New trends have emerged out of the past two years which brokers need to be on top of to build their businesses and maximise their chances of success.
Last year, expat insurance provider William Russell hosted a webinar with Owain Thomas, editor of Health & Protection, supported by William Russell's Commercial Director, Michael Lewars, and its Transformation Manager, Avin Talabani, to talk about the new trends in insurance distribution and how brokers can use the changing landscape to bring more value to the broker-customer relationship.
Below are six of the trends identified in the session that brokers need to take notice of:
1. Be online first
Almost every form of communication has been driven online, even more than it was two years ago. However, it’s estimated that many insurance intermediaries do not have their own website, limiting their ability to communicate effectively.
In our fast-paced world, where rules and regulations are subject to constant change, and your customers want to be able to find all the most up-to-date, reliable information through a trusted source. Becoming that trusted source doesn’t necessarily mean you need to host all the information yourself. However, signposting them to appropriate, authoritative and authentic locations will make your website highly valuable, building trust in your business.
“Do you have a presence online – a website that is all your own? This may seem a simple thing to ask, but in some parts of the financial advice sector, we reckon around a quarter of intermediaries do not have their own website. And that’s a conservative estimate,” said Thomas.
2. Personalise your communications
When it comes to providing individual updates on applications or claims, personalisation is the new golden ticket. People want regular contact to keep them up to date with how things are progressing, but this means more than just an acknowledgement email.
Providing specific details by phone and email, addressing customers by name and being able to give personalised guidance on next steps will go a long way in making customers feel valued on their journey.
3. Let technology do the legwork
How customers access insurance is becoming increasingly dependent on technology. As a broker, it’s essential to get behind this if you want to remain relevant. Self-service is a growing trend in this space. Customers want to be able to access their policy information 24/7 and submit and track their claims online. This could mean investing in new technologies, such as portals that enable online applications, or even the ability to host virtual consultations with digital access to advisors and doctors.
Paperless and pen-less processing is another way technology can be used to improve customer experience. By enabling customers to complete claims online with virtual signatures, brokers won’t only streamline their own internal processes, they’ll also be able to minimise the time and effort it takes for customers to complete their journey.
“Insurance is typically a paper-based industry so for us to be able to keep up with these trends and evolve with our customers, we have to get digital,” commented Avin Talabani, Transformation Manager at William Russell.
4. Become a consultant
The role of the advisor is changing. Pre-placement planning is now a more complex process than it was pre-pandemic, and it’s taking longer to plan and prepare for placements. Previously easy and straightforward locations now need far more research and understanding. As a result, advisors are spending a lot more time with clients before they depart. This puts them in a better position to understand immediate and long-term customer needs, deepening customer relationships and taking on a more consultative role.
With a fully digital service offering, you’ll be able to collect and review up-to-date details about which products, services, and incentives your customers value the most
As consultants and experts in the insurance space, you, the broker, have a valuable service to provide, not only in terms of product offering but, in the knowledge and experience that guides that offering. Adaptability and flexibility are key in today’s unstable landscape, and the ability to formulate personalised strategies to cope with constantly changing regulations will be essential in helping ensure clients are always getting the support they need.
“There’s a very definite trend that advisors are now having to become consultants. They’re not just recommending the best product for the situation, but they’re offering a wider and deeper service to meet clients’ needs,” commented Owain Thomas.
5. Partner up
Deliver a broader proposition by identifying and engaging partners who can bring more value to your customer offering. While it’s vital that you’re able to be the subject matter expert in your field, you may also find external partners who could help you provide a more holistic solution to your customers. Identifying and engaging with partners to provide additional expertise will not only enable you to support your clients in new ways, but will also help you differentiate from your competitors.
You could also use third-party services or promotions to offer additional features, incentives, and rewards to your customers. Third-party services offer a quick and easy way to add value to the service proposition, particularly for pay-as-you-go customers. Some possible incentives might include discounted gym memberships or access to telehealth services.
6. Track and review
Digitising your services makes it easier to track customer needs, giving you a better understanding of the services that are most engaging to your client base. With a fully digital service offering, you’ll be able to collect and review up-to-date details about which products, services, and incentives your customers value the most, giving you the opportunity to act and expand on the solutions your customers find most useful, while saving on those that provide the least value.
Of course, not all these solutions will work for every broker. However, they should provide you with at least a couple of ways for developing your business and your customer relationships now and in the future.