Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
This is the most famous line from the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The title character uses these words as a rallying cry, as he skips school to spend a day on the town in Chicago.
Your agency doesn’t have the ability to follow Ferris’ lead. With so many customers to serve, there’s no time for a day off. And traveling to Chicago can be quite expensive.
But it’s still important to stop and look around every now and then. Take a moment to organize and prepare for what’s to come. Because life in the insurance world does move pretty fast. And without proper planning, you will miss out. You’ll let chances to better serve your customers and grow your bottom line pass you by.
So, as we begin the new year, there’s no better time than now to get planning and seize the moment. Let’s get started!
A Quick Disclaimer
This time of year, you’ll see plenty of articles about building a calendar for the year to come. This is not one of them. While budget allocations and content calendars are important, they focus on tactics. And as Sun Tzu once wrote: Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
Leveling up your strategy means putting your customers’ needs first. It means being ready for those needs, and then delivering on them.
It takes planning to put this strategy into motion. Here are some areas to focus on.
Modern insurance consumers don’t have one buying process. They use a variety of touchpoints when they shop. It’s critical that your agency has a presence on all these platforms. Strategic planning can help your agency get there.
- Get a modern insurance website. Make it easy for consumers to navigate, both on computers and smartphones. Provide information consumers are looking for. Optimize your pages to be visible on search engines. Feature your agency phone number and address. Build easy-to-complete quote and contact forms for anyone who’s ready to buy.
- Stay active on social media. Build pages and profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Brand these pages to match your website’s style. Contribute to the conversations consumers have on them. Focus on building brand awareness through these channels.
- Have a multichannel phone response strategy. Consumers will be at different points in the buying cycle when they dial your agency’s phone number. So, call scripts won’t work. Train your staff to be detectives and problem solvers. They should determine what each caller is looking for, and how the agency can provide a solution.
- Design your office for consumers. Some consumers prefer to shop in-person. If you have a brick and mortar office, keep comfort in mind. Provide a waiting area and a water cooler. Treat anyone who drops by with kindness, courtesy and respect.
It can be tempting to look at staffing as a scalable resource. Many business owners to say, “We’ll add more staff once we have the demand.” They’ll wait for the phone to ring off the hook before adding a new position.
This plan might be cost-efficient, but it can lead to a poor consumer experience. When your agency sees a boost in growth, you’ll be very busy until you can get reinforcements in-house. Consumers will feel the pain of these busy times. They’ll encounter longer wait times and hurried service.
These setbacks might be temporary. But the fallout from a scathing online review or a lost customer won’t be.
Strategic planning can help your agency avoid this. It allows you to:
- Budget for staff increases ahead of time. This will make you less reliant on a customer surge for hiring.
- Expect spikes in demand. This will give you time to hire and train the best possible candidates for new positions.
By planning ahead, you can scale your operations up with confidence. And your customer service won’t take a hit.
Insurance is cyclical, and that provides savvy agencies plenty of opportunities to pounce. Getting ahead of these cycles can pay big dividends for both consumer trust and your bottom line.
Any agency worth their salt will keep track of policy X-Dates. But strategic planning can take the renewal process to the next level. It allows you to treat renewals as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn more about your clients’ evolving needs. And an opportunity to provide updated coverage that keeps them satisfied.
Targeted emails can help with this process. But they’re most effective if you have a strategic plan in place, and execute it well ahead of the renewal date.
Communicate with your customers early and often. Use the information they give you to provide customized renewal coverage. This will ensure you don’t let a golden opportunity slip by.
Not all consumers are the same. Some will shop for insurance on price alone and others will mull over policy options. Some will let their policies auto-renew. Others will mark renewal dates on their calendar months in advance.
Those who fall into the second category expect personalized service. They also expect clear, effective communication from your agency.
Plan for these consumers. If you close the office for the holidays, don’t wait until the last minute to let them know. If you have a surge in policy renewals on the horizon, consider allocating some staff to work on those alone. If you’re a high-volume agency, you might want to dedicate some staff to renewals year-round.
These initiatives help your agency serve consumers in the moments they need you most. And, as they say, service is your best salesperson.
So, take some time for some strategic planning right now. It will be well worth the effort.