The Now Generation Agent

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Circa 2005 ... I found myself in the large auditorium at my carrier HQ, where I was working at the time. It was an “all hands” meeting for the entire technology organization, which I was a part of (internet).

On the agenda from our executives was “The Agency of Tomorrow”, or “AOT” as they dubbed it. Because what corporation doesn’t need more acronyms.

We heard all about what this ‘agency of tomorrow’ was projected to look like.

They were going to need a website, apparently. And it would need to be optimized (SEO, what?). And a “contact us” form, so they can be reached on the web. And an 800-number. 

And they would need to start thinking about using a service center for 24x7 service for their insureds. We know how much agents trust service centers.

Mind you, it was 2005. The jury was still out if this internet thing was here to stay. Seriously, there was some skepticism.

Fast forward to 2010. Same bat channel. Same bat time. This time, on the agenda from our executives, “The Next Generation Agent”, or "NGA". Because, you know ... acronyms.

But as we quickly learned, "NGA" was the “Agency of Tomorrow” presentation, v2.0.

This time, though, the theme of a technology-enabled agency was much more robust. “Digital transformation” was the new buzzword, backed by a brief, but deep, historical data set of consumer’s buying habits on the internet.

  • Where did they shop for insurance? And where did they buy insurance?
  • Where did they go for service? When did they want to do their own self service?
  • What did they expect in a retail experience vs. online vs. the phone, a.k.a. omni-channel distribution?

Agents were going to need content, and lots of it. Including videos, because YouTube was emerging as the leading search engine.

They were going to need customer reviews. Say what? Yes, online content was shifting from company-served content to user-created content. And consumers were starting to trust other consumer's word more than the word from the companies they bought from. Yikes!

They were going to need a social media presence and a digital marketing strategy to go with it.

They were going to need to meet consumers where they were – not only in their physical locations, but on the phone and on the internet, 24 hours a day. Cough ... omni-channel!

They were going to have to embrace the new world order of a business mix that was outweighed by commercial and financial products. Personal Lines would be a low value, high volume, low margin transaction. 

Agents were going to need a bigger boat

The famous quote from the great Wayne Gretzky was top-tier marketing fodder – “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

This internet thing was here to stay, and rumors of the death of the retail agent were alive and well. Insert the McKinsey article, comparing the Travel Agent to the Insurance Agent.

 

The “Now Generation Agent”

Fast forward to now, 16 years after the "AOT" and 11 years after "NGA", those once so-called “Next Generation Agents” are here. The “Next Generation Agent” is “The Now Generation” agent. They are here, right now, and they are more capable, willing and able than ever expected.

Rumors of their demise had been grossly exaggerated.

They are tech savvy and understand complex concepts of “scale” and system integration – topics once reserved only for high-paid consultants. Heck, some are even building their own technology!

They are highly skilled digital marketers, building their own brands online through social media, their own YouTube channels and podcasts.

They are self-sufficient, but transparent and hyper-collaborative.

They have high expectations of themselves and of others.

They understand the value-chain of distribution, for both their clients and their carriers, driving self-service where it belongs and positioning themselves as risk managers. Where they belong.

They outsource non-core or non value-added functions offshore.

They expect things to be fast and accurate and have no tolerance for industry sacred cows.

They know no limits and accept no boundaries, especially geographic.

 We know a few of them:

They are moving our industry beyond its self-imposed limits and proving that this generation of agents is driving the insurance distribution bus. WARNING: Be on it or under it.

 

We need to stop talking of "The Next Generation Agent". They are here, right now, and they are pushing us to match them, step for step.

And we love it! 

 

#StayIndie


 Chad Eddy, MBA, is the CEO at Indium. He has more than 25 years of multifaceted, multi-industry experience. In addition to serving independent agents, Chad is passionate about spending time with his family, playing and watching hockey, listening to good music, reading, and raising money for cystic fibrosis research.