There used to be a time when everything was analog pen and paper, rotary phones, and cable-driven machinery. Those days are, of course, long gone. And yet, the insurance industry seems to have missed the memo.

Digital technologies have changed the way consumers behave. Theyre less open to swallowing advice from insurance agents wholesale. Instead, they want to do their own research and investigation. Theyre more cost-conscious. And, they have the means to get the information they want.

Forget operational excellence. Thats never been the way to maintain a competitive advantage in the industry. Not over the long-term, anyway.

What you should do instead is focus on ways to improve customer relationships through a more tailored, personal approach, enabled by smarter tools and a more strategic approach to customer management. Thats what will give your brokerage an edge over the competition. But, its an elusive ideal because its a strategy you cannot control directly.

Its unnerving to some brokers and agents because theyre used to being the information gatekeepers and initiators. They have to get used to the idea that, from a customers point of view, its not about giving lip service to great customer service. In fact, since everyone promises great customer service, the phrase has totally lost its meaning.

Brokerages need real innovation. In fact, its becoming continuously clearer that if youre not running a digitally-driven insurance brokerage, youre beginning to lose relevance. However, its not too late to gain it back.

Heres how:

Get Inside Your Customers Head with Next-Gen Insurtech

Connected devices, like smartphones, smart T.V.s, smart refrigerators, and vehicle sensors can help you connect with your customers throughout their normal daily lives. They offer unusually keen insight into how your clients act outside of scheduled doctors visits or when they are late for work in the morning.

Imagine your customer has a perfect driving record thus far, but their in-vehicle sensor tells the insurance company that they regularly speed or weave in and out of traffic on their morning commute. They havent been in an accident, yet. But, clearly, they represent a higher than normal risk.

Or, consider a toothbrush sensor that can detect early signs of cavities and advise users to go see their dentist immediately, instead of waiting for their next scheduled appointment. The individual could save themselves expensive dental work by solving the problem before it gets even worse.

Connected devices also improve information symmetry between the dentist and the patient. More people might decide to go to their dentist if they knew exactly why they should go and what to expect.

The same principles and potential hold true for any number of applications, across virtually every industry. On the insurance side of things, this sort of capability is delivered through next-gen insurtech. In practice, this means a lower cost for the insurance company, a smaller claim, and of course negligible impact on the insured when the policy renews.

Move from Push to Pull

The old way of making sales involved agents pushing information onto the consumer. The sales agent would lead the conversation and hold a virtual monopoly over information the customer needed to make a decision.

They also made sales by applying pressure using fear, which has traditionally been a driving factor behind most insurance sales. But, consumers are smarter today. Theyre still looking for ways to reduce financial risks in their lives, but they wont be pushed into a sale. Agents who try to scare them into something will only scare them away.

Instead of being that salesperson, agents need to reorient and become a trusted advisor  someone the client looks forward to speaking with and appreciates. Agents also need to engage with customers at the exact moment when they need their help.

Using next-gen insurtech including a cloud-based, smart management platform is the best way to do this because it allows the agent to take advantage of advanced data analytics. Platforms, like Novidea, offer integrated data analytics, including real-time data, delivered via the cloud so its available on any device the agent would want to use.

And how exactly does this help the consumer?

Well, lets say that an agent knows Mr. Client needs a policy upgrade based on data he has previously collected on him. The cloud-based platform allows the agent to meet up with the client at his home, office, or even at a restaurant with tablet in hand. Data can be accessed right there on the agents iPad, for example, and the deal can be closed on the spot.

Bring a Human Touch to Your Customer Interactions

Most people sigh and roll their eyes at insurance agents because they represent the stereotypical pushy salesperson. And, most agents fit the role beautifully whether they realize it or not.

This, combined with easily accessible and DIY-friendly information and quoting systems online, would make you think customers dont really need or want agents anymore. But thats not true. What they want is the personal touch. And you can give that to them by humanizing your interactions with them, instead of making them feel like they are interacting with a robot that is only concerned with making more sales.

If you have a good digital management system thats smart enough to clue you in to what your customers want, when they want it, youll be able to leverage it to create more personal connections with your clients.

For example, a quality digital management system can integrate with many different programs on your computer, even Microsoft Outlook, where all your client correspondence happens. When your client mentions his wife is pregnant in an email, the system will store that valuable data and remind you to congratulate him in 9 months. The client feels appreciated, and you even have an opportunity to meet his new need for buying life insurance, exactly at the right moment.

Where To Go From Here

The old way of selling insurance is dwindling. The key to moving forward and maintaining a competitive advantage in the industry is by implementing customer engagement innovation and finding new ways to put the client first. Intelligent digital platforms can help you get a leg up by providing the tools you need to connect with your customers in the way that they want.

Transform your insurance agents into trusted consultants by contacting Novidea today >>