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We are living in an era where the customers expect fully digital experiences. In the insurance industry, a network of brokers and agents play a pivotal role in providing customers with much-needed personal attention. The brokers and agents not only help the insurers generate sales but also help them build long-term relationships with customers and foster brand loyalty.
Since the brokers and agents are an insurance carrier’s touchpoints with the customers, empowering them with cutting-edge digital tools becomes imperative. Broker/agent portals have existed for many years now, evolving over the years from being static to self-service information-based platforms. Broker portals allow the brokers/agents to login and access their customers’ product portfolios and transactional data related to commissions, paybacks, etc.
Although the existing broker portals serve as excellent platforms for enabling the brokers/agents to carry out on-the-spot transactions, the insurance carriers need to transform their broker portals from being operational-centric to being more unified, contextual, and broker-centric.
Some of the inherent challenges that the brokers and agents face with the existing systems today include:
- Access to Systems: It is cumbersome for the brokers to login into different systems to access content and data spread across different silos.
- Lack of Integration: Due to the lack of integration of content, the brokers have to extract and unify the content to make sense of it.
- Broker Productivity: Lack of access to a system that can enable the brokers to assign, prioritise and track tasks seamlessly. Absence of artefacts that can help the brokers/agents upsell/cross-sell products and sustain client relationships.
- Non-Collaborative: The absence of centralised collaboration system means that the insurance carrier and the broker can collaborate only through email.
- Lack of Context: The broker has to put in extra effort to find information about a customer product, task, etc.
- Absence of Multi-Device Access: Brokers don’t have the flexibility to access the systems through devices such as tablets and smartphones as in most cases, the systems and interfaces are desktop-based.
- Transaction-Centric: Most broker portals are transaction-centric and don’t provide features that can help improve decision-making during transactions.
There is a definite need for a more unified portal that moves away from being just a self-service based platform to a more dynamic, one-stop-shop for the brokers to improve their customer interactions. It should have a user-centric (in this case, the broker) approach, and enable them with the right contextual information.
The unified portal will empower the broker community with a 360-degree view of the customer, process, market etc. enabling them to deliver better value to the overall insurance value chain. This significant shift from transaction-centric to user-centric will mean:
- The broker gets quick access to the right and relevant information, whether transactional or customer-specific.
- Since it is contextual, it allows the broker to make informed decisions by offering recommendations.
- Brokers can get a consolidated view of the content, data, and information spread across multiple back-ends on a single dashboard.
- Brokers get access to the latest news, industry updates and competitor analysis from the internet.
- Provision to record the information captured by the broker on the portal, to allow others to benefit from their experience, from a sales and management point of view.
- The broker gets access to all the information with a single login on the portal.
The Three Steps for Broker Portal Transformation
The transformation of the broker/agent portal has significant bearings on how the back-end delivers the information for the broker consumption—this mandates the development of a strategy, planning the execution before executing the transformation, as follows:
This process involves developing a detailed transformation plan which entails identifying current challenges, technology evaluation, and developing a vision. At the end of this stage, you should have a clear vision and business case for the broker portal transformation.
During this stage, prioritisation of all the activities and modules takes place along with developing phases and finalising the scope. The main aim of the planning stage is to have a detailed roadmap in place which serves as a reference point.
It is the last and final step in which execution of the scheduled activities, deployment, and the final release happens.
As the customer behaviour evolves with the emergence of newer technologies, so will the role of the agent/broker. For insurance carriers, portal transformation is an ongoing process. Insurers must keep a close watch on the current trends to keep their broker portal aligned with the evolving needs of the brokers.