The insurance agency has people who sell policies, and those who service customers. The latter, called CSRs or CSAs, are the backbone of the business. As we know them, CSRs or CSAs are dead men and women walking. The traditional agency customer service person has no long-term future.
The traditional tasks of providing transaction oriented service to customers like policy changes, endorsements, certificates, claim reporting, and the like, can now be faster, more convenient, and far cheaper by insurance company service centers. Consider that service centers can react to customer needs 24/7/365, are never sick or on vacation, never on break, tied up on the phone and speak whatever language the customer prefers, among other advantages. They have no reluctance to ask for additional business, and have made a science of account rounding. And they do it very cheaply. Service centers cost agencies about 13% of revenue, compared to about 25% of revenue, for an agency service employee.
If that isn’t convincing enough, please click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khr-eWGhTSI to see the CSA of the very near future. Using computer generated graphics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning “digital humans” can now perform all the tasks of a CSA in an almost indistinguishable way for a human being. Who needs to pay for office space or manage the issues of human service employees? Who needs a call center full of telephone operators for that matter? By 2020, you can have your service people loaded on your laptop.
This is truly amazing. But, it isn’t the future, it’s now. These robots can handle complexity far beyond what is required by agency service people. You can read more about that in a recent “FastCompany” article.
Insurance agency owners may not be the most forward-thinking people, but they already get it. According to most respondents, to this Safeco’s survey on the future agent, the role of CSR and Producer are merging (read about it here). That’s because it’s obvious that service will continue to be automated, and the role of agents and agencies will be focused to an increasingly high degree on sales going forward.
This does not mean these valuable people will all be wasted, only that their role’s, and their daily work must change. They must become proactive nurturers of relationships, instead of processors of transactions. They must master cross selling to deepen relationships, and they must be competent creators of new business. I believe those talented, skilled, and experienced people, who make the transition to new roles, have an even bigger future.
Those that do not, will need to begin to think about a career somewhere else.