3 Reasons Agents Should Be Digital-First

Agency Operations, Marketing, Personal Lines, Small Commercial Lines, Talent and Culture, Technology

In the last few years, there has been an uptick in the number of customers researching and shopping for insurance online.

In the post-COVID-era, that shift to digital will only accelerate.

With many business storefronts closed for several months earlier this year, ecommerce grew exponentially. And as customers interact with more businesses online, they’ve come to expect easy, frictionless experiences.

Insurance companies and brokers need to recognize and prioritize customers’ desire for digital through our resourcing and decision-making. Far from just viewing digital as an occasionally helpful tool, we need to be “digital-first,” focusing on digital as a key part of how we operate and serve customers.

After all, that is what customers want and expect from us. Being digital-first is really about being customer-first. But it also can help agents grow their businesses, streamline operations, and serve customers more effectively.

Here are just a few reasons to adopt a digital-first approach.

1. Being digital-first drives growth

Agents for the future are growth-focused. They understand that their value is in offering consultative guidance and their time is best spent prospecting. The original Agent for the Future survey found that agents want to spend more of their time prospecting and quoting new business and less of their time retaining existing clients and responding to service needs.

To that end, agent investments in digital should be around driving growth and improving their own productivity. Tools such as a good agency management system, a search-engine-optimized website and self-service tools can increase efficiency and drive qualified leads.

By streamlining internal operations, digital tools free up valuable time that agents can use for prospecting and proactively building strong relationships with clients.

2. Being digital-first streamlines the customer experience

At Liberty Mutual and Safeco, we know that customers have high expectations for all their digital interactions with our company.

In taking a digital-first approach, we’ve aimed for radical simplification vs. incremental improvement. We aim to keep our digital experiences completely frictionless and as close to one step as possible.

We know that if we want our customers to be primarily digital, we need to hold ourselves accountable to a high bar. We want our digital experiences to be so simple that customers can find all the information they need and complete their interaction online without having to call us.

While a “one-step” process won’t work in all areas, agents can use digital to offer easy self-service options and build a consistently excellent experience for clients.

3. Being digital-first makes it easier to offer customers the customization they want

Insurance is complicated and important. Consumers see insurance as a black box. They are concerned about overpaying or being under-covered – or both.

Every customer has unique needs, and they want those needs recognized and catered to. They don’t want an off-the-shelf solution, because they don’t want loopholes with too little coverage, and they also don’t want to overpay for things they don’t need.

Customizing insurance to a client’s needs is one of the top value propositions of anyone who sells insurance. Customization is one of our main marketing messages for Liberty Mutual.

But when my team unpacked the word “customization” in marketing, one of the dimensions we looked into was who was actually doing the customizing. In other words, does the consumer want to customize themselves? Or do they want us (reps and agents) to do the customizing for them?

The answer is the latter. Insurance is not like a build-your-own pizza, where it’s simple and fun to customize. Customers want solutions that fit them, but they don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy figuring out exactly what those solutions are. They want customization in a way that’s not a heavy lift for them.

Digital tools allow agents to leverage customer data to identify a customer’s unique needs and customize solutions that fit them.

In these and many other areas, taking a digital-first approach will help agents win more customers, meet the changing needs of clients and operate their agencies more efficiently. Investing in digital tools now will help agents successfully adapt to continue winning into the future.

Emily Fink

Former Chief Digital Officer, Liberty Mutual Insurance

Emily Fink is Liberty Mutual’s former Chief Digital Officer and former Chief Marketing Officer.

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3 years ago

Excelente propuesta, y lo digo con certeza. Durante más de 40 años he vendido seguros de forma presencial “cara a cara” y en este momento, en que a los adultos mayores se les restringe el desplazamiento, me veo obligado a “mudarme” a “Modo virtual” y de eso nada sé. Pasar de Block y lápiz a Virtual, un gran reto. Lástima que esa informaciòn, sólo está en Inglés; ¿es posible tenerla en Español?

3 years ago

Si copias y lo pones en Google translate vas ha poder leer bastante bein que trata este articulo. Esta muy bien redactado en ingles y google translate es bastante Bueno. Espero que si lo pongan en Espanol Tambien. El articulo no da instrucciones como pasarse a virtual, mas bien explica los beneficios de hacerlo.

Michael Singh
3 years ago

I am definitely on board and agree with this. Besides the SEO, self service options and a good agency management system, what other tools/technologies are reccomended?

Dargan Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Singh

Hey Michael! Great question. Check out these articles from earlier in our series for some more recommendations: https://www.agentforthefuture.com/quick-guide-to-getting-digital/ https://www.agentforthefuture.com/creating-your-agencys-digital-office/
Our Agency Capabilities and Programs team also made a helpful video and list of tech vendors that are popular with agents: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/video-guide-how-keep-your-business-running-when-its-usual-steinke/

Tom Mckee
3 years ago

I appreciate the focus on being Digital. What is Liberty Mutual doing to modernize the support for Digital Agencies? One of the biggest constraints is the computing and integration infrastructure. This architecture relies on IVANS to get information to Agencies about policies. The data is received in batch, is many times outdated, and is inconsistent from carrier to carrier. Information about quotes come from a rater or an online quote, and underwriting approval for many risks is manual and unresponsive. AMS, IVANS, Raters, Websites, and ACORD are based on 20 year old technology and standards that are falling apart or… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Mckee
Lawson Davis
3 years ago

Emily, this was very helpful and interesting to read. Will look forward to reading more from you.

3 years ago

Been searching for customer service tools that they can utilize themselves versus calling in our agencies for ID cards and dec pages; Do you recommend a company or a program that I can look into?

Dargan Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jared

Hi Jared, thanks for your question. Our Agency Capabilities and Programs team put together a helpful list of vendor options that might be helpful: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/video-guide-how-keep-your-business-running-when-its-usual-steinke/

3 years ago

Carriers do not provide agents, include highly digital first agents with the technology they need to actually sell in the modern worlds. It’s unreasonable how they still expect agents to close business via telephone and do not have links that we can send for an applicant to purchase. Forget a buy online link to post on a website, how about just giving us the option to send a prospect a quote with a link to purchase. The carries themselves have them, so we can’t we?

Agent for the Future™