Insurance Agency Management systems (AMS) traditionally have been designed to help agencies and their branches manage local markets effectively and efficiently. In today’s world, these capabilities may not be enough to develop, grow and strengthen new and existing client connections while satisfying increasingly demanding customer expectations.

Search comparative websites for AMS solutions and you’ll find ratings on accounting, agent tracking, commission processing, productivity tools, contact and task management, sales tools and analytics…just to name a few. The focus – to sell and service with a dash of administration.

Search instead for customer relationship management sites and another theme emerges. You see ratings on contact management, lead management, sales analytics, mobile, analytics, workflow, and social management. The focus -- to find and engage new and current customers.

How do we bridge these two themes to create a more unified and productive customer and agency management experience and what tools and capabilities are needed to effectively connect agencies with customers? If we were to receive a post card from the future, we might see:

• Persona Matching. Rather than matching based on coverage needs alone, will we see capabilities emerge that help us match customer personas to providers proven to care, believe, and invest in the things that matter to the prospect?

• Social Engagement. Going beyond birthday emails to technology that not only helps make these next level connections, but enables curation of the connection over time? For example, invitations to upcoming community events or distribution of carrier authored/promoted content.

• Connected Customer Experience. Will we see capabilities that both enable and synthesize the carrier-customer-agent connection in a way that provides customers the ability to tune and tailor how they wish to engage over time and in-turn provide insights to carrier and agency as to how they can best partner to deliver a seamless experience?

• Innovation. In a world where minimal viable products (MVPs) and marketable features (MMFs) become the fast track toward value delivery, do carriers begin to interact with their agents and customers in a way that goes beyond surveys by providing them a voice in ideation; a front row seat to the prioritization table; and opportunities along the way to participate in the next wave of innovation via beta groups?

• Internet of Things (IoT). Creating connections with the consumer in the future doesn’t extend to deeper personal connections alone – with the rapid advance of IoT and Usage-based Insurance (UBI) may we see new methods of connection and data emerge that enables carriers and agents to act before a loss in ways never before possible? For example, a roof sensor that alerts the carrier, agent and policyholder to dangerous load conditions. With the alert an optional coverage allows the carrier to automatically contact a service provider in the area to clear the load condition.

• Data Analytics – A Shared Service. Will carriers go beyond using capabilities such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and data listening to effectively quantify and price risk exposures to leveraging these technologies such that they provide customers with intelligence they can action by getting in front of fast emerging risks such as those in cyber – not via new coverage offerings – but via rapid alerting and steps to mitigate? Think Norton anti-virus for exposure.

We all have our profit motives – from the individual to the enterprise – but at a time when purpose motive is serving as a key differentiator for people when they choose where to work, why wouldn’t it also serve to drive decisions as to who the consumer wants to transact business with? Insights cited here and far too many more to reference indicate they do.

Today’s consumers have more options than ever and demand more from the companies with which they do business. Companies seeking to satisfy these consumers need agency management systems that bridge the gap between traditional administration and sales, and emerging trends in customer engagement.