The rapid technological evolution of the insurance industry will require independent agents to turbocharge their adoption of digital tools in 2019. Consumers have become accustomed to the convenience afforded by artificial intelligence (AI) when it comes to completing day-to-day transactions. Voice assistants allow people to ditch the keyboard and conduct searches by talking to devices. Chatbots enable customers to have personalized interactions tailored to fit their needs. This is the world in which agents are operating, and, to grow, they will have to leap forward and implement more of these technologies into their current offerings.
Here are five predictions that will have a big impact on agencies’ abilities to compete and grow in 2019:
1. Voice search will become more common for insurance.
The rapid adoption of smart devices powered by manufacturers like Google and Amazon are compelling consumers to speak to robots about their needs from their homes and offices and on the go. Insurance is no exception. Predictions indicate half of all searches will be conducted through voice-assisted technology in the near future. As more carriers index their local agents to work with voice services like Alexa and Siri, agencies must ensure that their websites and digital assets respond to advances in voice search. Content strategies will expand beyond conventional keyword campaigns and target phrases to sentences that mimic natural language used between two humans in conversation.
See also: Insurtech: Revolution, Evolution or Hype?
2. Insurance agent bots will be humanized to create authentic interactions.
Insurance agencies must adopt technology solutions that move their client-focused insurance buying experiences to the online environment. With deep knowledge and expertise in developing personal connections with their customers, agents have the advantage over insurtechs that are limited to simple mono-line customer interactions. Through customizable communication enablers, including chatbots and smart forms driven by automation and artificial intelligence, agents will elevate the emotional intelligence of their websites, social media and emails to speak to the consumer authentically.
3. Google mobile first represents an important frontier for insurance products.
Google mobile-first indexing was formally launched in March 2018 and reinforced in September, which means websites will be indexed and ranked based on the mobile version of their content. Although desktops historically led the way for consumers to research and find products and services that met their needs, it is more critical than ever that agents have mobile responsive sites to not only grow but also maintain the highly coveted search engine real estate that they have worked for years to establish.
4. Texting will increasingly be used to connect with customers.
The rise of mobile users will have an effect on how agents communicate. Texting is a critical line of communication with millennials and will be the preferred method of contact for the next generation of insurance customers. For better effectiveness, texting tools are expected to be integrated with existing email and CRM systems, and innovations in rich communication services (RCS) promise to deliver better app integration, secure transactions and branding for businesses to text.
5. New micro-experiences will become the building blocks for digital expansion.
Agencies are differentiated by the niche markets they sell to and service better than their competitors. Investments in digital content campaigns and user interfaces that cater to specialized prospect and customer segments will rise in 2019. These micro-experiences will enable agencies to have access to a market with carriers, as well as the ability to quote, bind and service insurance online. Micro-experiences will typically focus on commercial lines and specialty insurance for niche markets, such as programs for craft breweries, energy contractors, concrete pumping or marijuana dispensaries, to name a few, and they will offer new opportunities for agencies to expand quickly with digital building blocks that can be easily integrated into existing business and workflows.
See also: Digital Survival Tools for Agents
2019 will be the year where agents take significant technological leaps – from responsive mobile websites and texting with customers to humanized chatbots and the ability to search for products using voice commands. Agents will look for solutions that allow for the sharing of customer data, requiring platforms to become more open and work together to better them. The New Year will be the start of the next era of independent agents characterized by openness to new digital tools and rapid adoption of the latest technologies