The insurance agent is your trusted advisor

Posted on August 4, 2017 by Mathijs Brand

A great product is no longer sufficient to guarantee strong sales and loyal customers. Today’s empowered consumers not only reject corporate irresponsibility but also seek brands that proactively promote beliefs and values aligned with their own. In fact, some 52% of US consumers factor values into their purchase choices Forrester - The Power of an Online Strategy
 
Customer engagement, customer empowerment and closer trust relationships are hot insurance tech topics. Many insurance board rooms have lately shifted from simply selling insurances towards a focus on a strong customer relationship through prevention and advise. While the minds have changed, many still struggle how to implement this new approach.
 
"Should I confront all my existing customers with a brand new app?"
"What if we trigger our customers in the wrong way, a sleeping customer is a happy customer."
"Where does the insurance agent fit in? Wouldn't they be angry if we have a direct relationship with customers?".
 
New companies with a clear online focus are starting up... so if you don't start onboarding your customers now, you will cease to exist in the next two to three years. In this blog post we offer some thoughts to get a win-win relationship with your insurance agents by creating a better relationship with your customers.
When consumers don't get insights, they will be frustrated, with or without an agent
Consumers have changed their ways. When you go to a doctor, you don't sit and wait anymore to hear what is to be done. You do research in advance, hear the opinion from your doctor and then make up your own mind. The advisor - in this case the doctor - provides the pro's and con's, you make the informed decision. Why is insurance any different? When you choose your life insurance or health insurance, you first want to get basic information. And almost anyone wants a trusted advisor to validate and help with bigger-than-life choices like a life insurance, investment or mortgage. Some like this back-and-forth for home insurance or car insurance as well. An agent helps you make better decisions. 
 
An insurance agent is a trusted advisor, not the person giving you basic information
The mobile app or website is just a tool, not a person. The insurance agent is not a tool. It's not an either or thing between the insurance agent and an online direct relationship with your customers. It's a win-win. When customers gain information, they will have more questions. An agent can help you them out with these questions. Customers appreciate this open relationship and agents remain at the center of the relationship. If the agent is just a tool to provide basic information, the consumer will switch to something else easily.
 
Consumers don't trust offline companies anymore
How can you trust an agent that is working for a company that does not provide any insight or basic information? When you start out from with an online relationship with your customers, it becomes easier to have a trusted conversation with your agent. 
 
Financial products are complex, agents are here to stay
Most financial products are complex. You like to trust someone who can see through the maze. This need is strong. Even if the information and online relationship improves with an insurance company, the need for a trusted advisor remains.  
 
Most of my customers are non-millennials
Elderly people use mobile apps and the internet too. And specifically elderly people value meaning over money. They want advise from an agent, but they also know how to get information. If you don't provide information in a convenient modern way, the agent will start many conversations with a lot of distrust. Not a great place to start...
 
A customer meeting with an agent must not be wasted filling out forms
Customers do not appreciate valuable conultancy time to be wasted on filling out long forms. If you waste 15 minutes in an hour meeting, you're doing a bad job. Naturally, you can overcome anything, but wouldn't it be better if the focus on the relationship and advise? 

Let Onegini answer that last question for you: 
Yes, it would be better if the relationship between consumer and agent is strong, focussed on advise and trust from the agent, empowering the consumer. Online is not a threat, but an enabler in this strategy. Agents should welcome the direct relationship!
 
Curious to see what other insurance industry challenges and how to meet the new customer needs? Download the free whitepaper below.
White paper: Digital Transformation Insurance Companies