COVID-19 Nudges Brokers into a New World of Technology
July 22, 2020
Despite the prevalence of technology, it is surprising to learn that some business sectors are unusually slow to adopt technologies that would clearly make them more productive and efficient. If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on what could be considered somewhat of a paradox. Take the brokers who work with America's employers to offer benefits packages. The pandemic is nudging them into a whole new world of technology.
Something as simple as communicating with clients has been heavily influenced by this pandemic. Yet our industry has been holding on to old methods of communication that are not relevant in the COVID-19 era. Technology, on the other hand – some of it old and some of it new – is bridging the gap.
The brokerage business has been a very hands-on and personal business from the start. Brokers have generally preferred to meet with clients face-to-face whenever possible. At other times, the phone has been a decent substitute when face-to-face meetings are not possible.
The mobile device is by no means a new technology. Yet it has found new life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When Face-to-face meetings may not be possible right now, the mobile becomes a quick and easy channel to strike conversations and keep business continuous. Need to send an email? Need to check a blog post? The mobile device is becoming more of a critical tool to brokers everywhere. Learning to take advantage of the mobile device and apps can significantly help with managing day to day business needs.
Social media is also proving an important tool for brokers and their clients. Between Facebook, Twitter and all the rest, brokers have a new box of tools for communicating with both existing and prospective clients. The latter group are more positively impacted by social as brokers reach out to engage.
Who would have thought, just five or six years ago, that brokers in the insurance and benefits industry would be reaching out on social media? And yet here they are. Social media is engaging with new customers, keeping existing customers informed, spreading industry news, and starting conversations between partners.
Perhaps the most profound change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is the use of video conferencing. Even with email and social at the ready, brokers who would otherwise meet with clients face-to-face are now reaching out to schedule a video chat. Video has become the next best alternative to in-person face-to-face meetings.
The biggest benefit of video conferencing is the ability to mix and match media. Most video conferencing platforms do not just offer live audio and video images. They also allow for screen sharing and other interactive exercises. So now a broker can give an entire presentation via video chat, just as he/she would during an in-person meeting.
If you are looking for silver linings in the COVID-19 pandemic, one of them in the insurance and benefits arena is the thinning of the herd, so to speak. In other words, it is now incumbent on brokers to either adapt to the new technology movement or be left behind by it. This is the nature of business.
Those that adapt successfully will utilize every technology tool to create a better experience for clients and also streamline their own workload. Communication will improve. Productivity will improve. Clients will have a more positive experience backed by the products and services they need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of life. It has changed how brokers conduct their businesses, nudging them into a world of technology they have been slow to adopt thus far.