital CRM with a 360-degree view of customers is a helpful solution for providing a superior customer experience. However, only 61% of insurers provided the necessary digital customer relationship to support their agents/brokers.
If your agency intends to improve customer personalization, service, and communication, then a CRM solution should be high on your priority list to support your agents and brokers. Its key point is best summarized by a recent Deloitte article:
“Upgrading to more holistic data management systems, empowering teams to collaborate across functions, and moving beyond basic risk and cost reduction goals could help insurers capitalize on their data and analytics initiatives to accelerate innovation, bolster competitive differentiation, and ultimately sustain profitable growth.”
Enable Your Agency’s CRM Solution With Hitachi Solutions
No matter how big your agency becomes or how many agents and offices are involved, the right CRM system ensures your agents have everything they need to succeed, and every customer is attended to. More than half of the agents and brokers surveyed in Capgemini’s 2021 report said that they need digital collaboration and engagement tools to assist customers effectively.
Designed with the realities of the modern insurance industry in mind, Microsoft Dynamics 365 enables agencies and brokerages to create templatized systems, processes, and records that ensure consistent company branding, while still providing local field offices, agents, and brokers the flexibility to customize offerings to their customer base.
However, correctly implementing a CRM solution is more than just enabling agent portals or the ability to file digital claims. If you intend to support your growth and drive revenue, then your agency’s processes, governance models, and metrics need to be more customer-focused, collaborative, and efficient.
Engage for Insurance is our all-in-one solution designed to address the front-end and back-office needs of modern insurance companies. Built on the Microsoft cloud, Engage for Insurance provides much-needed visibility into agency performance and powerful tools to help drive more profitable relationships.
To learn more about how we can help your agency continue its digital transformation contact Hitachi Solutions today.