As the government-mandated lockdown in the UK eases and the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic slowly emerge, “uncertainty” is the word looming over the insurance sector. The question of how consumer behaviours, working practices and communication channels will be affected long-term by the pandemic is of critical concern, and in most instances, only time will tell.
Despite the ‘wait and see’ nature of the situation, however, there is still a great deal that businesses can do to enable their continued success. For Andy Preston (pictured), a sales motivational speaker and sales influencer from Andy Preston Ltd., being able to provide support and advice to organisations around winning business has never been more essential.
Preston, who will be a featured speaker at Insurance Business’s upcoming Insurance Connect event, noted that what people will consider essential purchases will change and a lot of decision making is going to be dramatically different. Nobody knows quite what is going to happen and that has caused probably the biggest disruption to the marketplace in our lifetimes.
“Perhaps not at the same level, but I’m expecting market disruption for the next 12 to 18 months at least, because I think we’ve changed as people because of this experience. And that cannot not have a long-term impact, either positively or negatively depending on what you’re doing,” he said. “But I think there has definitely been a shift in behaviour, some of which will be permanent and some of which will gradually go back to being maybe 90% of what it was 18 months or two years ago.
“This is especially in relation to buying habits and what people choose to spend their money on, both personally and professionally. And, as I’ve said for a number of years, as buying behaviour shifts, and as people change the way that they’re buying, and what they’re buying, we also need to change how we sell to align with that new buying process. Because if we don’t, we end up using that very old sales mentality of trying to force our products or services on to people actually buying in a different way.”
As customer behaviour changes it stands to reason that the service expectations which customers have from their insurance brokers will also change, and Preston highlighted that a lot of this comes down to how brokers are treating their clients during the crisis. Anybody holding people to the letter of the law when it comes to contracts, or refusing any kind of flexibility in terms of payment, is going to find this paid back when it comes to renewal time. They might be legally correct, but people are going to expect more moral and ethical considerations when it comes to their insurance services.
“We’ve been able to defer our mortgage payments or rent, and able to defer our credit card payments because those companies have made that available, so the question is ‘why can’t I defer my insurance? What are you doing to help me?’” he said. “We’re in the biggest pandemic we’ve ever had so what are you doing to help your clients? There’s an expectation of more help and certainly people are going to gravitate towards the people that they feel have been helping them, and away from those who have not.”
The pandemic has created opportunities for brokers and insurance companies to find new ways to support their clients, and has also opened up new markets for brokers to explore going forward. The food retail industry, for instance, is doing very well right now, Preston noted, particularly establishments such as takeaways and, with new sectors like this finding an unexpected windfall of attention, there may be a need for some insurance brokers to start looking at different industries and sectors.
The time may be right for these brokers to start re-engineering their businesses to be fit for a post-coronavirus world. The pandemic has kicked everybody between five to 10 years in the future in terms of embracing digital communication channels. It is the ability to be flexible and adapt that is crucial for businesses looking to navigate their way forward, beyond the lockdown and beyond the pandemic.
To find out more from Andy Preston on how brokers can thrive in a post-coronavirus landscape, sign up for the Insurance Connect event today