A recent J.D. Power study found that insurance companies were failing to meet customers’ expectations when it comes to digital interactions, even as many companies are getting better at bringing digital offerings to the table.
Agents and brokers have also missed the boat when it comes to offering their clients tools that will improve their insurance-buying experience.
“There are carriers as well as online aggregators and direct agencies that are investing in the technology to have an online digital experience for their clients, and agents today are missing that because they might have a website, but they don’t have the ability to get a quote on their website, or their website isn’t integrated with their automated marketing system,” said Laird Rixford, CEO at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). “Right now, consumers are looking for ease of doing business and transparency. They want to know that the agency or the carrier or whoever they’re getting an insurance quote from is providing them the broadest sense of transparency.”
Because the value proposition of agents and brokers is that they can offer quotes from more than one insurance carrier, they can easily be transparent with their clients, communicating to them that they’ve shopped around to five or 10 different carriers, and that this is the right price for the policy that they need.
“That’s a very powerful, transparent message that can be communicated to the consumer from the agency, and agencies are not leveraging that through the digital solutions that they can get from their insurance technology providers,” said Rixford.
After offering that transparency, brokers and agents then need to properly communicate with their clients throughout the lifecycle of an insurance policy.
“If consumers are always having to chase their insurance agency to get them a quote or to follow up on a quote, and the agent is not being proactive, then that consumer is going to look elsewhere,” explained Rixford. “Agents today don’t have time to do the old school nurturing of the social relationship as they used to do back in the past, and consumers today don’t want that whole ‘give me a call 15 or 20 times to try to engage me about my insurance.’ They want alternative methods, such as email, text message, and online, to interact with their agents.”
Brokers and agents can create a better experience for their clients by making sure they have a website that acts as a landing page for all of their marketing. Whether it’s advertising on the radio or television, in a newspaper or the Yellow Pages, or by phone, business card, or social media, all of that can connect back to a website.
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“That’s where [customers] are going to be educated about the insurance-buying experience and that’s where you draw them into your agency. You can do that by offering not only transparency in research and what insurance is all about by giving them the educational tools, but also giving them a way to get a quote directly online through an online consumer rating platform where they can receive multiple quotes from your insurance agency’s carriers,” said Rixford, adding that once that happens, the agency marketing system can notify producers on when to reach out to consumers, who in turn get emails, text messages, and links to articles that touch on the coverage they’re interested in – all because of one interaction on the agency’s website.
However, it’s important to note that these digital tools aren’t magic bullets. Some agents might think they can set up a website with a comparative rating platform and agency marketing system behind it, and the leads will close themselves.
“That’s not the reality. You need to have a plan of ‘what am I expecting from this?’ and this really is a function of the agency’s marketing and business plan,” said Rixford. “It takes work, and where they can overcome this is by having a plan, and continually updating that plan to use those technologies to their fullest abilities.”