For decades, insurance agents were able to operate the same because for a very long time the needs of their customers never changed. But since the mid 2000s, the Internet, smartphones and social media have caused customers to think about insurance much differently. What’s surprising is that most insurance agents haven’t changed along with technology, and now many agents seem outdated and out of touch with their customers. Since insurance customers now have different expectations, it’s important to know what they want and how to respond to their new needs.
A recent insurance industry study that looked at customers’ expectations when dealing with insurance agents found that technology has created a highly competitive environment, and that customers are looking for genuine information and great customer service. Specifically, the study found that the following factors influence customer choice the most:
- The changing economy
- Less free time
- Lower disposable income
- The convenience and breadth of information available on the internet
Although one would think that price is the leading factor of any customer’s decision making, it’s not. Price is certainly part of the equation, but trends are showing that since customers have the internet at their disposal to do side-by-side comparison shopping within similar price brackets, value-adds like technology integration and great customer service are what drives customers to buy. Also, online reviews and social media have a big impact on how a customer thinks about a brand before they buy, so agents who put a good deal of effort into customer service, social media and online review sites have a much better brand authority than those that don’t.
How to update your services to fit your customers’ needs
Comparison shopping online has become so common that insurance agents can’t get away with simply advertising lower prices. Any given insurance agent will be shown next to other agents who are priced just as competitively, and quality of service is what sets those companies apart. If you want to stand out to new customers and keep existing customers happy, the two biggest things to focus on are great customer service (read: transparent customer service), and technology integration.
- Seamlessly integrate existing channels with online. Insurance customers get more and more technology savvy by the minute, and chances are they found their insurance agent online or through a mobile app. Therefore, they expect their agents to be technologically savvy. This includes things like offering online & mobile payment options, chat or text support, online review systems, and heavy engagement in social media.
- Customer service and brand equity is most important. Customers these days are very jaded, and insurance customers almost expect to be let down by their insurance agents. That’s why really great customer service is paramount. Unhappy customers have the power of the Internet to broadcast their discontent which will deter future customers. By being responsive with communication, transparent with your intentions, and honest with your word, you can win your customers over and turn them into loyal fans.
- Reward good customers. Offering perks to good customers is a great way to foster loyalty and retention. By setting up systems to reward customers that pay their bills on time, or take part in social media surveys, you can show your customers that you’re just as invested in them as they are in you.
Technology has changed the way your customers think, make decisions, and shop. By showing customers that you can keep up with the technology they interface with the most, and offer them honest, transparent, excellent service, you’ll win them over for life. Lowering prices is not always the best way to attract more customers and keep the ones you have – sometimes people are willing to pay a bit more to have an insurance agent that they can trust.