Most industries are used to treating millennials as a niche market. But that’s no longer an option—the millennial generation is expected to outnumber baby boomers by 2019, making it the most populous living generation.
It’s time for insurance agents to accept that millennials make up the majority of potential insurance customers, and develop a new customer experience tailored for this generation.
But what does the typical millennial customer want from their insurance provider? Those born between 1981 and 1996 are typically:
- Internet-savvy. The rise of the internet, email, social media and smartphones all occurred while millennials were children or young adults. These are tools that most millennials grew up using.
- Highly educated. Around four in ten millennials hold a four-year college degree.
- Slow to move into “traditional” adulthood. Millennials have frequently been stereotyped as lazy and immature, probably due to the fact that they tend to wait until later in life to get married, have children, buy a home and move into other “traditional” stages of adulthood. This delay is likely attributable to the 2008 recession, which hit just as the core group of millennials was leaving school and launching careers. The recession, combined with high student loan debt, made it difficult for many millennials to take on additional financial burdens.
These factors mean that millennials are quite different from previous generations when it comes to purchasing insurance. For instance, because most millennials rent their homes, they have little need for homeowners insurance. But they are heavily underinsured when it comes to renters insurance.
If you want to grab a share of the growing millennial market, you’ve got to show them you’re not the dinosaur agency that expects customers to fill out insurance applications on paper or even PDFs. And you’ve got to find ways to break through the trust issues that most millennials have about insurance providers.
Here are three ways to leverage technology to capture a slice of the millennial market:
1) Communicate better. Millennials may love technology, but they appreciate the human touch, too. Regular, meaningful communication is a key part of building customer loyalty and turning millennials into advocates.
What’s more, you can use technology to enhance your communication without removing the warm and fuzzy side. Frequent communication can also help you quickly build trust with your millennial prospects and customers.
For example, you could set a reminder in your CRM to ping you whenever one of your customers has a birthday. You can then give them a call or send an e-card on the big day. This not only makes your customers feel appreciated, but also gives you an opportunity to check in with them and make sure they’re happy with your service. Such an approach lets you catch any problems early on, well before customers are moved to drastic action.
Social media is another excellent way to communicate with your millennial customers and prospects. Most millennials are highly active in social media and are significantly influenced by social media when making purchases.
2) Give them access. Millennials expect omnichannel product availability. They want to buy, view, update and pay for their insurance policies online. If you give them a well-designed online insurance platform, you not only provide them with the level of access they crave, but also show that you understand their needs—which helps build that all-important customer trust. That means digitizing your insurance platform should be a top priority.
At a minimum, good digital insurance platform should have the following characteristics:
- Interface. Your platform should be intuitive and easy to use for both agents and insureds.
- Interactive forms. If a customer fills out a field on one form, the dashboard should pre-populate that information into identical fields on other forms. Millennials have no patience for entering their name repeatedly into 17 different forms.
- Good security. Every insurance package contains quantities of sensitive customer data. If an unauthorized person gains access to that data, it could cause a great deal of damage. Millennials generally feel positive about cloud providers and are willing to trust such providers to handle security, but that means it’s more important that you validate their trust by taking reasonable precautions.
- Data-entry tracking. For errors & omissions purposes, it’s important to be able to verify who entered which bit of data and when. It’s also a helpful feature for your multitasking millennial customers, since they’re running a higher risk of entering the wrong information.
If you don’t have an IT person at your agency, consider seeking out an insurance platform that offers good training and tech support.
3) Improve support. Millennials expect 24/7 support, preferably through multiple channels. Fortunately, millennials tend to be comfortable with chatbots and other artificial intelligence services. A millennial who’s just wrecked their car at 3 a.m. demands the ability to file a claim immediately, whether through a robot or a human agent. Such availability also helps build trust by showing you make the extra effort to be there when customers need you.
Robotic process automation is one example of how InsurTech can work for agencies rather than against them. There are even insurance-specific chatbots preprogrammed to help your insureds 24 hours a day.
Despite what many agents fear, you won’t be replaced by technology anytime soon. What tech will do is take over many of the tedious, data entry-heavy tasks agents do today, leaving them with more time and energy for the complex tasks that require a human touch.
By putting technology to good use, you can attract and retain a larger share of today’s tech-savvy customers and grow your agency.
Ken Wohl is head of marketing at Indio Technologies.