A survey a few years ago asked consumers what drives them to buy from and recommend companies. The single biggest reason? How easy it is for a consumer to get information and weigh their options.
Consumers want simplicity. Here's an example.
Last week in the car on a road trip, I was talking with my husband about a birthday gift for his dad. We decided on a pair of Keens as my husband loves his pair and thought his dad might enjoy them too.
Since his birthday was the next day and I don't have much free time to go shopping, I pulled out my phone. Using the Zappos app, I found the right pair and had them shipped directly to my father-in-law. The whole process took me less than 10 minutes and was incredibly easy.
Zappos gets a lot of recognition for its stellar customer service. And, there's no denying how much consumers love the online retailer.
Why do they love Zappos? Because it is so easy to buy from Zappos. Because it is so easy to return an item. Because Zappos goes out of their way to make it easy.
Consumers Have Control
For hundreds of years, agents controlled the process to buy insurance. They were the only way to get the insurance we need.
That's no longer the case. As consumers started to use technology more, their expectations changed.
Consumers took control of the insurance buying process by choosing options that are easy. (89 percent of consumers switch to a competitor following a poor customer experience.) Now, they have more choices, more sources, more opportunities than ever before.
The insurance industry has not kept the same pace in adopting technology, which has created a gap. The shift of control to consumers is why we're seeing these insurtech startups trying to fill this gap. Not all have been successful yet. But they're not going to stop coming.
Meeting or exceeding a consumer's expectations is not enough to win her loyalty. You have to provide such great service that she uses minimal effort to buy from you.
Not making it easy will kill a consumer's experience with your agency.
Are You Easy to Work With?
You might think you're easy to work with. But, what if your assumptions don't line up with what a consumer actually experiences?
Take off your agency owner hat for a moment. Think like a consumer, and secret shop your agency. (If you're having trouble, ask a friend who is not readily familiar with your agency to do it.)
1. Do a search online for your main line of business and your town. Does your insurance agency website appear in the first page of results? If so, is it displaying the correct information? If not, you need to look at optimizing your website better.
2. Click on your website. Look at it as if you were a consumer looking at it for the first time. Is it clear where to go to request a quote? Is it obvious how to contact you with questions? Do you provide more than one way to contact your agency? Are you providing as many answers and helpful information as you can on your website?
3. Go through the process to request a quote. Was it time consuming and difficult? How quickly do you get a response? If you provide comparative rates on your website, how long did it take and what was that process like? Fill out a contact form. How quickly do you get a response? What was the response?
4. Call your agency. Did a person pick up right away? Or do you have to navigate a menu? How easy is it to get a person on the phone? How long did you have to wait? When a person answered, was he or she friendly and helpful?
Think of all the ways you interact with your clients. Are you doing everything you can to keep it easy for your clients? Is your website easy to use on all devices, including smartphones? Look at everything you do, and ask yourself: How can I make this easier for my clients?
What You Can Do
A client-first focus leads to more loyalty, more referrals, more business. Consider Zappos again. They have more than a billion dollars in annual sales. They got there by making every part of the process as easy as they could.
Here are some ways you can make it easy for a consumer to choose you.
1. Be where consumers are. 85 percent of consumers search for local businesses online.
If you don't have an insurance agency website, get one. If it's been a few years, it's probably time for a refresh. Make sure it's mobile friendly. Consumers are using multiple devices during the research and sales process. You want your website to look great no matter what they're using to view it.
Think beyond the website. Whatever way a client wants to engage with you, be there. That can include social media and email.
2. Provide great service. Respond quickly to quote and contact requests. Follow through on what you say you'll do.
3. Ask for feedback. Use surveys to find out what your clients think of your agency and service. Listen to what they have to say.
4. Review your processes. Look for places where you are making it more difficult for consumers. Remove the hoops they have to jump through. Simplify.
5. Check your technology. If you're not using the right insurance agency software, find what you need to make your agency better.
Implement good technology and processes. Train your staff to use the software and follow processes correctly. Use all your technology to their fullest potential. Monitor and measure.
Agencies that make it easy for consumers are winning your opportunities. Competition is only growing. If you want to compete and win, make it easy for consumers, and they will choose you.
Want to learn more tips and proven strategies other agents have used to grow their businesses? Join us at Agent Conference April 20-21, 2017 in Grapevine, Texas!
About the Author
As senior vice president of sales and marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s sales and marketing departments. Her specialties include creating and documenting processes; establishing metrics for managing those processes; developing content strategy and generating leads; and driving the overall company sales and marketing strategy. Becky was named an Elite Woman in Insurance by Insurance Business America in 2016. She has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder