The show must go on! P.T. Barnum’s words are certainly applicable now. Over a relatively short period of time, the COVID-19 virus has—and, for the foreseeable future, will—dictate gatherings, business operations and personal behaviors. It leaves us to wonder: How will we adapt our everyday activities in light of the pandemic?
Considering the ways COVID-19 is influencing where we work, it’s important to consider how these changes will also impact how we work.
Brokers live in a fast-paced environment. From helping clients assess and navigate risks to developing new relationships to grow their book of business, broker activities most often occur up close and personal. If the show is to go on, brokers must think of new ways to engage with prospects and clients.
Demonstrating Leadership to Existing Clients
At its heart, insurance is a contract between the insurance company and the client, with the broker playing the role of advisor. When a loss occurs, there are questions about coverages, or when an unexpected event happens, such as the coronavirus pandemic, clients want to know that their advisor is available to provide insight and guidance.
Brokers are finding themselves on the front line, and that’s a good thing. Now is the time to shine by keeping pace with current events and emerging trends to refine what it means to be a source of business value.
Here are two strategies for conveying value to clients during uncertain times:
1) Be a source of insight. When the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010, benefits brokers learned quickly that employers craved and needed guidance in order to implement compliance requirements in a timely manner. Today, both property-casualty and group health brokers have the opportunity to help business owners.
Group health brokers will be needed to provide guidance on the newly enacted Families First Coronavirus Act, as well as how to handle the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
P-c brokers will have their hands full while helping business identify and address new risks arising from employees working from home. Business coverages such as workers compensation and cyber, including what constitutes “property,” take on new meaning when viewed through the lens of remote work.
2) Create predictability. During times of uncertainty, clients will appreciate more predictable communications. Delivering daily or weekly messages can help to keep your clients up to date and reduce phone calls and emails that require one-on-one attention for items that could easily be communicated with a message to all clients.
For the 20% of accounts that drive 80% of revenue, brokers may want to set up regularly scheduled calls to address client-specific concerns or needs.
Attracting New Business with Empathy and Credibility
Managing the needs of existing clients is just half the equation. Brokers still need to close new business. In the aftermath of any crisis, business revenues and employee counts may reduce. We saw this in 2008 during the Great Recession. While the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the economy remains to be seen, it is safe to say there will be an impact—and as a result, brokers could see their books of business shrink.
During crises, business owners find themselves juggling not just normal business operations, but also enacting new measures to protect their employees, comply with new laws or remain viable. These additional pressures stress both large and small businesses as they seek the latest information to inform their decisions.
As businesses search for insights, they will gravitate toward those who consistently display a keen understanding of their business and business concerns. To make the most efficient use of their time, brokers should focus on messaging to prospects who are the best fit for them and their agency, such as by working on a top 100 list of potential right-fit opportunities.
Messages that demonstrate empathy while at the same convey important and timely information will capture the attention of busy executives. Rather than focusing on agency resources and capabilities, brokers may want to encourage prospects to engage in a risk assessment or audit to identify policy limitations that could pose substantial threats to business continuity and coverage.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former White House chief of staff. While those words may sound opportunistic, they are a rallying cry to work by. The opportunity to lead and help business owners and executives make better more informed decisions whether in a crisis or not is one to be seized on by brokers.
Susan Toussaint is cofounder and partner at Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro company. Oceanus Partners is a firm dedicated to helping insurance professionals working in all lines of business insurance improve sales and client retention.