Is location the reason clients choose your agency over the competition?
Your geographic location may get you in the game, but no longer is location a competitive advantage for insurance agents.
Because of the Internet.
Because of smartphones.
Because of eSignature.
Because of SSH secure payments.
Because of online policy management.
Because of Google.
But mostly, because insurance consumer expectations have changed. Actually, it’s more than that.
The way today’s digital insurance consumer builds trust has changed.
The Connected Generation consumer doesn’t need to shake your hand to believe you know what you’re talking about. They don’t NEED to look you in the eyes, get a feel for the office, or even hear your voice.
This is how we, as insurance agents, have traditionally built trust. However, those agencies who desire longevity in the digitally connected world would be wise to consider a new paradigm in the “Trusted Advisor” relationship.
Customer Experience Is the New Local
All hope is not lost.
The Connected Generation consumer may no longer need local, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want local.
The modern consumer prioritizes customer experience over local.
Local today is a bonus, or better put, local is the starting point when searching for an insurance provider. But where once, insurance consumers were relegated to only their local insurance providers (due to lack of technology), today these same consumers can reach out to regional, national and even 100 percent virtual agencies to service their insurance needs.
Why do you think so many agencies are located in the center of town?
Our competitive advantage was convenience.
The problem is, what “Convenience” means to the insurance consumer has changed.
There was a time when convenience was judged by how long it took to get to an insurance agency’s office. Today, convenience is gauged using completely different indicators:
- 24/7 Call Center Access
- Online Policy Management
- Mobile Application
- Alternative Communication Methods (i.e text message, live chat).
Convenience will mean something different to each insurance consumer, and its very possible location will still factor into the equation.
As insurance professionals, we cannot make the fatal mistake of assuming “local” is our competitive advantage.
That, my friends, is simply NOT the reality we live in today.
Local Still Works
I am in no way advocating that “Local” does not matter, or that we should give up our place in the local community.
That is NOT the point of this article.
Here at Agency Nation, we believe in local so much that we made Local SEO one of the core strategies we’ll be teaching in 2015. That’s why we created the Complete 2015 Guide to Local SEO for Insurance Agents.
No, local is important. Our place in local communities is what makes the insurance professional such a powerful distribution method.
My worry is that we, as an industry, are using “Local” as a crutch for not implementing the marketing and customer experience strategies and processes that the Connected Generation consumer demands.
I want you to consider this post as a warning, like an Insurance Lorax.
If we rely on what served as our competitive advantage ten years ago, we won’t be in business ten years from now.
The Connected Generation consumer doesn’t NEED a local provider. If they did, GEICO and Esurance wouldn’t exist. Except that GEICO and Esurance do exist, and are doing quite well.
It’s our job in 2015, by harnessing the power of Local SEO and creating an incredible customer experience, to make insurance consumers WANT a local provider.
Are you with me?
Thank you and good luck,
I am Ryan Hanley
How have you leveraged “Local” to grow your business? Does “Local” still matter to today’s insurance consumer? Are personal lines and commercial different in valuing a “Local” agent?
Share in the comments…