Don’t Let the Fear of Disintermediation Get You Down

Digitization. Disruption. Disintermediation. Those are three scary words. Or, are they? There’s a lot of chatter around the insurance world about technology taking over, leading to disintermediation. In other words, some fear that online insurance companies and tools will take the place of the traditional insurance broker or agency. With the increased demand for instant results and self-service convenience, this fear seems justified. Add in the impact of the pandemic and this demand for digitization is multiplied. Even though this all sounds scary, and plausible, the reality might be a bit brighter. Let’s examine this threat and put to rest some of the unrest around this topic.

New players with new technology are popping up all the time. While technology is the ultimate disruptor, it is also the ultimate enhancement to help you provide an excellent customer experience. Online-only solutions sound appealing, but oftentimes, they can fall short. That’s where an agent comes in to save the day by helping with a claim or offering needed advice.

Your customers need to know you provide value they can’t get from a computer alone. Of course, you can even enhance your value when you offer a mix of personal interactions and digital tools. Here are a few ways to provide the balance and cross the fear of disintermediation of your list:

  • Be invaluable. In the age of technology and “needing” information now, it may seem like consumers are moving to the Internet to get their insurance information instead of utilizing an independent agent. Unfortunately, those who bypass an agent are missing out on valuable expertise and advice without even realizing it. Remind your clients of the personalized services you provide. Also, active listening will go a long way. It will allow you to digest a situation and offer relevant advice and perspective as your experience allows.
  • Be personal. Your interpersonal skills can make or break you. Learn as much as you can about your clients and share that back with them at appropriate times. For example, in an email or phone call – ask them about their pet, a recent special event or something else they have mentioned as important. Show that you listen to them not only about their insurance needs, but also care about them as a person.
  • Be real. Provide your customers an experience they can’t get from a website alone. Build a culture and brand that permeates every aspect of your agency and your outreach. Being your authentic self will help foster trust. You can do this by getting to know your customers and making thing like your website and social media posts personal and real. Avoid stock photos – showcase your team, your agents, your owners, your office, and maybe even your pets! Include pictures of your teams and community events. All these factors can make you more relatable.
  • Be reliable. Stay in touch with your clients. Don’t just reach out at renewal time. Establish a solid communication and content plan and work to provide regular, trusted content. You can do this manually, but there are insurtech tools, like Zywave’s Sales, Client, and Content Cloud, available to assist you and still allow you to keep the personal vibe.
  • Be convenient. In this case, convenience means technology. People want and are demanding self-service more than ever. People want instant. People want control. Is this risky for the independent agent? It doesn’t have to be. Figure out a way to eliminate the digital wall that seems to be building. Offer technology that allows clients to be self-sufficient in most areas, but still rely on you for critical areas of expertise.

Embrace Technology

Technology is not the enemy. It can be the “something extra” that can increase value, efficiency and satisfaction. Technology doesn’t have to seem robotic. It’s all about the message, tone and delivery. Consider adding technology to your mix. It can help with communications, agency management, content creation, branding and more.

The bottom line is: offer digital solutions, but always keep the personal connection, the help, the advice, the expertise and the care. Meet your clients’ needs. Then exceed them with a smile.

Pandemic Impact

COVID-19 has been a disruptor like no other. The pandemic has changed the way people work, live, talk, and interact. The focus has turned to technology as a solution. People want things at their fingertips. Which, again, is good and bad for the insurance space. No matter what, agents are still necessary. There will always be a need for specialists who deeply understand customer needs and can package the right coverage or provide the proper guidance. It all goes back to creating value through a mix of personal touch and digital convenience. Basically, the need for insurtech has never been greater.

Focus on the Future

Clearly, insurance has evolved far beyond what it used to be. Today’s insurance buyers demand a technology-inspired experience, and it’s reshaping the industry. How you respond to the evolution will set your course for the future. If you’re interested in learning more about the insurtech solutions that can take you to the next level with your clients, click here.

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