Even as the industry becomes more digitized, insurance agents and carriers still must communicate effectively with clients.Selling a complicated product like insurance can be a challenge for both agents and providers, which makes effective communication with prospects and clients even more vital. That was the message delivered by a panel of executives at the recent InsureTech Connect Conference and summarized in Insurance Journal.
Guy Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of startup Next Insurance, told attendees that if they aim to sell insurance to small businesses, they must tailor their pitch to each individual small business. In other words, agents and carriers should personalize the insurance policy for the specific risks of the business, whether it be a restaurant or a yoga studio, and explain it in language that the client understands.
Rusty Sproat, Founder of Figo Pet Insurance, takes a slightly different tactic. Rather than overwhelming prospects and clients with reams of insurance information, he said he fills his site with pet management techniques, hoping to lure buyers by more subtle means. “If you can sell insurance and not talk about insurance, it’s a win-win,” Sproat said.
Several of the speakers emphasized cross-selling and value-add opportunities as a way to successfully sell insurance — even if those services are non-insurance related. AIG Personal Insurance CEO Gaurav Garg said that since his high-end clients want products that manage their risks, they may want to combine an insurance policy with something like an art restoration service. “Focus on how to keep the customer safe,” he advised.
Likewise, American Family Insurance’s Chief Marketing Officer Telisa Yancy talked about her firm’s partnership with home security provider Ring.com. Mariel Devesa, Farmers Insurance Head of Corporate Development and Innovation, agreed that some clients may want add-on services, but she echoed Goldstein’s assertion about the importance of personalized service, and added that agents and carriers must also create more touchpoints with clients.
Increasingly, small businesses want those touchpoints to be through a self-service platform. A recent J.D. Power survey revealed that the percentage of small business owners who are comfortable with self-service grew from 48% in 2015 to 61% in 2017. Only 43%, however, said that they actually used a self-service insurance platforms.
Next Insurance targets small businesses like personal trainers by offering its insurance through a chatbot on Facebook Messenger and other self-service tools that permit clients to cancel a policy with no penalty, add an insured to a contract, or obtain proof of insurance — all with a few clicks. By enabling clients to accomplish these simple tasks on their own, Goldstein said that the insurance industry can improve its customer service.
How to Communicate
Chatbots and self-service engines may be the future of insurance sales, but agents and carriers still need to communicate with clients. A 2015 survey of small business by Deloitte revealed that 61% of respondents had no contact with an agent beyond the initial shopping experience. As the insurance buying process becomes more direct and digitized, agents still have a role to play in the process, and that means fostering deeper client connections through better communication.
Never Use Jargon. Speaking in overly technical terms tends to dissuade clients from buying. Instead, agents should phrase complex insurance information in language a non-insurance expert would understand.
Sell Knowledge. Insurance agents aren’t just selling a policy. They’re selling their expertise. Agents who uncover and explain risks the client may not have considered and then recommend insurance products to mitigate those hazards convey their worth beyond just completing a sale.
Make it Memorable. Agents and carriers might believe that they communicate frequently with clients, yet an Ernst & Young 2014 survey found that 44% of insurance customers reported no interactions within the previous 18 months. That may be because the agent didn’t communicate regularly, or what was sent failed to grab the client’s attention. Considering clients are overwhelmed with emails and other marketing pitches daily, it’s not surprising many outreach bids are easily dismissed. To stand out, agents and carriers should strive to make their communications — whether in emails or texts or personal visits — memorable by using clear, straightforward language that relates to the client’s circumstances.