This post is part of a series sponsored by ITC (Insurance Technologies Corporation).
I like to say that I want to have a person in my life for everything.
I have a financial advisor, I’ve got a mechanic, a physical therapist, and I have an insurance agent. There’s more, but you get the gist.
My agent was hand-picked after interviewing multiple agents and let me tell you – he’s a rock star. Having an independent agent is a critical teammate component in my life.
Having a personal relationship with your customers is an independent agents’ silver bullet. It is the one thing that carriers do not and will never have. I’ve had insurance with both. Nothing has made me appreciate my insurance agent more than having to file a claim with a big carrier.
It was a terrible experience.
I waited on hold and jumped through many hoops. Eventually, I got some random person who had no genuine interest in making sure I was taken care of. That person had no vested interest in making sure that I got the best help.
Yes, you can get a quote for car insurance in 15 minutes or less with GEICO. But when it comes time to file a claim, the cons far outweigh the pros. Independent agents are hardwired, skilled, and motivated to provide risk-averse solutions tailored to the consumer.
But, the truth is that every agent can say that. Customer service might be your differentiator from the carriers, but it doesn’t help you stand out among other independent agents. Technology is your differentiator.
When it comes time to get a quote, your independent agency needs to have the right technology. Agencies should be using automated email campaigns and social media to create brand recognition. You need to be optimizing your website and using Google My Business to show up in local search results. Your insurance agency website needs to have a quoting engine to provide consumers with live, fast quotes.
So, how can your agents maximize their personal touch in a digital world?
Is Your Brand Human Enough?
So many insurance agents use stock photography on their websites.
If you are one of those agents, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to humanize your agency by including your agents on your website. I maintain that this is the most significant local gap when trying to market your agency’s brand to your community.
You should have pictures of your team members and your owners. Include team pictures, bios, directories, and partners on your website. These humanizing factors do a couple of things for your agency. It makes your brand and your agency more approachable and recognizable.
When putting together this list of priorities for staying personal, I put this as number one for a reason.
The good news is you control how you humanize your brand. Even better news? You can act today. Starting with your website, your Google My Business, and your email marketing voice.
Here’s a quote that I love. “People like working with people who like working with people.” If you can project that through your digital assets, you will have a great shot at getting new business and keeping your current business.
What is Your Differentiator?
All agencies want to be special, unique, and one of a kind. The irony is if you asked every insurance agency owner what they did best, they’re all going to say service.
I hear this answer from owners all the time. However, when I ask them their policy in force rate or service retention rate, they back away from the question.
Find something for which you are a snowflake. When I say be a snowflake I mean find out what truly makes your agency unique. Separate yourself from the usual talking points like providing exceptional service.
If that is service and have the stats to back it up, find a unique way of marketing it to your clients. Show statistics for your time to follow up with clients making claims. Market your customer reviews on social media and your website.
If you can’t do that, find something else.
It could be a mobile app or a comparative rater that provides customers with faster, more accurate quotes.
Whatever your snowflake factor is, identify it, market it, and own it. You cannot be exactly what your competitors are. This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from the field. Be the agency that offers an easily identifiable, customized service for their community.
How Local Is Your Agency?
You don’t have to take on the whole state.
If you haven’t already, start prospecting in your immediate vicinity. I mean this literally. Where is your physical office located?
I always ask agents if they’ve asked all the surrounding shops and their employees. The auto body shop next door. The apartment buildings around the corner. The restaurants down the street. Your community should be the bedrock of your agency.
People want to know that there are people in their community who can help them. If a person is struggling financially and must make a claim, the last thing they want to do is talk to a carrier who is outsourcing their call to another country.
Have you made staying local your core business? Have you made it your purpose and passion? Start from the inside out and never bite off more than you can chew. Nobody knows your community better than you. Getting to know the people in your area is something the big carriers can never do. Be the agent in your community who can help everyone with their insurance needs.
Once you have that reputation, you have a foundation that can carry you to increased brand growth. Focus first on a hyper-localized approach. Then, just by word of mouth, five-star Google reviews, and brand recognition, you’ll be able to branch out incrementally.
The digital world is advancing rapidly, and COVID-19 only expedited it further. Consumer expectations have changed. They want faster and more accurate quotes. And, they want the process of getting them to be easier.
If your agency is able to match the convenience of the big carriers with the service and personal touch of an independent agency, then you hold all the cards.