4 agent experience roadblocks to assess

I spend a lot of time traveling around the country building integrations with backend systems that are commonly used by insurance carriers. Normally, what clients are looking for is a better experience for their customers: How can they leverage data from backend systems to create a flashier website or make it easier to get a quote?

While that’s undoubtedly important, what sometimes gets overlooked is the experience for their agents. This is particularly problematic for insurers selling a significant number of policies though independent agents, who can get frustrated and go to another provider.

According to Interact, workers spend 19.8% of business time searching for information and documents necessary to do their job effectively. That’s the equivalent of one day per work week. Indeed, for organizations of 1,000 employees or more, this wasted time can result in an annual loss of up to $2.5 million.

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Allianz AG agent Cihat Polat, left, explains details regarding car insurance at their offices in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, November 14, 2003. Allianz AG, Europe's biggest insurer by premiums, reported its second straight quarterly profit as earnings in the main property and casualty division advanced. Photographer: Axel Seidemann/Bloomberg News

Could costly agent UX mistakes be hindering your enterprise? Here are four areas you should assess:

  • Lagging frontends. When was the last time you updated your site’s front-end? Even if it’s functional, if the last update was three or more years ago—the time for a refresh has arrived. Users, including your agents, expect sites to function with all the ease and intuitiveness afforded by the latest technologies. Keep in mind that a front-end refresh doesn't mean an overhaul of your entire site. A well-designed back-end can provide the functionality your agents need for the foreseeable future.
  • Overly complicated forms. Especially salient for insurers who use independent agents to sell policies, UX marked by difficult-to-navigate, unclear directions and overly complicated, or otherwise clunky forms will lead to abandoned forms—sending agents to your competitors. By creating a streamlined agent UX, independent and captive agents alike will have an easier time selling, which will keep third-party agents coming back.
  • Difficult-to-track-KPIs. If agents can’t easily track their goals, UX is hindering their sales performance. Instead, provide quick access to KPIs and organize progress data in an easy-to-understand comprehensive view.
  • Decentralized data. Do your agents have convenient access to crucial information or do they have to interface with multiple systems? A single dashboard that automatically surfaces important data from various systems will support your agent’s goals by keeping them informed, organized and motivated. A single entry point will also streamline workflow and reduce time wasted looking for resources, thereby increasing productivity.

What’s being discussed here is nothing new. In 1973 Thomas J. Watson—the second president of IBM—said, “Good design is good business.” It still holds true today. As technology continues to change the way we interact with traditional tasks like buying and selling insurance, UX will set apart the best companies.

Wilson Man serves as Principal Consultant in Liferay’s Global Services division. A seventeen-year veteran of the enterprise software industry, Wilson received his BS in Computer Science & Engineering from the University of California, Davis.

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