Does my agent understand my particular risks? Will they make sure my coverage doesn’t lapse? Are they thinking about my account regularly, or only when it’s time to renew?
These are common questions insurance customers think about. So it’s part of every agent’s job to demonstrate an appropriate level of personal attentiveness and diligence regularly. That’s where digital technologies can help.
The central objective of any agent/client relationship: continuous worry-free insurance. Strong relationships are built on a level of trust. While most agents are accustomed to fostering strong customer connections through in-person interactions, building and growing digital relationships is a whole new world.
More customers are taking their insurance shopping online. On TrustedChoice.com’s own platform we’re seeing a record number of consumers shopping for insurance online, and we doubled the number of agency recommendations we provided in 2021 compared to the year before. But too often, digital relationships have been whittled down to websites and online quote requests. Lasting online connections are more complex. From prospecting to buying to renewing insurance, embracing more creative forms of digital will enhance the agent-client relationship.
Three Phases of a Digital Relationship
The digital relationship can be broken down into three phases: the customer acquisition phase; the customer nurturing phase; and the customer renewal and retention phase.
The customer acquisition phase traditionally has been given a lot of attention. It is how agents attract new customers. To do so successfully online, agents need to have a strong digital footprint that includes search engine optimization (SEO), a well-designed interactive website, and online customer reviews. Agents also need to be responsive in internet time. This means that once a prospect contacts the agency, someone responds almost immediately letting the prospect know the request has been received and is being worked on.
When a new customer finds the agency and engages with them, it’s a transaction, not a digital relationship — yet.
Next comes the digital nurturing phase, a vital part of the process when trust is established. Nurturing involves personalized communications with the customer to show genuine understanding and ongoing custodial concern for the customer’s risk situation.
Finally, there is the renewal and retention phase. After an agent establishes trust with a customer, they need to do more than just reach out to that customer once a year with a renewal invoice. Agents need to check in regularly to make sure their client’s risks haven’t changed, to share relevant tips and best practices, and to provide updates on how the insurance portfolio is being managed.
One-on-One Personal Interaction in Digital Form
To master each phase of the digital relationship, agents need to combine technology with the same one-on-one personal interaction that is the hallmark of the independent agent experience.
A good website and Facebook page are not enough. These assets will help agents get found online, but once located they still need to talk with the client — via phone, text or email — and promptly respond to all requests. Agents should encourage customers to leave online reviews, which both help prospects get more background on the agency and help boost an agency’s SEO.
Strong digital relationships require phone communication — voice-to-voice or texting — and email. Being responsive and communicating with clients the way they prefer is a must. When the phone rings, make sure someone answers it and directs the customer to an available agent. Have a process so that online inquiries are responded to within minutes, not hours.
Nurturing requires regular communication between the agent and customer. Outreach should be customized to meet the customer’s needs. This doesn’t mean that agents must reach out individually to each customer. Email automation platforms enable agents to program messages and have customization fields that can personalize messages for each customer.
Progress during the customer nurturing phase will trickle down and improve the digital relationship during the renewal and retention phase.
Insurance customers don’t want to hear from their agent only at the time of renewal. Ongoing communication and regular check-ins are opportunities for agents to demonstrate their value.
A strong digital relationship focuses on building and reinforcing trust. It extends throughout the entire client lifecycle.
Article By: Chip Bacciocco
Source: Insurance Journal