[Blog] Not Your Father’s Insurance Agency

blog Jun 12, 2024

Bradley Flowers

In the nostalgic old-school days, insurance transactions were a social affair. People would stop by the insurance office to pay their bill, chat with their agent, enjoy a cup of coffee and casually waste about 30 to 45 minutes of their time, as well as their agent's. While this traditional model of insurance agencies still exists in certain pockets of the world, I believe that retail insurance agents are poised for a different approach in the future if we want to stay in the game.

The rise of companies like GEICO, Progressive, Lemonade and others has compelled the insurance industry to adapt and innovate. While retail insurance agents hold the advantage with their relationships, access to carriers and community involvement, they must embrace change and learn from the success of tech giants like Amazon. This article explores the evolving landscape of insurance agencies and highlights key strategies for modernization.

Text messaging as the primary communication channel

Insurance agents should prioritize text messaging as the primary form of communication for addressing common issues, answering questions and resolving concerns. Implementing this change is remarkably easy, but the benefits are significant.

By embracing text messaging as a communication channel, insurance agencies can streamline their operations and provide a more convenient experience for customers. Once customers become accustomed to texting their agent, the workload on your staff decreases substantially. This is because customers no longer need to call the office for routine tasks like updating their auto policy or requesting an ID card. Instead, they can simply send a text message. This not only saves time but also allows the task to be assigned to the most appropriate staff member, thereby optimizing efficiency.

Instead of spending valuable time on administrative tasks, agents can focus on providing advice and guidance to clients facing emergencies or accidents. Text messaging allows for quick and efficient communication in urgent situations, ensuring that customers receive the support they need promptly.

At our agency, we have perfected the art of onboarding new customers through automated text messages. These messages not only express gratitude for their business but also introduce key staff members, provide links to our mobile app and encourage customers to leave five-star Google reviews. By onboarding every customer in the same manner, we can anticipate their needs and address potential issues proactively rather than reactively.

Text messaging also offers a personalized touch to customer interactions. Agents can send customized messages tailored to each customer's specific needs, providing a more personalized and attentive service. Whether it's sending policy updates, renewal reminders or claims status updates, text messages can keep customers informed and engaged with their insurance coverage.

Moreover, text messaging has become the preferred mode of communication for most people nowadays, regardless of age. Surprisingly, this preference for texting transcends age groups, as even older customers, such as grandparents and baby boomers, prefer to text us. It's a convenient and familiar mode of communication that fits into people's busy lives and allows for quick and efficient interactions.

By incorporating text messaging into the insurance agency's communication strategy, agents can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. It provides a convenient, efficient and personalized way to address customer needs while freeing up time for agents to focus on more complex and valuable tasks.

Harnessing the power of mobile apps

Introducing a mobile app for your insurance agency is a game-changer in today's digital age. With the widespread use of smartphones, having a mobile app allows insurance agencies to stay connected with customers, provide convenient access to services and enhance the overall customer experience.

A well-designed mobile app serves as a one-stop solution for customers to manage their insurance policies, access important documents and initiate claims. By offering these functionalities through a mobile app, insurance agencies empower their customers with self-service capabilities, reducing the need for manual intervention and streamlining processes.

One of the key benefits of a mobile app is the convenience it offers. Customers can easily access their insurance policies at any time, review coverage details and make necessary updates directly from their smartphones. This eliminates the need for lengthy phone calls or visits to the office, saving both the customers and the agency valuable time.

Moreover, a mobile app enables customers to upload and submit documents, such as accident photos or proof of repairs, when filing a claim. This expedites the claims process by eliminating the need for physical document submissions, reducing paperwork and accelerating the overall claims settlement time.

In addition to policy management and claims processing, a mobile app can provide customers with valuable tools and resources. For instance, it can include features like a virtual insurance card that allows customers to access their policy information without carrying a physical card. This feature not only enhances convenience but also reduces the risk of losing important documents.

Another valuable feature of a mobile app is the ability to receive personalized notifications and alerts. Customers can opt-in to receive notifications regarding policy renewals, payment reminders or important updates from their insurance agency. These proactive notifications keep customers informed and engaged, ensuring they never miss critical deadlines or policy changes.

Furthermore, a mobile app can incorporate additional functionalities such as roadside assistance requests, appointment scheduling and access to a network of preferred service providers. These features provide added value to customers, making their insurance experience more comprehensive and convenient.

Cultivating a progressive work culture

Creating a strong and positive organizational culture is crucial for insurance agencies to thrive in today's competitive landscape. A vibrant culture fosters employee engagement, enhances productivity and promotes a sense of belonging among team members.

Building a culture starts with a clear vision and mission statement that reflects the agency's core values and purpose. These guiding principles serve as a compass, aligning employees towards common goals and shaping their behaviors and decision-making processes. When employees understand and embrace the agency's values, it creates a strong foundation for a cohesive and purpose-driven culture.

For example, our core values at Portal Insurance are:

We care.

We take massive action.

We always play the long game.

We give more value than we take.

Everything thing we do, from interacting with customers, hiring, training and operations are run through our core values. I encourage you if you don’t have core values in your org to sit down with your team and come up with three to four core values that you all collectively agree to operate under.

Additionally, promoting work-life balance is crucial in sustaining a healthy and positive culture. Encouraging flexible work arrangements, promoting employee wellness programs and offering benefits that prioritize well-being contribute to a more engaged and satisfied workforce. When employees feel valued and supported in managing their personal and professional lives, it leads to higher job satisfaction and increased productivity.

Embracing a flexible work schedule and outcome-oriented management is vital for the future success of insurance agencies. Rather than fixating on employees' physical presence in the office from eight to five, agencies should prioritize results and team collaboration.

I will never forget when COVID-19 started and everyone was sent home, I had an agency owner call me and ask, “How do I ensure my employees are truly working when they are working from home?”

My answer was simple: “Are they a good teammate and are they getting their job done?”

Those should be the only two metrics we judge an employee’s performance by. One: Are they a good teammate? Two: Are they getting their job done? Who cares if they are working 40 hours?

Allowing employees to manage their time efficiently, attend personal commitments and still meet job responsibilities fosters a happier and more productive workforce. By promoting a positive work culture that values work-life balance, agencies can attract top talent and encourage their team to go the extra mile for customers.

Adapting to innovation and securing the future

The rise of direct-to-consumer insurance carriers should not be ignored by traditional retail agents. While agents hold the advantage with their expertise and personalized service, ignoring innovation may lead to eventual obsolescence. Direct-to-consumer companies are not trying to create a new vertical; they want to emulate the success of retail agents. Recognizing this, agents must stay informed, adapt to changing customer preferences and embrace innovation. By doing so, agents can continue to deliver superior customer experiences while leveraging their relationships and expertise.

The insurance industry is undergoing a transformation, driven by changing customer expectations and technological advancements. Retail insurance agents have a unique advantage with their relationships, access to carriers and community connections. However, to thrive in the evolving landscape, agents must embrace innovative strategies. Leveraging technology and trying to out-innovate ourselves rather than succumb to “the way we have always done it” is a recipe for success in the future.


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