Navigating Consumer Insurance Trends
No matter what business you’re in, today’s culture demands that you be on the Web. Why? Because that’s where consumers are increasingly spending their money. Each holiday season, you read reports about how much more consumers are spending online than they did in previous years. And if you need more evidence of that, consider the emergence of “Cyber Monday” that comes two days after the traditional “Black Friday.” As an insurance agent, this information affects you in a big way: The online retail trend also is echoing through the insurance marketplace.
A 2012 Conning Research study, “Consumer Trends in Personal Lines Insurance: Preparing for Tomorrow's Market,” showed that consumer activities and preferences are driving changes in the marketplace and will continue to do so in the future. For insurance agents, that means adapting to consumers’ evolving tastes and habits – which reflect demographic, technological and economic factors – in a way that keeps independent agencies competitive.
Many more consumers are going online to shop for insurance, and in doing so, are cutting out the customer service component that generally comes with working directly with an agent. The motivators behind that behavior generally have more to do with cost savings than with not wanting to develop a relationship with an agent. Shopping online allows consumers to do more price-comparison on their own, giving them a feeling that they’re hunting down the better deal.
So, what can you do to stay ahead of the trend?
- Show your clients what a difference personal service makes.
The automated nature of many of the newly developed options for insurance shopping can lead to customer frustration. The Conning Research study points out that this frustration presents an opportunity for agents to jump in and provide assistance and advice. Positioning yourself as an advisor who can not only provide cost value but customer service, as well, will help set you apart and offer shoppers a compelling reason to consider working with you.
- Use the online quote-searching habits of consumers to your advantage.
As more consumers shop online, they are also making their behavioral information available, often through quoting activity. Consumers enter their contact and demographic information when they request quotes, essentially providing a bank of information that savvy agents can use to pursue qualified leads that could result in a healthier bottom line.
- Build your Web presence.
You know consumers like to be on the Web – so make sure that you’re out there in front of them. If you’ve already got a website, consider updating it to make it cutting edge. Give customers ways to interact with you, and a reason to go to your website. The same goes for your Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. Most importantly, treat your Web presence as something that needs to be tended to every day. If you let months go by between Facebook posts or tweets, you’ll instantly look out of touch to your audience.
- Utilize lead suppliers.
To help boost your business, buying leads can be a great investment. Search out a reputable supplier of online leads when you’re ready to make a purchase to ensure that you’re getting top-quality leads. Online lead suppliers collect the information of customers near you, who are ready to buy. Without those leads, you might otherwise never get an introduction.
Above all, in a changing marketplace, agents need to keep an eye on the trends and think critically about how to keep up with them. Adapting your business to the ever-changing tastes and habits of consumers will ensure that your agency’s success.