The results from the 13th annual Channel Harvest Independent Insurance Agency Survey
Agents are at a crossroads when it comes to the question of the ease of doing business with customers. Should the buying experience through an agent be more personal or more like Amazon? This was one of the major questions posed to nearly 2,000 agency staff in the latest Channel Harvest Research Report. Everyone from principals to producers to CSRs were able to participate in the 100 question survey, conducted between February and April of this year. It is important to note that a majority of the responses to this year’s Channel Harvest Survey were obtained prior to “the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic” having been felt on the industry.
In addition to asking agents opinions about the buying experience, the questionnaire also gauged agents’ opinions about everything from carrier relationships to the agency growth statistics to how agencies are preparing for a digital future.
“What stands out is a divide between agents who are intentional about making insurance more like an Amazon purchase and those who prefer to offer a personal transaction,” says John Campbell, principal of Channel Harvest Research. “For example, only half of agents reported having a mobile-friendly website and 20% aren’t sure what kind of website they have.”
Agents are at a crossroads…
In preparing how to respond in the right way to a digital future dominated by younger generations, many agents are split on the type of service they should be providing. The following are some statistics the Channel Harvest Survey shared:
- Being visible when a consumer is searching online for a product or service is almost an imperative, yet the survey revealed large numbers on both sides of the digital divide.
- Among the 88% of respondents whose agencies have a website, 42% say their firm uses search engine optimization (SEO), while nearly one-third do not implement SEO, and 17% are not sure.
- Self-service was another big differentiator, as over half of respondents said they do not offer customers the ability to purchase a policy, add a vehicle, change a deductible or change or add coverages.
- Fewer than 10% of agents said they have their own technology allowing customers to purchase a policy, add a vehicle, change a deductible or change or add coverages.
- Alternately, a larger number — nearly one-third — have their own technology for allowing prospective customers to get a quote online.
“Carriers are also an important part of the self-service equation, as they will have to consider if they should push these solutions to agents or let agents decide what they want to do,” said Campbell. “A common refrain is insurance is behind other consumer services when it comes to convenience, and the survey data confirms that,” he added.