Flight to digital II: Early arrival

Posted by Andrew Gates on Jun 23, 2020 10:56:19 AM

“And that’s it — that’s why I switched from ADP to Gusto.” 


The customer we were interviewing was explaining that, since he had hired a few young people at his firm, he’d noticed something peculiar and unexpected: they changed banks frequently. Like, every-six-months-or-so frequently. 


Why? Turned out, it was because they were chasing the cash incentives that banks would offer for setting up a new account. The deal was, they had to stay with the bank for a certain number of months and get a certain number of direct deposits into the account to qualify for the cash. But once they met the qualifications and got the cash, they were free to abandon that account and move on to a new bank with another cash incentive.


The problem was, our customer didn’t want to be spending his time making these tedious account and routing number updates in his payroll software month after month. So he switched to a payroll provider that allowed his young employees to do it themselves.


And that, as they say… was that.




Over here on the insurance side of the small business world, it’s no different. The flight to digital is rapidly gaining speed and altitude. And while commercial insurance has lagged behind personal lines in offering the convenience of online policy purchase and management options, there’s no question that’s the journey we’re all on, and the future we’re all hurtling towards.




But… business insurance is still complicated, and the stakes are huge. The unwelcome arrival of COVID-19 has only underscored the precariousness of doing business in an uncertain world, and insurance is one of the few bulwarks against that uncertainty. The coronavirus has also revealed the difficulties of adapting an industry known for its glacial pace of change to our new pandemic situation. While insurance carriers have made some heroic efforts to help affected clients in the past few months, they can’t simply dismantle decades of regimentation on a dime.


Enter the digital insurance agency.


If you only had the convenience of a faceless online insurance experience — think car insurance, or even buying an airplane ticket — in a situation as screwy as COVID-19, who would you turn to for answers, or for help? And then on the flip side, if you were working with a small “Main Street” insurance broker, would you trust them to be able to negotiate on your behalf with the behemoth bureaucracies of the insurance industry?


One thing we’re proud to acknowledge is that in the COVID-19 world, as a digital insurance agency serving more than 65,000 business customers, we’ve been in a position to offer the best of both worlds: the convenience of a streamlined online insurance experience (online quotes and purchasing, self-service online certificates of insurance, automated payments, etc.), plus the clout, expertise, and deep relationships with our carrier partners to be able to negotiate effectively on behalf of struggling customers. For example, when it became clear that hundreds of COVID-affected Pay As You Go workers’ comp customers with one of our carrier partners were going to be served with cancelation notices, we were able to work with the carrier to implement a solution that would allow these small businesses to keep their coverage active while they regroup and resume operations. 


Like most successful companies, we stay in touch with our customers because we know it’s the best way to understand their needs when it comes to designing new products and features, improving our service practices, and easing their day-to-day pain points. (That’s how we found out about the unusual reason behind our customer’s flight from ADP to Gusto in the first place.) Will we ever be as in-the-know as a Main Street agent who golfs with their clients, or runs into them at the grocery store? Maybe not. But knowing the ins and outs of the industry, and having the capability and leverage to navigate it effectively, can be just as—if not more—important when it comes to serving customers’ needs. This is true now more than ever. 


The good news is, the flight to digital doesn’t have to mean choosing one of these destinations over another.




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