Many of us are approaching the one-year mark of working from home, and looking back, it's hard to remember a life before COVID-19 – before your children, spouse, or pets became your work-from-home colleagues; before staff meeting attire consisted of a business casual shirt paired with sweatpants; before the phrase “you're on mute" was understood and spoken by virtually everyone over the age of six.
In the early months of 2020, life outside the safety of our homes became almost nonexistent. It became clear that if a business or organization wanted to stay relevant and accessible to their customers, the only way to succeed was to embrace that distance and adapt accordingly. This triggered huge advances in technology, both in how we use it and how often we use it. More than ever, businesses needed digital tools to help them engage with their workforce and their consumers – which brings us to where we are today. A world where our face-to-face interactions have been replaced by email chains and video calls in an effort to maintain our normal lives at a minimum distance of six feet.
Is this the future of our professional lives? As we make plans to return to the office, it's important to consider that “business as usual" may look pretty different in a post-pandemic world. Many employers have realized the financial benefits of a fully remote staff, and they have an abundance of affordable, user-friendly solutions specifically designed to meet their goals. Those that do make their eventual return to the office can utilize technology in a unique way that enhances their business practices. As much as we may like to pretend it was all a bad dream, it's much more productive to reflect on both the struggles and the solutions we faced during the pandemic and use that knowledge to evolve in a world that doesn't just use technology but relies on it.
Technology trends you can expect to find in your post-pandemic world:
One of the major changes we've seen as a result of the pandemic is the way consumers are spending their money. Online shopping and automated customer service has become more prominent in recent years, and that trend has only accelerated in the wake of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. While the insurance industry has a unique need for a personalized customer service experience, that doesn't mean agencies shouldn't embrace the rise in online commerce.
Digital communication channels such as live support chats and contact forms can be used to increase productivity and reduce costs by shifting away from labor-intensive phone calls and in-person visits. Many agencies have adopted eSignature software like DocuSign or HelloSign to create a quicker, more convenient service experience for both the agent and the customer. These days, most consumers expect to be able to research a business and its products online. A website that's informative and user-friendly can be paired with digital tools that increase staff productivity and organization, so you can find your agency's perfect balance of automated customer service with a personalized touch.
Did you know? As a Big “I" member, you have access to a free agency digital marketing review with Trusted Choice! Find out how Trusted Choice can help you improve your online presence.
2. Social Media Presence
It's 2021 – you don't have to be an expert in digital marketing to realize that social media has arguably one of the strongest influences on the public's buying habits. We spend more time online than ever before, and social media is one of the most common ways people get information about a brand and its products. Smart businesses understand that because over 70% of Americans have at least one social media account, it is essential to utilize platforms like Facebook and Instagram to increase exposure and connect with customers. The best part? Its free, and you probably already know how to use it!
Need guidance on boosting your social media presence? Check out the last issue of Inside Look: 3 Content Ideas to Improve Your Agency's Social Media.
3. Virtual Events & Training
In December 2019, around 10 million people across the globe attended a Zoom meeting daily. By April 2020 that number rose to a whopping 300 million virtual meeting attendees each day. That's not counting other prominent virtual conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting. Virtual meetings have changed the way we work, the way we educate our children, the way we earn a college degree, and the way we celebrate holidays with our loved ones. Soon, we'll reunite with co-workers face-to-face and return to discussions without a mute button, but that doesn't mean you should cancel your Zoom subscription just yet. Virtual conferencing can and should find its place in your business's post-pandemic world.
Virtual meetings can still be used to make communication with your customers and associates more efficient going forward. Virtual conferencing subscriptions are incredibly affordable, and some packages even offer a virtual meeting assistant built to listen to your meeting and transcribe it for your records. You can make meetings even more efficient by eliminating travel and using calendar integrations to seamlessly schedule events.
Moving forward, virtual conferencing will continue to play a huge role in your professional development. Even when the rest of the world stopped, your bi-annual CE requirements sure didn't. In the absence of in-person classes, agents and employers across the country turned to online training. Continuing education providers were forced to adapt to this new reality and provide accessible, affordable online education solutions using virtual conferencing software. Professional education and development became easier than ever with the emergence of webinars and on-demand courses. Even as life returns back to normal, we can expect this online education trend to continue. Employers no longer have to pay travel expenses to send employees to class, education providers no longer have the cost of hosting in-person attendees, and employees can still receive the same quality of education from their home or office.
Have you heard? Big I Arkansas now offers a wide variety of online education options for your continuing education and designation requirements!