Having the tools to help expand the agent-client relationship and being able to employ them properly ensures the best chance of building customer loyalty and receiving referrals.
Independent agents bring plenty of value to the customer relationship—options, savings, expertise, personalized coverage reviews and knowledgeable guidance during the claims process, just to name a few.
But where an agent can shine in the day-to-day client relationship is customer service, which will ultimately expand the agent-client relationship. Having the tools to help and being able to employ them properly, ensures the best chance of building customer loyalty and receiving referrals.
Here are three digital resources every agent should consider to best manage their customer relationships:
1) Virtual assistants. One of the most practical ways to avoid adding to overhead, while still gaining the help any busy insurance agent needs, is incorporating a virtual assistant. Employing a virtual assistant for back-office, clerical work that doesn't require an insurance license can be extremely economical, often far less than a part-time, annual salary for an in-person assistant. Licensed insurance virtual assistants are also an option.
Given the state of the current U.S. labor market, hiring a virtual assistant eliminates a costly and time-consuming search. Virtual assistants have the added benefit of training and experience, potentially reducing the learning curve found when hiring less experienced assistants.
Virtual assistants can help agents with lead management, reception service, scheduling appointments, marketing assistance, quote preparation, social media advertising and managing your customer relationship management software. A simple Google search for insurance virtual assistant services will yield dozens of companies to consider.
2) Customer relationship management (CRM). Your CRM system should be treated with reverence. It allows you to organize information about clients and prospects and efficiently schedule and manage customer service tasks, including the required follow-ups. While an agency management system (AMS) focuses on the business of the insurance agency and its related tasks, CRMs are designed to help agents develop, nurture and grow relationships with their clients and prospects through audience segmentation and lead automation.
A well-maintained CRM helps turn prospects into clients while also providing cross-selling and upselling opportunities with existing customers. CRMs allow agents to prioritize time spent on marketing and sales, while in many cases helping to prioritize decision-making by providing data-driven insights over time.
3) Mobile apps. Mobile apps should be considered part of any independent agency's client retention program. Countless studies demonstrate that users interact with key mobile applications frequently. This fosters greater brand awareness and likely provides for a higher degree of client retention.
And because consumers increasingly want their insurance experience to reflect how they engage with other brands, products and services, a mobile app is a must for any independent agent. Most mobile apps allow clients to contact their agent, request changes to policies, pay their bills and even report claims. They can also send important reminders and help keep the agent top of mind.
Glovebox, Insurance Agent App and Code & Color are just the beginning of a long list of potential app vendors that independent insurance agencies can use to incorporate a mobile app into their agency.
Clients expect insurance to work at the speed of their lives, with convenience and capability. Independent agents must be prepared to employ the tools necessary to meet and exceed this expectation.
Doug Coombs is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance Inc. (SIAA).