Insurance is an old-fashioned industry, right?
Of course it doesn't have to be, but there's no doubt that the business suffers from a reputation for being stuck in the past. As the new generation of young and energetic insurance claims adjusters, customer service reps and licensed agents enters the arena, many of the old ways of doing business are falling by the wayside. Almost all of the 513 respondents to a recent Insurance Journal survey of young agents said building relationships is the most important way to succeed in the insurance business. How these relationships are built is what sets the new generation apart from the old. Veteran agents have spent decades trying to reach out to potential customers, looking for better ways than speaking to groups of a dozen or so people at that rotary club, coffee shop or chamber business meeting. “In five years, 30-year-old insurance consumers (prime buyers who are starting families and buying cars and houses) will have never taken an adult breath without Facebook,” said Ryan Hanley, a 32-year-old insurance and financial services agent based in New York. “How will we as independent agents market to these people? They have entire friendships built and sustained online. These individuals do not see the need for face-to-Face (meetings). If we don’t have an online presence we will miss the opportunity to build a relationship with them.” And so social media has become the top marketing tool for the industry. Email drip marketing is also reaching new customers and nurturing sales leads. On the content marketing side, blog posts let you answer frequently asked questions. YouTube videos turn the staid old Q&A format into educational and entertaining videos that build your reputation as an expert and industry leader. Technology's effect on the insurance business extends beyond marketing. Products such as PL Rating, WebFSC and FSC Rater let agents get quotes for personal lines carriers and real-time, multi-carrier ratings. E-signature software enables you and your clients to sign documents online. And you're not writing policies by hand and faxing documents anymore, are you? Technology enhances personal interaction and gets your foot in the door, building your brand. But it's important to remember that all the emails, texts and Tweets in the world can't take the place of old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Some of your younger clients might be comfortable communicating with you via Skype, but many clients (not just the aged ones) will always prefer phone calls and eye-to-eye meetings. You can use technology to communicate with people who are responsive to high-tech tools, but you still have to take the time to get to know what they do for a living, what their favorite sport is, and the names of their kids. Unless you see GEICO as your model for business success, the personal touch is the best way to gain an edge. Being connected 24/7 also means young professionals are disconnecting less and less. As their online and offline lives merge, it seems they're always working. But remember, just because you and your agency don't work traditional office hours doesn’t mean your carriers don't. Some things are best kept to the 9-to-5 routine. Insurance claims adjustors and agents have always been mobile. And smartphones and other mobile technology mean young insurance professionals are never tethered to an office. Meditec's insurance and pre-license courses are ideal for stay-at-home moms and military families who are on the move but wanting to find a way to get started with an insurance career. The courses have become popular because so many younger adults want jobs where they can work from home or that they can take with them when the family relocates.