These are dark times. All eyes are fixed on the war between Russia and Ukraine. It is a conflict that has pulsed under the surface like a slowly ticking time bomb ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. But on February 24, 2022, that time bomb exploded when Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, triggering a war that the rest of the world has reacted to with shock, anger, and condemnation.
News of modern warfare is almost impossible to digest at the best of times, but this conflict has erupted at a time when the world is licking its wounds from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past two months, there was a brief glimmer of hope when more and more countries started to remove their pandemic restrictions and get back to some semblance of normality. But that hope came crashing down with this painful reminder of war and human suffering.
It’s times like these – when the news cycle goes from bad to worse, and it’s easy to despair at the state of the world – that insurance brokers and agents must do what they do best. They must go back to basics, check-in with clients, and be personal.
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Now is not the time to hide behind computer screens under the guise of remote work; it’s not the time to send a quick but emotionless text message to your clients; it’s not the time to disappear within the brand-new insurance app that your brokerage or agency spent a pile of money on during the pandemic.
It’s time to reach out and ask your clients – human being to human being – how they’re doing. So many people around the world have struggled, both physically and mentally, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some hid their struggles behind a fake smile on their daily work calls, but once their laptop lids were firmly closed, they let the darkness roll in. Others were open about their struggles, but perhaps did not have access to the right support system. Many are grieving lost loved ones and are yearning for the pre-pandemic days.
I’m by no means suggesting that insurance brokers and agents have all the answers. You’re not therapists. You’re not trained to give people physical or mental health advice. But you are there to provide a personal financial service, at the crux of which is a relationship built upon honest communication and trust.
Whether you’re concerned about the impacts of COVID-19, or the stress of the war in Ukraine, or any other soul-shattering event like a natural catastrophe, a business breakdown, or something individual like a house fire or a fatal car crash, it’s time for brokers and agents to reach out and ask: ‘Hi, how are you?’
In doing so, not only will you rekindle personal relationships of the pre-pandemic days (if they were lost in the two-years of technology overdrive) but you’ll also get the chance to rebuild your position as a trusted advisor in your community, and an opportunity to remind clients what you stand for, what you believe in, and how you’re willing to use your position to make positive change.
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Reaching out and ‘getting personal’ with clients will also give you the opportunity to find out what’s changed in your clients’ lives. What are their new priorities now that the pandemic is (hopefully) close to an end? How have their coverage needs changed? Have they made any big investments throughout the pandemic, or experienced any significant moments like marriage or the birth of a child? What are they looking for from a broker partner? What type of service do they want from you, and how personal do they want to get?
I make these comments because the stories that always strike me and stay with me from news coverage of international conflicts or major catastrophic events are the ones involving people. In the past week, my focus has been drawn to the brave citizens of Ukraine fighting for their freedom, and the countless others worldwide standing up for peace.
It is a reminder of the strength of humanity, and what we can achieve if we work together and support each other. In the case of insurance brokers and agents going about their daily business, this may seem like a far-fetched connection, but everything starts with a simple and humane: ‘Hi, how are you?’