Times are tough, many things cost more. Replacement costs are rising, supply chain issues are slowing claims resolution, and premiums are increasing. Insurance agencies have a challenge on their hands, facing many concerns from customers. 

More frequent and effective communications strategies don’t solve the issues, but they can go a long way towards creating stronger, long-term customer relationships. For example, customers want to understand how the economy is impacting their policies. And even if customers aren’t proactively calling, agents can reach out. Jordan Burns, owner and CEO of Beyond Insurance Group said, “Most people aren’t focused on the insurance industry, they’re focused on their policies. If they see a significant premium increase at renewal, but haven’t made a claim, they will have questions. Without an agent walking them through the changes, they are left wondering what happened.”

In inflationary times, clients can be price-driven and more willing to switch accounts. Strong relationships are more important than ever. Elijeana King-Thompson, President, Chaisteli Insurance Group explained, “The foundation of the agency has always been customer relationships. To thrive, agencies need to have conversations, talking clients through the policies and increases. Ultimately it is all hands on deck to see how the agency can help the customer and where there might be savings.”

Openness is one of the best approaches agents can take. Gerald Grinter, Marketing Director & Business Development, Threshold, Nosh and Dwell advised, “Transparency is the bottom line. Customers don’t want to feel like they are being given the end-around. Agents need to acknowledge that rates have gone up, and then show their customers all the work they have done to make sure they’re getting the best coverage at the best price possible.”

Technology can help agents retain their customers and even acquire new ones during these uncertain times. That’s where digital solutions come in:

1. Inflation is stressful. Knowledge is power. 

Education can be the best defense against inflation-driven increases. But one-on-one conversations can be time consuming and not practical for some operations. Mass communication tools can make it faster and easier to share information. Elijeana King-Thompson explained, “We are proactive with clients by phone, email and social media. All updates and relevant information are on our website. We host free Zoom webinars for insureds that review pain points and what people can expect in this current environment. On social media we not only share information but also answer questions from our followers.”

Automated email platforms enable agents to send out communications to many customers with a click of a button. If you are getting the same questions over and over again, create short FAQ videos and post them on Facebook or YouTube to get the story out to your whole audience. 

Webinars can help you talk to several customers at once, including providing answers to their questions. Some customers may respond better to phone outreach. If that’s the case, you can explore platforms that enable you to send voicemails to customers all at once. 

2. Better, faster information access is #1.

Agent workloads are exploding. They’re reviewing accounts for possible savings while also making sure clients have appropriate coverage. Some accounts may need to be remarketed for different coverage, which also takes time. Other agencies are facing huge influxes of shoppers looking for coverage, a good problem to have. Automating manual processes is vital.

Quoting solutions enable agents to obtain multiple quotes with one submission. Artificial intelligence tools can review a book of business and identify opportunities, such as customers who can benefit from bundling. 

Since changes to a client’s circumstances can impact policy prices, utilize solutions that make it as easy as possible for customers to update you on changes. Burns shared, “The most up-to-date information from our clients enables us to get them the best rates possible. We use a Technology solution that  allows us to make short, user friendly surveys for our clients to complete. We ask about things they might not remember to tell us such as if they refinished their basement or bought a dog. It takes them five minutes, they can do it on their phone, and we get what we need to then identify any discounts or bundling opportunities.”

3. Paving the path to Tech for your clients

Are your customers using electronic funds transfer to pay their premiums? Have they gone paperless? If not, they could be missing out on discounts. Talk to them about these tools and the benefits, both the experience and savings. 

It could also be a good time to revisit other technologies, such as telematics. Customers may have rejected these in the past, but the new environment is different for many. Be prepared to address concerns. Talk about the information that is being collected and how it is being used. Also help them put it into perspective – such as using telematics is no more invasive than using a smartphone.

Technology can not only help you better serve customers during this difficult economic time, but it also presents avenues for growth. According to Grinter, “When agents embrace Technology, it’s a golden opportunity to show customers that we’re not only easy to work with, but provide more value. We often have access to more companies than if they’re shopping on their own. And with a click of a button, we can deliver several quotes and have the expertise to help the client really understand their options.” 

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