Why agents should add a client portal to their website
It’s a simple formula: Increasing customer satisfaction leads to increased customer retention. With customers expecting more from their insurance experience, leading independent agents are leaning on digital solutions to put the customer experience at the core of everything they do.
If an agency’s website is one of its most important marketing assets, further extending your insurance services by providing clients access to a self-serve client portal from your website acts as a launchpad for engagement—allowing customers to manage their basic insurance needs whenever and wherever they please.
What are client portals?
Introduced several decades ago by early software insurance pioneers, a client portal is an online hub that enables an insurance agency’s accounts to self-serve on their basic insurance needs. The hub, or portal, is a web-based tool accessed by an insured with a secure username and password, typically from a link permanently embedded on an agency’s website.
Out-of-the-box client portal solutions enable agencies to enhance their customer services for personal lines customers and small- to medium-sized business accounts through software licensing. By offering insureds the ability to access policy details and manage their basic insurance needs, a web-based portal provides clients ease and convenience while making it faster and more efficient to meet customer expectations. For this reason, many leading independent agents offer portal access to their insureds.
How client portals can benefit agents
A client portal enables clients to do business with you when, where and how it works best for them—delivering the same level of service and personal touch they’re used to, all online. While portals provide ease and convenience to clients, they also offer a host of benefits to agencies, including:
- Increasing agency efficiency—By allowing clients to access to policy information on a self-serve basis, make a payment, file a claim, or request an auto ID card or certificate of insurance, client portals empower your agency to “talk” to your customers—all without the phone ringing. Automation makes it faster and cheaper to meet customer needs, promoting staff efficiency.
- Delivering on customer expectations—From our Agency Forward research, we know that demand for agent guidance is growing among insurance consumers and business owners. Offering a time-saving client portal frees up time for your staff, allowing them to consult with existing clients on more complex insurance needs rather than performing repetitive tasks.
- Driving client satisfaction and retention—A client portal enables clients to manage their insurance needs when, where and how it works best for them, increasing client satisfaction and retention.
- Keeping your brand top of mind—Every portal login is client engagement that reinforces your agency’s ease of service, promotes your brand and strengthens the relationship you have with your current and prospective customers, helping you retain more customers and drive referrals.
- Reducing risk—Communications or tasks managed via a client portal are secure and paperless, minimizing security risks.
What clients look for in client portals
Customers value ease and speed of access to their insurance policy information. But, when you hear the term self-service, does it feel like a less warm and welcoming approach? Today, nothing could be further from the truth. From withdrawing money from an ATM to making an online purchase, self-serve is the go-to automation for every generation due to the convenience it offers. In fact, nearly half of all consumers we’ve surveyed (48%) have used a client portal website.
Portal access and use is easy and intuitive. A client is given portal access by agency invitation. Each client has a portal profile, which they set up online and access with a unique username and password. Policy information is tailored to the user, but other features are identical across the portal platform. By providing clients access to a web-based portal, customers enjoy the following benefits:
- Ease and convenience—Anytime, anywhere access offers clients the ability to interact with your agency when it suits them, providing ease and convenience.
- Fast resolution—Client portals provide a fast way for clients to connect with questions and opportunities for agencies to respond accordingly. With access to an online portal, customers can take fast action to view their policy, print auto ID cards, request coverage changes, make payments, submit a form, request a certificate or report a claim.
- Paperless and secure—A portal allows clients to access their accounts, view paperless policy documents and contact you in a secure environment, reducing personal security risks.
The future of client portals
As it goes with technology, advancements are always on the horizon. Today, agency information, claims handling processes, and tools to communicate with prospects, leads, and customers are fragmented, with data often sitting in silos. Through automation and data integration, digital customer service tools (e.g., live chat, CRMs, client portals and email) are evolving to point to one system of record. This means agencies can use technology to expand their client portal services by offering one digital access point to manage more complex insurance needs and enhance agency operations.
Advanced portal capabilities may include automating outbound email marketing to build portal usage and loyalty, offering reward programs within portals to increase engagement, creating client-centric workflows for keeping in touch and managing claims, offering secure document collaboration and enabling video conferencing for both online and mobile applications. For agencies, portal technology advancements might also be used to generate up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, earn win-backs and promote the clients’ advisor within the portal.
Clients that are satisfied stay with an agency. To demonstrate client value, insurance agents that provide in-demand digital touchpoints to clients deliver on customer expectations by offering ease and convenience. Clearly, investing in 24/7 connected channels, such as a client portal solution, is key to customer relationship success.
A new partnership between Glovebox and Nationwide can also help Nationwide-appointed agencies better serve their customers online. Using Glovebox’s platform for personal lines business, customers can get basic policy questions answered, request coverage changes and access insurance documents online without having to call their agents.
Learn more about next steps to consider that will help improve the client experience and create efficiencies to help prioritize staff time.
The information included in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, including subject matter experts, to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2022 Nationwide.