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Invest in technology, lots of it, and know how to use it

(Insurance Marketing) Permanent link

By Sue Ray
FAIA Communications Director

Ernst & Young is out with its 2016 Global Insurance Outlook for U.S. property and casualty insurers. The report predicts and ranks, on a scale of one to 10, the impact of external forces on the P&C market in 2016, and provides a road map for transformation. It is a must-read.

“Driven by their interactions in other digitally enabled industries, such as retail and banking, property-casualty customers are increasingly demanding a more sophisticated and personalized experience—including digital distribution, anytime access, premiums accurately reflecting usage and individual risk, and higher levels of product customization and advice.”
—2016 US P&C Outlook

The report can be summed up like this: Invest in technology and use it to improve the customer experience. Do it now.

If the report’s advice to carriers sounds familiar, it should, because this very same advice has been doled out to agents for years.

A digital strategy that fully incorporates technology touches almost every aspect of the insurance business:

  • Marketing (social media, website, SEO, digital communications);
  • Distribution (how “paperwork” gets done; hint, it’s not paper work anymore);
  • Customer service (web-based, in real time); and
  • Pricing (collecting and using data to evaluate and inform pricing, and doing so with transparency).

Investments in technology improve back-end operational efficiency, which almost always leads to better customer service. And in the “Internet age,” meeting customers' expectations has never been more important.

Carriers (and agencies) that won’t or can’t meet customer expectations do so at their own peril. You are sadly mistaken if you think Internet-age customer is some kid in his 20s, hardly worth bothering with because he has yet to reach his peak earnings potential.

I am a married, working mother of two who is nearing a milestone birthday (let’s just leave it there)—I am an Internet-age customer. And chances are good that most of you are, too; you just don’t realize it. Many of us are so set in our workplace ways that we don’t realize we’re doing the very things that annoy us about doing business with others.

Do you buy shoes from Zappos? Don’t you just love how easy they make it, how they seem to know what you are looking for the minute you open your browser? How shipping is free—both ways!? Zappos' high level of customer service is built from the ground up on technology; is why its customers are so loyal. Would you love buying shoes from Zappos if when you found the shoe you were looking for, the next step involved printing out a PDF to select the size and color?

Another example: If you have children, doesn’t it drive you crazy when you have to fill out dozens of similar paper forms at the beginning of the school year? Why does every class, after-school activity, and athletic team need a separate form when they are all asking for the same information?

That's so 20th Century, and it’s bad customer service. 

When it comes to school, there aren’t a lot of alternatives (and changing schools based on that alone could be perceived as petty). But there are a lot of alternatives for insurance consumers. If a customer’s online experience is lacking, they will look for, and find, one that is not. 

A customer experience is lacking if it requires customers to:

  • Use a pen
  • Find a stamp
  • Write a paper check
  • Download and print a PDF
  • Use a fax machine (provided they can find one!)
  • Scan and email a document

Alone, none of those things seems like a big hassle. Taken together (as they often are), each step you make a potential customer take is like another tiny orange cone on the road to giving you their business.

Baby steps: This, you can do 

At the very base level, customers expect their emails to be answered. If your agency uses a “contact us” form to collect information from its website, potential clients may be falling through the cracks. Get answers to the following questions as soon as possible:

  • Who receives the information generated through the form?
  • If the information goes to a general e-mailbox (info@myagency.com), who is responsible for checking it? Anyone?
  • Does your agency have a policy for handling inbound email? Such a policy might include how often it should be checked and number of days (it should be minutes) before inquiries are handled.

I have failed to get a response from so many businesses after completing the online form that I don’t fill them out anymore. Don’t be that business. Have a plan, or better yet, list your agency staff on your website and include email addresses and phone numbers.

Get Your Trusted Choice Digital Checkup

(Trusted Choice, Insurance Marketing) Permanent link

Trusted Choice will offer a “digital review” for agents who would like to create or improve their social media outlets and websites.  Agents may request a one-on-one consultation by sending an email with links to their website and social media outlets. The consultation service will include:

  • A 15-30 minute telephone or Skype conversation
  • A written assessment
  • Content services referrals
  • Follow-up conversation

To get your FREE digital review contact Patrice Nickols or Kiescha Cherry

 Digital Checkup 

This Week in Insurance: December 7–11, 2015

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Sheraton Orlando North, Maitland.
  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Board of Governors teleconference, 10:00 a.m. To participate in the call, contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408. 

Friday Morning Live! (Tuesday edition) with Roger Sitkins

(Member News) Permanent link

SitkinsThe insurance industry knows better than most that new opportunities are often born from challenging times. Industry guru Roger Sitkins will join Dave Newell at 9:00 a.m. (ET) on Tuesday, Dec. 15 for a special edition of Friday Morning Live! focused on creating opportunities in these scary, but exciting, times. 

The 30-minute show will touch on building agency value, moving from a commodity-based to a relationship-based agency, adjusting to the changing buyer, differentiating in a crowded marketplace, solving the talent gap, and more. Register.