This past weekend, we took a family trip to Kansas City. As we often do, we ended up deviating from the interstate and this time around we stopped off on Main Street, Rock Port, MO. As a Brit, who also happens to be a history/computer science major, I love these little side trips and windows into the past.
Walk down any Main Street across the U.S and you are handed a glimpse into a once glittering past. It is close, within reach. Close enough that the sense of change is real, and the emotions are still quite raw. For many businesses occupying Main Street, change was swift and in a very short time, the booming face-to-face community focused business was decimated by the swift emergence of the automobile and the commercial life of big-box stores and the mall.
Walt Disney captured the essence of Main Street best:
“Main Street, U.S.A is America at the turn of the century – the crossroads of an era. The gas lamps and the electric lamp — the horse-drawn car and auto car. The heart line of America.” – Walt Disney
Time moves on and for the businesses left behind, unable to modernize in the wake of a changing world, they suddenly became relics of the past.
Having just returned from this year’s InsurTech Connect, walking down Main Street, Rock Port, MO, it all felt so tangible. A deep-rooted sense that we are at the crossroads of a new age. A digital future embodied by innovation, technology, and speed, replacing a lethargic and outdated analog past punctuated by inefficiency. A digital highway is emerging, threating to leave behind anybody who is not on board.
One building appeared to capture all the emotions within its withered and weathered façade. A building that likely had many stories to tell. My daughter was eager to peer inside, dig a little deeper into the mysteries locked within. A once bustling haven of insurance activity, consigned to the archives and frozen in time.
Farmers Mutual Ins Co – 409 Main Street, Rock Port, MO
Oh, the stories it could tell!
So here we are at a crossroads. Main street USA in many ways is starting to rise once again. A phoenix from the ashes. With people turning to the convenience of on-line shopping, the urban mall is in steady decline. For Main Street, smaller, boutique stores are starting to emerge, enticing the shopper back in for a more personal, face-to-face interaction.
“Main streets are like the spine of every vital urban centre” — Mary Rowe, Canadian Urban Institute”
Insurance, an industry rooted in history and tradition, is also at crossroads of its own. An industry steeped in tradition, with a firm focus around community is faced with an uncertain future. Technology has opened the doors to incredible opportunities for innovation around the customer experience. The moment is there to be seized. Smart data and intelligent automation paired with customer-centric thinking has enabled every single one of us to truly re-think the customer experience. The opportunity is open to incumbents and InsurTechs alike.
Last week, I shared my own customer claims journey that I am currently embarking on with a prominent carrier. As a visual, here is an image comparing the claim journey (top) to a typical Amazon customer journey (bottom). I will be sharing more about this experience next week, but insureds take note – this level (or lack) of detail is unacceptable for what customers expect today.
If history teaches us anything, it is time stands still for no-one. Main Street, U.S.A was perhaps a victim of the times, unable to pivot and readjust to an agile, modern, and consumer-driven world that was increasingly embracing technology and convenience. The future is brighter, however, for those who are adequately prepared.
At Care Bridge International we are bringing our own flavor of people, process, technology, and data to help modernize the claims experience. A revolutionary digital approach to forecasting medical treatment and costs for claims has resulted in the industry’s fastest, most accurate outcomes focused digital platform.
Our Walk, Run, Sprint methodology also means that no matter where you are on the digital highway, we will meet you there and help support you on your journey.
I am excited to see the emergence of Main Street 2.0, reinvigorated by the emergence of a different type of retail experience. For Rock Port, MO, there are glimpses of life. A Mexican restaurant, Midwest Boutique, but for the relics of the past, there is no reinventing the wheel.
“For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde, Ay fleeth the tyme; it nyl no man abyde.”
Geoffrey Chaucer – The Clerk’s Tale, 1837-1400
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