The Smartphone Imperative: Why Agents Must Adapt

smartphone-IJThere is no shortage of predictions and New Year’s resolutions about the challenges facing independent agents this year. There’s one trend, however, that needs no prediction because it’s already a reality that every agent must address or face growing irrelevance – society’s reliance on the smartphone.

tech-talk-logo-300x190eMarketer, an independent market research company that provides insights and trends related to digital marketing, media and commerce came out with their predictions including three that will exert immediate impact:

Mobile wallets will become a standard feature on newer smartphones and more retailers will accept proximity payments from systems like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and others.

Sales via smartphones will spike this year due to moves by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon to simplify the transition from mobile shopping to mobile buying.
The last prediction is that Facebook is becoming largely mobile. In the third quarter of 2015, 727 million of Facebook’s 1.55 billion mobile monthly active users (MAUs) were mobile-only, equivalent to 47 percent of users who have never interacted with Facebook on a desktop computer. During the same period in 2014, just 34 percent were mobile-only.

Agents should be concerned with security issues when it comes to smartphones.
2015, 727 million of Facebook’s 1.55 billion mobile monthly active users (MAUs) were mobile-only, equivalent to 47 percent of users who have never interacted with Facebook on a desktop computer. During the same period in 2014, just 34 percent were mobile-only.

The bottom line is this: Society is hooked on the convenience and value of the connected world and that goes for more than half of older Americans as well the vast majority of younger consumers. Conceding the fact that insurance is a more complex product than a loaf of bread or theatre tickets, why would agents believe that they are exempt from this trend?

Agents need to make it as easy as possible for consumers to do business with them by incorporating the smartphone in their operations in three ways:

Websites must be mobile-optimized (able to read on a smartphone) and more interactive.
Social media must become a key communications tool with consistent and conversational posts.
Agents must allow access to at least some of their services via a smartphone with an agency-branded app.

Time is Now

The urgency for taking these steps is tied to the fact that agencies that delay drive away business in two ways: 1) current clients will move to more digitally-savvy competitors who make it easier to get answers and stay in touch 24/7 using digital tools, and 2) losing the opportunity to even pitch some prospects when they project an image of a “digital dinosaur.”

Is your agency a digital dinosaur? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your website mobile-optimized?
  • Does your website feature social media badges that are not connected?
  • Does it take more than two clicks for someone to find what they’re looking for on your website?
  • How does your website compare with those of your competitors? Do they all look the same?
  • Do you post on social media more than once a week?
  • Are posts tailored to your agency?
  • Do you have a mobile app and is it branded to the agency?
  • Do your digital tools project a distinctive personality and brand?

The fact is, much of the customer experience today is online and with a smartphone – and agents must adapt accordingly – and soon.

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