In my last blog, I quoted Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, regarding the future. Taking a cue from him, I expressed great optimism in the future of the insurance agency business! And I’m putting my resources behind that belief by investing in brand new insurance agencies: 25 so far this year.
As optimistic as I am, I also strongly believe that agents, and agencies, will need to be much different over the next decade than they are today to survive and thrive. I’ve written here a lot about what I think that looks like (please feel free to use the search feature for blogs on this or other topics). Safeco Insurance Company has recently released a white paper based on their research about what it will take to be successful as an agent in the future. It’s available for download here:
Here are some interesting, and salient, points raised in the report:
– The responsibilities of producers and CSR’s are merging. CSR’s will be less involved in routine servicing and more involved in selling (which implies a different set of skills will be needed).
-CSR’s will need to be able to sell multiple lines of business and answer questions without passing a customer to someone else.
-Agents will need to embrace online account management and self-service (two of the top demands of millennial customers).
-Owners need to learn how to effectively hire and manage millennial employees (58% of all new agency hires are millennials).
-A growth focus will be required. Agencies that define themselves as “service” organizations as compared to “sales” organizations will have more difficulty.
-Agents are embracing technology: 60% use e-sign, 61% provide online quotes and 60% text with clients.
-Technology is critical to hiring millennials (81% say the kind of technology offered by an employer affects their decision making according to a Dell study).
-Agents need to rethink their position on after hours and weekend availability as only 56% of agents plan to offer what customers are demanding.
-17% of the U.S. population are Hispanic and this segment is growing yet only 14% IA’s surveyed by Safeco believed that this growth could have an impact on their business.
There is a lot more and I encourage you to read the full report. More importantly, though, I encourage you to think about how the business and consumer are changing and the strategies you want to employ, in order to continue your success into the future. No agent has to do everything, and none of us has to do it all at once. The key is to pick one area to improve, make it a focus, add it to your business and then pick the next one. What is your first step into the future going to be?