Well over half of all Americans now have a smartphone. This may come to no surprise, considering all your peers are toting them around. But this number spans across the entire demographic of the country. Your colleagues, cousin Bob, that guy who walks his dog real early in your neighborhood, etc. Geesh, even kids are glued to these things rather than playing kick-the-can or hopscotch.
My point? Our culture has gone digital. Rather than saying ‘hello’ in elevators, we browse through our apps. If we get lonely we can just ask Siri what she’s up to. And perhaps now more than ever people do get lonely – because humans never stopped needing meaningful contact.
But this post isn’t about how we need to put our phones down and sing kumbaya around a campfire. In fact, I welcome the digital revolution. With it brings many opportunities to stand out – that is, if you do it right. When it comes to insurance, agents hold the upper-ground when it comes to shining in the Digital Age.
This is due to their unique position to develop personal relationships with their clients. No matter how much they try, the direct providers cannot connect with their clients on this level. That is why they compete on price, marketing, and fancy websites.
And don’t get me wrong – marketing, price, and websites are important. Successful agents will ensure they are competitive and in touch with technology. But, when it comes to customer retention and acquiring new clients, insurance agents shouldn’t fight the conventional war with direct providers. They just don’t have the marketing firepower to do so.
The alternative for insurance agents?
Take some of the communication offline – where it will really make an impact on clients. I’m not suggesting going back to paper invoices or sending telegrams (though that would stand out). I’m talking about sending some personalized notes to clients – at least a couple of times a year.
Let’s dig into the ‘science’ for a minute, to see why this is effective. A 2014 study by the Bain & Company regarding customer loyalty in the P&C and life insurance market indicated that “being in touch regularly and in meaningful ways with customers builds loyalty both in P&C and life”. Also, a recent study by the New York Times claims that an average of 65% of new business comes from referrals.
Customer loyalty is defined at referrals, retention, and repeat business. Sounds good, eh? Here is where agents can go wrong – outside of handling claims, most are not able to stay on top of providing meaningful communication with their clients. They just don’t have the time to do so. Agents know what I’m talking about – early on in their career, they treat every client like it’s their only one.
They make them feel like a million bucks – and it pays off with referrals. Yet, with the influx of new clients comes “critical mass”. The hours of the day are consumed by running the agency and meaningful communication falls by the wayside.
Wait. Go analog?
Those personalized notes that I mentioned earlier are a very effective way of inspiring clients to stick with an agent and refer friends. But don’t think that all it takes is putting pen to paper to get the desired effect. The content is what really matters.
Handwritten notes should have a sincere message – thanking them for their loyalty, welcoming to the agency, etc. If the message is “salesy” it backfires. Keeping it classy, with no strings attached, will have a much more meaningful impact.
You don’t think Flo is sending out handwritten notes on behalf of Progressive, do you? Nope. Direct providers don’t have the ability to strike the emotional chord as actual insurance agents can. Now begs the question of automation. Again, agents just don’t have the time to send hundreds of handwritten notes a year – regardless of the obvious ROI.
That is why we developed unparalleled handwriting technology and handle the targeting and fulfillment for insurance agencies. It’s much easier for an agent to turn the dial on a referral strategy than suffer from writer’s cramp. It’s a little ironic when you think about it though. Using technology to break through the noise of the digital culture.
It’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most. -Zac Brown Band
If you’re ready to automate those meaningful personalized communications, book a demo with our team today.