Get Educated, Get Personal
When it comes to marketing, it's hard for brokers to compete against direct writers with billion-dollar marketing budgets. Yet, brokers are still the top distribution choice for many consumers.
When it comes to marketing, it’s hard for brokers to compete against direct writers with billion-dollar marketing budgets. Yet, brokers are still the top distribution choice for many consumers.
How can our distribution channel compete despite smaller marketing budgets? One reason: we are starting to embrace automation. By streamlining and adopting processes we’re improving policyholder relationships since we no longer force clients to wait 30 days or more for paperwork.
Yet, my experience as a facilitator, and as a broker, prompts some concern. While new technologies are important, and it’s essential to provide clients with efficient, reliable and professional service, we, as an industry, have done little to really communicate our primary value proposition for our clients. Often, I will ask groups–those in sales and service–what sets us apart from the other channels of distribution. I’m often shocked that my colleagues struggle to answer my query.
One concern is our reactive, rather than proactive approach to our current and potential relationships. Because of the emphasis on automation, we have begun to govern by exception. Our processes are so automated that they can diminish personal contact; it is only the exception, rather than the rule, that a client receives personal contact from their broker.
We need to remind ourselves that our voice is the voice of someone they should trust.
Ask yourself: Is my client satisfied with a form letter or a standardized e-mail, or do they want and need the reassurance of my voice? We need to remind ourselves that our voice is the voice of someone they should trust. How is that personal connection, that trust in their insurance advisor, built or maintained when we automate all our client contact?
When I first started in the business, I learned that one of my most important tasks was to consult with my clients so they could make informed decisions. This is one of the primary reasons why we are all required to pursue minimum continuing education credits each year–so that we can educate our clients.
With the recent changes to the auto product we have the perfect opportunity to remind our clients why everyone should deal with a broker. The reforms have implications that need to be clearly understood–and as insurance professionals, we are well equipped to address and explain these changes and their impact on our clients’ auto coverage.
Now, more than ever, this habit of de-humanizing the process of communicating with clients must be changed. Every one of our clients has the expectation that their trusted advisor will be proactive and inform them what these changes mean to them, specifically. In order to answer their questions, and allay their concerns, our own education is of paramount importance.
The key to your success is the solid trust of your client–with that trust comes a long-term relationship, referrals and a growing business. But that trust is predicated on the consultation you provide. That consultation is not possible without education. Brokers must be clear on the reforms that are coming to Ontario’s auto product and how these changes impact our clients.
Derek Faulconer, CNA, BA, RIB (Ont.), President, CRE INSURANCE SERVICES INC
© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the April 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.