I generally don’t like to write on topics that are only going to affect us for a short time period, knock on wood. We are in the midst of a world that is scary and uncertain. But I think there will be aspects of our life that will not change back to the old ways, or will not change back for a long time.
Research says that it takes between 21 and 66 days to form a new habit. And in this unprecedented time, we have been forced to change our daily routines and this will have long-lasting effects on us as a society.
Much of what insurance agents are going through now is similar to my experience in 2008. The digital changes that agents were forced to endure almost overnight was something I went through and has also been a tension between our industry and consumers for some time now.
In this post, I want to share some of my experiences and help agents tackle the challenges and opportunities before them.
What our clients wanted and why did we not give it to them
The Insurance marketplace was adapting slowly to the desires of the marketplace. For some time, we have lagged behind the way people buy and how they wish to access the marketplace. We still are in many ways delivering our product and our service the way we have for years.
Several years ago, JD Powers shared some research on what they found from consumers on what they wanted from their insurance agent. And what was found in the type of service they wanted was the type we offered least.
They wanted an agent who utilized both personal service and used technology. But as the graph showed it was the least offered model.
The people from Majesco also had an enlightening study that said clients’ expectations have dramatically changed in the Digital Age. What the buyer expects now is:
- Value-Added Services and Risk Products
- Customer-Centric and Event-Based products
- Omni Channel distribution
- Risk Prevention
- Digital and Mobile access
And again, we, as with a few exceptions, have not answered the call.
So, what happened?
In early March 2020, our world changed. We were forced to change how we do business almost overnight.
Our industry has been disrupted but we are fortunate that we are still vital and essential. So many other industries have been brought to a grinding halt.
But on a dime, many of us had to scramble to meet the new reality. Following many of the groups in social media sharing experiences of how they were adapting. From closing the office and practicing social distances in their offices to adapting to a work from home model, to just panic.
There has been a lot of idea sharing and things like Zoom video has taken off. It is like running your agency after a natural disaster but it keeps coming day after day.
Is there an opportunity here?
When this eases and we are able to come out again what are your plans? Do you just take the closed sign down? Do you go back to the same old, same old?
I would challenge you to look at this as a wake-up call. Where you are now is where the consumer has asked you to be for years.
Many of us have tinkered with tech but it does not have the most efficient set up in most shops.
The Tech Stack Monster
Does your agency employ a number of different tools? Email, Social Media, Web, Analytics, Video Conferencing, online advertising, etc.
If you use any or all do they talk to each other? Are they helping you:
- Communicate in a blast with an individually targeted message
- Be able to meet in a more personal way with clients that have adapted to a digital shopping mode
- Have a web presence and resource offerings where the dots are all connected
- Provide you meaningful data and analytics
- Alert you on who is visiting your agency, digitally
- Tools to try and get them back to your site
So as chaotic as your day is, there is no time like the present to have you look at your operations and take these lemons and make lemonade.
Can you take some of the practices and improve your future? We wrote an article in the 2020 PIA Agency Marketing Guide. It talks about the “Case for Marketing Automation.” It talks about the need to bring your agency to the place that the consumers I discussed earlier from the JD Powers and Majesco studies are looking for their Insurance solutions.
PIA’s Marketing Guide: “The Case For Marketing Automation” (article starts on page 3)
We were there
We made this jump after the disruption of the 2008 recession. We realized our agency needed to change because the marketplace had. We stumbled through the retooling and we learned through trial and error how to attract opportunity.
This was a decision we committed to. So as we go through this time where new habits are formed both by you and your client, we encourage you to take the opportunity to make your business viable in the days, months and years to come!
We were there and came out stronger than we were before. What will be your agency’s outcome?
Feel free to reach out if you have questions or just want to swap war stories.
Mark T. Reilly