The Connected Business of Insurance
March 19, 2014
My “Ah Ha” Moment
The other day, a colleague suggested that we add an online chat feature to our website. I was hesitant at first, but he said to me, “People are going to communicate with you one way or the other. If they want to reach you, they will pick up the phone, email, send a letter or chat online, but they won’t do them all at the same time.” His point was that the online chat provides another channel for potential communication. That was an “ah ha” moment for me, thinking in terms of multichannel communication. You must make available every type of communication to reach consumers. Otherwise, you’re missing out on business opportunities. As an insurance agency, we have to constantly think about the future consumer and adapt our communication methods as technologies change.
A New Normal
When I was growing up, computers were new. I can remember being in college and using WebCrawler – one of the first Web search engines! Obviously, things have changed. My daughter, who’s in college, sends more than 10,000 texts a month. It’s outrageous, but that’s how she prefers to communicate. It recently became clear to me that there was a communication gap between us. For her, email is too slow – she wants instantaneous communication. Soon, this new generation will be needing insurance for their homes and families. The change in the core consumer is something we need to examine and embrace. Independent agents need to realize that we are no longer the gatekeepers of insurance knowledge that we once were. People can search online for all the insurance information they need. In order to remain relevant, we need to position ourselves so that the consumer searching for answers finds us.
At Bryan Insurance we use FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a mobile app, radio show, YouTube channel and customer support software to communicate with our customers. I try to post things that are relevant to what’s happening in the world. It’s extremely important to post educational materials to build that trust and loyalty. For example, if there’s a news story about earthquakes, I might send out a post about earthquakes in Texas and how to insure against them. It is important to address what’s on people’s minds. I try to post information that makes people curious and think, “Wow, maybe I need earthquake coverage.” It’s meant to be thought-provoking.
Social media is about distributing information. One of my producers likes to say, “I’m not in sales, I’m in education.” We must educate consumers about their coverage and help them understand that, as insurance agents, we can provide guidance, not just products. Bottom line, if direct insurance writers are engaged in social media and we’re not, when it comes time for people to buy insurance, the direct writers will be “top of mind,” and we will lose business. If you push out educational content through a variety of channels, people understand we just want to help them, and that’s a value-added service.
Tommy Dies, CFO, Bryan Insurance, left an accounting firm 10 years ago to join Bryan Insurance which was an Insurance Journal “Best Insurance Agency to Work For in 2012.” He served on the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT) Finance & Budget Committee and is part of IIAT’s Agency Financial Managers Affinity Group. He has held various local board positions and now serves on the Young County (TX) Appraisal District’s Appraisal Review Board and as a third-term Rotary Club board member. Connect with Tommy and Bryan Insurance on Facebook and Twitter @BryanInsAgency.