P & C Insurance brokers - like other businesses - have been through incredibly trying times since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared and our society entered the lockdown.
As a longtime member of the P & C industry, I have been heartened by the industry's response: I've seen brokers helping each other with ideas & solutions to transition to a truly contactless delivery model. I've seen insurance companies step up to the plate to help policyholders. We've all seen our various levels of government demonstrating strong leadership and the rapid implementation of support measures for businesses and individuals.
Don't get me wrong - none of that has been perfect. However, it has been good enough to get us to the point where it's time to start thinking about the new normal, and that is a very good thing.
As our provinces start to re-open, we need to realize that things aren't going to be like they were. We still don't have a vaccine or effective anti-virals. Consequently, the new normal is to be ever vigilant.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs tells us that we need to meet our basic needs before we can be interested in more "advanced" needs. If you can't put food on the table, you're not interested in a Mexican vacation. Similarly, if you don't feel comfortable that a place is taking Covid-19 seriously (I'm talking to you - Alabama...), you will be less likely to frequent that place.
Basic Safety Needs Met
So, brokers need to demonstrate that they take the safety of their customers & staff seriously. Good news: every broker I know has done that. Having done that means that you're not driving people away out of fear.
How To Stand Apart?
If you want to be average, you can stop reading now.
To stand apart requires anticipating and delivering on consumer needs. The economic landscape has changed. Restaurants are down. Netflix is up. Search volume for "data plan upgrade" has spiked. Internet providers have removed bandwidth caps. That means that people have more time on their hands and they are spending it online. Unemployment has spiked and is likely to stay high for some time to come. That means that people will need to reduce expenses.
People facing a cash crunch with lots of time on their hands are people that will be soon be shopping their car insurance online and looking to their provider for a contactless delivery system.
There are a lot of ways to enhance your digital customer experience and I'm not going to elaborate on all them. What I will suggest is to think about it from the perspective of existing and prospective customers.
Your current customers need to know what's going on with their policies. Will they get a price break because they're driving less? How much can they save by taking a car off the road? What if they can't pay their premiums? How can they pay their premiums online and/or see their bills online?
They'll be looking to you for the info. Ask yourself these questions: is your website regularly updated with pertinent info? Do you have a way to mass email all your clients with general updates? Do you have self serve options for customer requests?
In normal times, about 80% of customer requests were non-revenue generating. That number has risen recently while you're revenue has fallen. Unless you have automated contact systems and customer self serve options, those facts will quickly eat into your bottom line and reduce your firm's customer satisfaction.
Generating new clients is fairly straightforward - be where the customer is looking. Easy to say, hard to do.
In the post Covid-19 world, prospects are looking online. Unless you're on the first page of Google or have a killer social media presence, you're not going to be at the top of the prospect's call list. Getting to the first page of google or having a killer social media presence requires expertise, money and time.
While SEO (and social) should absolutely be part of your digital strategy, there are other options.
You can take advantage of the services of a lead gen firm. In a way, this i essentially outsourcing your SEO to a firm that is very good at it. It's pay to play: within certain limits, you control how many leads you want in a month.
Another option is SEM, using Google AdWords or similar techniques. Again, this is a pay-to-play approach that can get instant results and you can manage your spend on a daily basis.
The use of digital means to do business has spiked and will likely be the post Covid-19 "normal". The coronavirus has dramatically accelerated the trend to digital. To be successful, brokers need to address the demands of the current customers & prospects by adopting digital marketing and self service technology.
Stay safe and wash your hands!