“You can’t automate a relationship”

“You can’t automate a relationship” | Insurance Business

“You can’t automate a relationship”

Taking just a cursory look at Rivers Insurance’s website will reveal that the multilocation brokerage is doing things a little differently compared to many other players in the market.

From straight-forward language to personalised staff profiles, Rivers takes a noticeable step away from the stiff and serious reputation that often accompanies insurance.

Of course, this detour is no accident – company director Nerida Trappett (pictured) says the brokerage chose to adopt a more informal attitude because it complements the firm’s commitment to relationships.

“Our culture is all about relationships – whether that’s with our underwriters, our clients or internally with our staff – relationships are our main focus,” says Trappett, who joined the firm in 2015.

“Honestly, I can’t overstate the importance of relationships – and they’re always going to be important because that’s what people really value, and you can’t automate a relationship.”

Abandoning technical jargon, Trappett insists, is an effective way to break down barriers that stand between brokers and clients, so a more meaningful connection can be established.

“We believe in taking the technical jargon out and talking to clients in their language, rather than our language,” says Brisbane-based Trappett.

“That way, they feel more comfortable talking to you because you’re not throwing big words at them that they don’t understand, but you can still get your message across.”

A shift towards a more informal tone isn’t the only measure Rivers has taken to help keep the focus on relationships – the personalised staff profiles were also designed to spark a human connection.

“Those profiles on the website are also on our email signatures and business cards – they’re a bit of an ice breaker and they often drive really good conversations with clients,” says Trappett.

Unlike standard staff profiles which tend to detail professional history or academic achievements, Rivers draws attention to each employee’s passion or hobby – with an accompanying photo.

Notable mentions include 40-year insurance veteran Lyn Heaton, who is a regular on the basketball court; and branch manager Brad Allen, who spends most of his spare time diving or fishing in the waters of Far North Queensland.

“We never give a business card out and see it go straight in someone’s pocket,” says Trappett. “It’s always looked at and discussed so it’s been a really great way to connect with clients.”

However, the simple initiative isn’t just for the benefit of customers – Trappett says it also lends into the fact that Rivers wants employees to feel comfortable being their full selves at work.

“We’ve got fantastic staff and we’re all about our people, so we strive to have a family culture with a caring environment,” she says.

This culture is reflected in the firm’s five values – accountability, approachability, passion, support, and diversity – which were driven from the bottom-up by Rivers employees.

“We don’t believe in driving culture from the top down, it needs to be all of us deciding what the culture is and what we want that to be moving forward,” she says.

The sentiment is backed up by a number of benefits the brokerage has rolled out for employees – including a nine-day fortnight and flexible work opportunities.

“We have four staff members who came back from maternity leave and decided they’d prefer to work part time and we have one staff member who predominantly works from home,” says Trappett. “Where we can, we really try to accommodate those requests and it means we get to keep our amazing people.”

Unsurprisingly, the focus on people – whether that’s customers, co-workers or commercial partners – has earned Rivers an unshakeable reputation among its clients.

“Relationships have become our point of difference,” says Trappett. “We have a lot of long-term clients and it’s because of the close bond they’ve formed with their Rivers staff member. We’ve seen clients through all sorts of changes, we see their businesses grow, we see the next generation take over, that’s what we’re really about – the relationship part of it.”