Like many other occupations, it’s easy for financial professionals to get bogged down in the daily grind, especially at the end of the year. In the quest to hit sales targets, it seems the need to provide a valuable service to one’s customers can fall by the wayside. Digital tools and technology are supposed to help make connections easier, but in many cases the picture is not as rosy.
A report from Accenture remarked on the importance of deepening relationships between financial professionals and the clients they serve. According to researchers, the entire insurance industry would benefit from taking small steps to embrace new methods of connecting with current and potential clients, not only enhancing the value of their particular brand, but also in the interest of creating a more meaningful work environment.
To conduct the study, Accenture surveyed 414 financial professionals in both the property-casualty and life insurance sectors. These professionals came from all over the world, and represent a diverse range of ideas and viewpoints. However, despite the diversity of backgrounds, the respondents generally came to the same conclusions: The insurance industry needs to embrace change if it wants to realize long-term growth.
As InsuranceNewsNet noted, the insurance industry is at something of a crossroads. A sluggish global economy has led to lower-than-expected growth in premiums as of late. This stems not only from low interest gleaned from investments, but a lack of interest from cash-strapped consumers as well. New government regulations also threaten to cause disruption throughout the industry. The ways in which insurers have responded to these pressures varies, but Accenture is of the opinion that industry leaders need to make a concerted effort to adapt.
“Insurers need to confront this rapidly evolving marketplace,” the Accenture report said. “Their decisions about how to engage customers in the digital age will impact the kind of businesses they will be and the kind of customer experiences they will provide.”
Insurers embrace digital
One of the most fundamental shifts the insurance industry is currently undergoing is the move from a product-focused sales model to one that is based more on the needs of customers. According to Accenture, 59 percent of respondents said they are moving quickly to adopt a business model that relies on data-driven customer insights. Data analytics is a hot topic throughout the business world, and insurance sales is no exception. With the ability to gather large amounts of customer data, insurers who can quickly parse and make sense of it will come out on top.
Accenture noted that new compensation and bonus strategies are being developed to encourage quality sales among financial professionals. This will primarily take the form of rewarding employees who make meaningful connections with clients, rather than simply selling them on a policy. An impressive 53 percent of respondents said they were closely analyzing their existing incentives and bonuses to place more emphasis on client retention and constant contact.
Much of this change of focus will depend on insurers’ ability to successfully implement the latest in digital technology. According to Accenture, most insurance sales will be conducted in a completely digital manner within just a few years. This may seem antithetical to the need for higher quality relationships between financial professionals and clients, but in reality, the two goals may go hand in hand. Insurance agencies are now using predictive analytics to calculate the best methods to boost sales and revenue. Keeping in touch via social media, video chats or other new communication methods may also be key to building a client base.
These changes are nothing new for the insurance industry, but if this report is any indication, the time to evolve is now.