Remember when the idea of marketing your insurance agency online was crazy?

I’ve heard all the excuses…

“We’re a smile and handshake business.”

“Everything we do is about relationships.”

“The insurance industry is different.”

“People want to buy insurance from someone they trust, not a faceless website.”

“We don’t want that type of client.”

Wow, how the times have changed.

From GEICO, to Google Compare Auto Insurance, to Insureon, to Coverhound, to The Zebra, to Policy Genius, to every other business school graduate who thinks they’re a smarter marketer than independent insurance agents, the case has been proven that insurance buyers are willing to go online for their insurance needs.

These Digital Disruptors are capitalizing on the cultural change happening in our society.

Consumers (of every industry) are now willing to communicate, build relationships and make buying decisions online. I call these people The Connected Generation.

Digital Disruptors have let go of the way business has always been done, in exchange for a better customer experience. The modern insurance consumer demands a better customer experience.

The Disconnect Between Independent Agents and Modern Insurance Consumers

Here is what the independent agent believes should be important in the insurance buying process:

  • Correct coverage
  • Relationship
  • Communication on their terms

The relationship is first, then comes the transaction.

Here is what the modern insurance consumer believes is important in the insurance buying process:

  • Ease of business
  • Price
  • Trustworthiness
  • Communication on their terms.

The transaction is first, then comes the relationship.

See the difference?

The modern insurance consumer needs insurance and doesn’t want to take the time to build a strong relationship before they purchase. That doesn’t they’re a price shopper or that they don’t want a relationship.

But rather they want the relationship on their own terms.

This is an idea independent agents have struggled to adopt.

The Idea Adoption Curve and Why it Might be Too Far Behind

The image above is courtesy of the great Seth Godin and his blog post: How Idea Adoption works the Idea Progression.

The premise Seth’s post: every idea starts out on the left, only fringe members of any community believe in and adopt the idea.

As these early adopters experience success the idea moves from fringe to risky, from risky to new and so on across the idea adoption cycle.

The vast majority experiences in the modern consumer’s life have been digitized.

From banking, to taxes, to retail, the customer experience is focused on ease of business, speed of business, access to information, competitive pricing and on-demand communication.

In most industries, the digitized customer experience has reached the “Always” phase of the idea adoption curve.

Yet, for the independent insurance industry we’re still questioning the importance of these basic principles.

Why?

Why would we continue to question and drag our feet when so many others, (so called Digital Disruptors), are building businesses based on these principles with success?

The truth is, in terms of customer experience, we’re falling behind.

Every year, for the last three years, more insurance consumers than ever before have shopped their insurance.

Would this be true if our clients were satisfied with the experience we are providing them?

No.

We’re falling behind our competition… and if we don’t take action we’ll soon be too far behind.

5 Actions to Catch Up

1) Update Your Website

The modern insurance consumer journey starts online, most often with a Google search. What will an insurance buyer researching new agents think when they hit your website?

Your website doesn’t need to be flashy or complex. Instead think clean, professional and easy to navigate. To the modern insurance consumer websites are a direct reflection of business quality.

Are you proud of the story your website tells about your agency?

2) Train Your Staff to Handle Inbound Leads

Did you know that 40% of referral calls through TrustedChoice.com that hit a phone drop without ever talking to a human?

Do you know who is responsible for handling unsolicited inbound lead opportunities?

Do you have a process in place to respond promptly to inbound lead opportunities?

Unsolicited inbound leads are different from referrals. These individuals have chosen your agency, but that doesn’t mean they’ll give you the same leeway as a standard referral. They expect prompt service, clear communication and smooth workflow.

If your agency has not created a dedicated process (and team) for handling unsolicited inbound leads you are ABSOLUTELY losing business today.

3) E-Signature and Technology Upgrades

Have you made the necessary technology upgrades to provide the modern insurance consumer with an enhanced customer experience?

This means e-signature options, mobile applications (like the Go Insurance Agent App), VOIP phone systems, cloud-based management systems, customer relationship building software (like Rocket Referrals), digital education tools (like Clickable Coverage), and the list goes on.

The point is, over the last ten years tools and resources have hit the market at affordable rates which can help drastically increase the customer experience provided at the agency level.

To catch up we must take advantage of the tools at our disposal.

4) Train and Encourage Your Staff

The young agents of today could not build their own agency the same way today, that successful agency principals built their own agencies of the last 30 years.

The industry has changed…

The insurance buyer has changed…

The world has changed…

There is no discounting the methods and philosophy upon which our great industry was built, but we can no longer afford to dismiss the reality that these same methods now have a diminished return.

We must now empower ourselves and agency staff to seek out new methods of attracting, influencing, capturing and retaining new business.

Encourage your staff to learn and test new tools, tactics and strategies to find your target client in today’s marketplace.

5) Find Additional Lead Sources

TrustedChoice.com gives independent insurance agents an additional opportunity to showcase their agency. It’s not the only lead generation platform which exists in the market, but it is the only platform focused solely on the independent insurance agent.

TrustedChoice.com has over 3,500 website pages, visited by more 250,000 people a month, dedicated to educating insurance buyers on proper insurance coverage and the value of an independent insurance agent. In August more 7,000 of those people contacted TrustedChoice.com Advantage Subscriber agencies about their insurance.

I believe in this product and what it can do long-term for the agents and carriers who take advantage of it.

Click here to learn more about the TrustedChoice.com Advantage Profile.

The Rub

Prioritize customer service over customer experience and you’re already a commodity.

We need to move customer experience, specifically the digital customer experience, further down the idea adoption curve and this must happen rapidly.

The time has come for our industry to stop questioning the validity of the digital marketplace and begin working on making it an synchronous part of everyday business.

Where are you on Seth Godin’s idea adoption curve? How do move our industry further along?

Let’s discuss in the comment below…

Thank you and good luck,

Ryan Hanley

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