Agents place the bulk of their business with insurance carriers that excel in ease of business.
Many carrier executives talk about the importance of ease of business with agents. Yet our data shows that, for the P/C industry as a whole, meaningful change has been very slow.
This is not surprising. Change is difficult, especially when people lack a true feeling of URGENCY to change. As my uncle, a Midwestern farmer, says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In the short term, this philosophy helps manage cost. However, over time it leads to lack of innovation. Lack of innovation eventually leads to irrelevancy.
In his book The Heart of Change, John Kotter indicates the first step to successful large-scale change is increased urgency. Specifically, he says that urgency occurs when “People start telling each other, ‘Let’s go, we need to change things!”
COVID-19 As a Change Catalyst
For proponents of change who have faced barriers in the past, the pandemic has created a sense of URGENCY within their organizations and amongst their customers. This is our opportunity to seize the moment and lead change. And leaders across industries are doing just that.
IBM recently released an interesting report titled COVID-19 and the future of business.
According to the report, “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation at 59% of surveyed organizations.”
Previous barriers to change have been ripped down. COVID-19 urgently forced executives and their teams to change their operating environment, if only to continue doing what they were doing before.
Time to Prioritize Customer Relationships
This acceleration is a good thing. Innovative digital transformation will strengthen the insurance industry.
However, the IBM report also includes a warning that should be heeded.
“Leaders are expecting more from their transformation initiatives. They identify competitiveness and workforce resilience as the benefits they most want from ongoing digital transformation. Transformation is also accelerating among a majority of organizations. But strikingly, greater focus on transformation seems to be at the expense of customer relationships and partnering opportunities.”
Some companies are so focused on managing internal change that they are losing sight of their customers’ needs, right at a time when customer relationships are more important than ever. Many people are scared, isolated and craving human connection.
The IBM report makes the point that companies must intentionally prioritize customer experience to seize this opportunity for competitive advantage.
“So, everything is important. Everything except improving the customer experience— the one thing that can help drive performance and growth when the competition is lost in the fog.”
Use this time as an opportunity to make needed digital transformation— but with an eye towards improving customer relationships. Insurance companies that focus on improving ease of business for their agents and policyholders will benefit the most from digital transformation. That includes prioritizing how it can benefit our organizations’ human resources, since our people are still the key to making deep customer connections.