Insurance Agents Can Weather Radical Change by Becoming 'Discussion Partners' to Their Clients.

Author:Korsgaden, Troy

* Today the insurance industry is going through a revolution and too many carriers, brokers, agents and team members are failing to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

Customers have grown accustomed to convenience, a plethora of information and unending choices in whatever they buy, and this applies to the purchase of insurance products and services, too. People expect it to be easy, efficient and understandable.

The insurance industry as a whole is miles behind in the race to deliver unrivaled service to customers. To keep up with the radical transformation, insurance professionals must earn the trust of existing clients and new prospects and become their gateway to everything related to insurance and financial services.

The path to this transformation is for the insurance agent or representative to become a "discussion partner"--a trusted advisor who guides customers toward optimum financial decisions by offering them every possible insurance and financial services product while disclosing exactly how his or her superior advice works.

The goal is to convert everyone into discussion partner clients who do not want to be sold or told; rather, they want a consultant who will advise them on the best products, protection and asset-accumulation guidance they need for their families.

Looking closely at the not-too-distant future, here are just a few ways the insurance industry will evolve:

* There will be total transparency about coverages and pricing. Customers will know all the details when they purchase property and casualty products, financial services products, life insurance products and more, in much the same way financial services and securities are sold today.

* There will be a convergence of distribution models. Local storefronts will welcome the use of the omni-channel experience, such as digital, after-hours 800-number call centers; claims service; and 24-hour customer self-service through technology or telephony.

* Technology will streamline processes. The local storefront housing brokers/agents and their teams will still provide service and sales at the point of personal interaction, but they will also leverage the power of digital technology and call centers.

* Collaboration will become commonplace. Open architecture--a financial institution's ability to offer clients both proprietary and external products and services--in both technology and service will force the insurance industry not only to adapt, but also to move quickly...

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