3 Steps to Innovative Agent-Consumer Communication
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 29, 2013
Insurance is truly a wonderful industry to be a part of. The products we sell are a valuable safety-net to protect people from catastrophic events in their lives. We should be quite proud of the service we provide; clients require the coverage year after year, and as their lives become more complicated and they acquire more assets or enlarge their families, they need more insurance.
Consumers appreciate the value that agents bring to the complexities of buying insurance. Agents provide expertise, education and advocacy to clients. The recent J.D. Powers & Associates comScore study supports this fact. Consumers find agents easier to use than a black-box 800 number or a website, and while more consumers conduct research online, they still prefer to finalize their purchase through an agent who they can visit or call. In today’s cyberworld, an agent provides that desired personal touch.
The study also confirmed that agents cannot be complacent when it comes to the need for proactive and regular communication with their clients. Carriers can assist with this effort through their support of agencies, including sales and service training, and social media opportunities, and agents should also offer choice to modern consumers in the methods they prefer to use to communicate. Innovative agencies are embracing communications through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as well as 24/7 call servicing, email, smartphone apps, mobile websites and texting accessibility
Consumers are expecting this more and more, in particular, as younger consumers join the workforce and begin making their own buying decisions. Agents and carriers have an excellent opportunity to attract purchasers for their products in today’s fast-paced world by using three easy strategies:
First, provide convenience. Everyone today is too busy, but if carriers provide real-time interfaces for agents to use, together we can provide a professional, pleasurable sales process, which will be appreciated by consumers.
Second, agents and carriers have tremendous opportunity with new sales tools and business intelligence which will help identify appropriate demographics for niche marketing and cross-selling occasions.
Third, our industry can use the power of social media and search engine optimization to get the attention of consumers. As agents delve into their internet presence, they are able to establish themselves as a subject-matter expert to help consumers understand the complexity of insurance. Carriers can support agents by providing resources and content for agency internet-marketing campaigns.
Angelyn Treutel, CPA, is president of Southgroup Insurance Gulf Coast and the chair of ASCnet's Industry Solutions Industry Initiatives Committee and the past-chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology.
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