Consumers are leading an e-commerce revolution, fueled by the easy and instantaneous customer experience introduced by companies like Amazon and Apple. One-click purchases, mobile accessibility, and next- or same-day delivery are quickly becoming widespread expectations among consumers.

And if you can’t meet these rising expectations, you’re out of the game.

While it may seem that the tech and retail industries take the brunt of this change, industries like insurance and finance must adapt to the consumer-led digital revolution. But how can you satisfy a “want it now” attitude when it comes to something as complex as insurance underwriting?

It’s a growing concern in the insurance industry. A survey of insurance professionals found 45% believe evolving customer needs and expectations will be a major challenge over the next three years – the top response in the survey.

Delivering a personalized insurance policy will likely never be as easy as one-click buying headphones off Amazon. But there are critical lessons that insurance agents can take from the instant shopping model, lessons that will help them be successful in the digital era.

Lesson #1: Reducing friction increases sales

Sales friction is anything that slows down or gets in the way of a customer saying “yes.” Friction can happen at any time in the sales process, whether it’s a customer not being able to find the appropriate contact information, a webpage being too slow or unresponsive, an untrained salesperson not having the right answer, or complicated payment processes.

For big tech companies like Amazon, creating “zero-friction” experiences has been critical to their tremendous success. Hence, one-click buying, product pages that show the highest-selling products first, and an emphasis on site speed, stability and delivery times.

For insurance agents, the lesson is clear: providing a personalized, convenient customer experience (CX) that minimizes friction is a powerful way to stand out. Research from Forrester has found that “brands with highly rated CX improve revenue at twice the rate of brands with poor experiences.”

Lesson #2: Expand your audience with flexible solutions

Flexibility is a core desire of the modern shopper, and meeting consumers’ on-demand needs has been a major focus among major tech companies and retailers. Consumers now have more ways to shop, buy and contact customer service with features like in-store pickup, free delivery, voice-activated shopping and instant chats with customer support.

Omnichannel interactions are the norm with consumers often switching channels and even devices before making a purchase. The pandemic has accelerated digital interactions even further with early indicators suggesting that much of the shift from in-person interaction to digital engagement may endure long-term.

Insurance agents must be able to meet consumers’ growing demands for flexibility, especially if they are going to attract the largest living generation – Millennials. Agents need to provide the same great service both in person and online. Offerings such as virtual appointments, videoconferencing, e-signatures and e-delivery need to be on the table. Digital delivery will be key to overcoming one of the biggest barriers for buying insurance: consumers’ fear of a complex, protracted process that interferes with their busy schedules.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the “want it now” sentiment extends to customer service as well. If customers have a question or concern, they expect a prompt response or resolution. And if they don’t get it, they might start looking at the competition for better service.

Lesson #3: Privacy remains paramount

While consumers enjoy the conveniences of online shopping, some of their biggest concerns are about their privacy and data protection. Shoppers highly value a safe and secure shopping experience with 84% of consumers saying they may not shop with a retailer that has experienced a data breach. On the flipside, a Salesforce study found 84% of consumers are more loyal to companies with strong security and ethical protocols.

Keeping your clients’ information private is nothing new for insurance agents. But doing so in the digital era is. Major insurers have already been a prime target for data breaches, and new insurance data security laws are being created to better protect clients’ information.

Remember that, while ensuring compliance is critical, it’s also important to inform your clients of how you’re protecting their privacy. Doing so can help build brand trust and loyalty.

The Bottom Line for Insurance Agents

Adapting to the digital landscape is no longer a nice but unnecessary step for insurance agents. You must meet consumers in the digital arena with a high-quality, flexible and secure customer experience, or it will hit your bottom line.

It may seem like navigating insurance sales is more complex than ever. And when can agents find the time to digitize their processes while still meeting clients’ needs and finding new leads? That’s where insurtech plays a pivotal role for insurance agents. New insurtech platforms are designed to streamline processes for advisors and provide customers with the one-click convenience they demand.

With a platform like Link by LegacyShield, for instance, clients each have their own personalized portal that acts as a virtual workspace between the client and advisor. Everything is accessible in one place to view, share, communicate and transact. A simplified, secure digital presence is possible for insurance agents – and will be the key to unlocking new success.

To learn more about how to stay on top of your game as an insurance agent, read our blog, “Staying Ahead of the Curve for Insurance Agents.”

Dan Pierson

Written by Dan Pierson

Dan Pierson is an insurance industry veteran, having run several insurance businesses and eventually selling a nationally recognized life insurance general agency. Dan started LegacyShield to help other insurance advisors grow their practices by focusing on the consumer experience.