4 Ways for Independent Agents to Compete with Direct Insurers Skip to content

Digital Agency

4 Minute Read

4 Ways for Independent Agents to Compete with Direct Insurers

Date Published:

Applied Systems logo

By: Applied Communications

Digital Agency

4 Minute Read

4 Ways for Independent Agents to Compete with Direct Insurers

Date Published:

Applied Systems logo

By: Applied Communications


It’s 2023, and customers are more digitally conscious than ever. They expect seamless interactions, up-to-date technology, and personalized offerings online. Independent agencies must undergo digital transformation and meet these expectations to avoid losing customers to a digital-first competitor.

For example, instead of simply cold calling, participate in social selling. Or instead of sending long, bulky emails during the application and renewal process, direct clients to online portals that store their application forms.

These changes can pay dividends. A McKinsey survey found that executives at companies that invested more capital into digital technologies were “twice as likely to report outsize revenue growth than executives at other companies.”

Starting Your Digital Transformation

The overall goal of a digital transformation is to become more customer-centric, so the client experience should be top of mind when creating your digital strategy. With the customer journey as your starting point, review the following steps and find the best combination for your agency to implement.

  1. 1. Create a digital transformation action plan.

    Before you can begin the digital transformation, you first need to determine what your current client journey looks like. Do you scan paper applications and attach them via email to send to your clients? How do you communicate with them? Do your clients only have access to your work phone?

    Next, assess the current digital state of your agency.

    • Where are the gaps in your current digital strategy?

    • What are your long-term goals?

    • What digital tools does your agency need to reach these goals?

    • What steps do you need to take to implement these digital tools?

    • How will you measure success?

    Once you set clear guidelines, get your staff on board. Team adoption of a digital strategy is essential to success. Educate each member on the benefits of digital transformation (i.e., efficiency, increased revenue) and establish an implementation timeline for each digital tool. Plan to review progress regularly.

  2. 2. Adopt the right technology.

    The more efficient your internal processes, the more time you’ll be able to spend on the customer experience. Technology helps accomplish this.

    For example, application and submission management platforms offer capabilities like online customer portals, smart forms, automation, and eSignature that make your operations more efficient and give you more time to spend on actual customer needs.

  3. 3. Implement a consistent, omnichannel experience.

    An omnichannel experience means customers can engage with your agency across multiple channels – whether an online portal, agency website, live chat or social media. It’s up to them to decide how they want to interact with your agency.

    Here are several steps that your agency can use to create an omnichannel experience:

    • Map out your customer journey. Look at the steps your clients take to interact with your agency. Do they experience roadblocks or problems when contacting you? Also, find out what channels your competitors are offering to their clients. What channels should you implement?

    • Set up a mobile-friendly website. Along with engaging on different channels, your clients should be able to interact on different devices. Optimize your website so it’s mobile-friendly. The view on the client’s desktop should be consistent with the view on their mobile phone.

    • Be consistent across channels. This means the messaging and brand voice are the same no matter what channel a customer visits. Voice conveys your brand’s overall personality and should be the same on your blog as on your LinkedIn, for example.

    And don’t always make the client reach out to you. Engage with your clients on multiple channels and encourage regular communication.

  4. 4. Review your data.

    Data analysis gives you deeper insights into your customers so you can make better business decisions. Your management system houses a vast amount of data – not all of which you may find relevant – so the first step is determining what metrics you want to review. Customer retention rate? The number of client interactions? Use the insights to make the customer experience more personalized. Accenture discovered that 75% of customers are more likely to purchase from a company that does the following:

    • Recognizes them by their name

    • Knows their purchase history

    • Recommends products based on their past purchases

    Analyzing your data provides you with this information. Review the data before client meetings or conversations. Let customers know that you recognize their needs. Also, use these insights to be a better advisor to your clients.

Case Study: How One Agency Digitized Their Application Process

For many agencies, the application and renewal process is in dire need of digital renovation. Take Bouchard Insurance, for example. “Traditionally in Commercial Lines, the method to gather our clients’ renewal data for the application and marketing process is lengthy and inefficient, which doesn’t align with our client-first customer experience philosophy,” said Justin Barnaky, business insurance practice leader at the agency.

Bouchard Insurance selected Indio to fully automate the client data capture and application experience for their Commercial Lines business.

Instead of attaching multiple scanned documents to an email, agents can send clients one link to smart forms within the Bouchard Insurance branded online portal. Common data fields, such as names, are automatically mapped across each application, eliminating time spent and potential mistakes from retyping information. Indio’s smart forms allow agents to mark certain application sections (or questions) “Required” and to hide others. Agents and clients can also comment back and forth directly in the forms instead of through multiple emails.

Above all else, the agency provides a better customer experience for their clients thanks to more efficient operations and digital offerings. Barnaky says, “The increased efficiency gained from using the Indio product has been a blessing to our customers and colleagues.”

Embrace Digital Innovations

With direct insurers and other independent agencies embracing the digital experience, your agency needs to get on board with digital transformation. Don’t get branded by clients as “behind the times.” A combination of digital strategies should be used to compete in the insurance industry effectively.

Start with a clear vision of your digital transformation and then focus on strategies that add the most customer value for your clients. You’ll not only lower costs and increase revenue, but most importantly, you’ll promote customer satisfaction.

If you want to digitize your application and renewal process, watch our Transform Your Application Process on-demand webinar to see firsthand how the Indio application and submissions management platform can help.