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Exclusive insurance providers - insurance companies benefit when their agents enjoy strong brand identity and decision-making authority

In as many as 9 of the 22 exclusive providers surveyed, at least half of the agents would recommend their insurance company to interested colleagues. This means that the representatives of Debeka, Concordia, Con-tinentale, HanseMerkur, LVM, Mecklenburgische, Provinzial Rheinland, VGH and Württembergische Versicherung (in alphabetic order) are more than twice as convinced of their product provider as the laggards in the sector, only around 20 % of which would recommend their insurance company.

The 22 sales agents achieved an average net promoter score (NPS) of 30 (47 % promoters minus 17 % detractors). Market leaders even achieved an NPS of 76. These are the results revealed by the current benchmark survey from Sirius Campus in cooperation with IT service provider adesso. The first part of the survey was already presented to the public in October (on digitalisation in insurance agencies).

As part of the “Success Factors in Exclusivity” benchmark survey series carried out since 2003, more than 1,100 insurance agents for 22 insurers were interviewed by telephone between May and July 2019. The survey, which aimed to assess cooperation between agencies and their insurance companies, is carried out in cooperation with the IT service provider adesso, which has been supporting leading insurance companies on the path to digitalisation for over two dec-ades.

Copyright Sirius Campus

Entrepreneurial freedom much more important than the amount of commission

The willingness to recommend, motivation and loyalty of associated sales partners are influenced by a variety of factors when it comes to working with the insurer. The greatest influence on the devotedness and loyalty of representatives is their decision-making authority. On average, two-thirds of the representatives (67 %) are motivated by their entrepreneurial freedom (rating: very good or ex-cellent).

In order to be able to do business adequately, the amount of commission is of course also very important for motivating and engaging the agents. Yet the result was surprising on this: out of the approximately 50 possible motivation drivers surveyed, the amount of commission only ranked at number 15. Reliability of internal back office support (number 2), customer services (number 4) and agency inventory management software (number 7) are considered to be much more important qualities in the collaboration between a representative and his or her company. Even comprehensibility and transparency of the commission settlement – coming in at number 10 in the driver ranking – is more important than the commission amount itself. At the moment, however, 25 % are not satisfied with the transparency provided on remuneration (rating: moderate or poor).

Brand identity fosters inspiration

Due to the high pressure for change in the insurance sector, it is becoming more and more important to include the associated sales force in the development process. Brand identity as measured by the assessment of the company’s strategy for the next five years has, in fact, just as strong an influence on agent motivation as decision-making authority. Only half of all representatives (49 %) are enthusiastic about the company’s strategy; 13 % are not satisfied with it and a whole 7 % do not have anything to say about it. In concrete terms, around half of all representatives know little or nothing about the company’s strategy in terms of online self-service for customers, product development and sustainability.

However, it is precisely these strategic issues – which, according to the anal-yses, are closely connected to the issues of customer orientation and the struc-ture of exclusivity – that make it possible to create a strong brand identity for in-surance agents. “Many customers consider insurance brands to be largely inter-changeable, but representatives do not. Insurance company brand managers should pay much more attention to brand image and identity among their agents to inspire their sales partners and strengthen them as key brand ambassadors,” Dr Oliver Gaedeke, Managing Director at Sirius Campus, points out.

Dr Oliver Gaedeke, Managing Director at Sirius Campus - Copyright Sirius Campus

IT expertise boosts quality and security in customer service

When this benchmark series began in 2003, the IT expertise of an insurance provider was not considered to be very relevant. Now, the quality of the inventory and consulting software at the agency as well as the advantages of automatic sales stimuli have become very important for the customer service representatives. This not only concerns working more efficiently, but also ensuring quality and security in customer service. The increasing variety of products, numerous regulations and the variety of customer requests mean that having a user-friendly consulting software is a major success factor – for agents and customers alike. “Software development is not only about accuracy and system com-patibility. The focus must be on user and customer benefits so that the invest-ments – which are mostly long term – yield the highest possible returns”, is how Dr Dirk Platz, head of Insurance at adesso, interprets the survey results.

Study 2019 - Copyright Sirius Campus

About the benchmark survey

The survey looks specifically at the insurance sector and analyses more than 50 drivers of agent loyalty and motivation in a time series analysis. This year’s edition of the survey also sheds light on digitalisation in insurance agencies and brand identity among agents. The open benchmark results on assessing product quality and prices, customer service and the quality of regulation, on aspects of agent support, on the level of commission and on back office services for agents, are reported to the following 22 companies: Allianz, ARAG, AXA, Barmenia, Concordia, Continentale, Debeka, DEVK, ERGO, Gothaer, HanseMerkur, HDI, HUK-Coburg, LVM, Mecklenburgische, Nürnberger, Provinzial Rheinland, R+V Versicherung, Signal Iduna, VGH, Württembergische, Zurich.

For more information on the approximately 200-page benchmark survey, please contact Dr Oliver Gaedeke, Sirius Campus (email: or phone: +49 (0)152 38 24 66 40).

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