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IBM Study: Three-Quarters of Insured Americans Like Their Insurance Agent

Consumers want personalized service and human interaction from their insurance providers. A survey of 1,000 American consumers, commissioned by IBM found that three-quarters of consumers...
May 22, 2007

Consumers Want the Service Agents Provide, Plan to Remain Loyal

Consumers want personalized service and human interaction from their insurance providers. A survey of 1,000 American consumers, commissioned by IBM found that three-quarters of consumers are very satisfied with the service provided by their agents and remain committed to working with them in the future.

The study demonstrates consumers' unwavering loyalty to their insurance agent regardless of potential savings that online channels alone can provide, and it indicates how insurance carriers are providing their agents with innovative technologies to deliver more personalized customer services. For example, only 15 percent of respondents said they would consider dropping their agent to save $150 annually by purchasing insurance online. Fifty-four percent indicated no amount would make them switch. Forty-four percent of consumers said their insurance provider is innovative as compared to other industries, and 71 percent of respondents said they will work directly with their agent for future insurance needs.

Personalized service and human interaction emerged as key factors in driving consumer loyalty with their agents. More than half (53%) of consumers cite personalized service as what they like best about the services offered by their insurance agent, and quality of service topped the list of the key factors in choosing an insurance provider. For example, face-time continues to play an important role in helping agents deliver quality services; 36 percent surveyed said they like to visit their agent.

The continued gradual shift towards direct and independent agent models, combined with the decline in agent retention and recruitment, means insurers with captive agent forces face increased competition for high performing agents and difficulties expanding into alternative channels without cannibalizing their agent base. Since agents wield a great deal of influence over the customer-carrier relationship and many customers still place high value on that relationship, managing agent productivity and retention becomes critical.

In response to consumer demands for personalized service, insurance providers are now equipping agents with innovative tools to improve communications and deepen relationships with their customers. Consequently, 44 percent of consumers now recognize their insurance provider as innovative in using technology as compared to retail and travel industries. Agents indicated they are satisfied with the use of technology in their day-to-day activities and point to the centralization of sales-relevant software applications and data and use of customer analytics to better target products and services as key drivers in agent and customer satisfaction.

More on the IBM study.

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