Life insurance disruption isn’t coming, it’s here.
The future of life insurance agents rests in the hands of technology.
Here’s a blinding glimpse of the obvious about life insurance customers: More every day are looking for ways to self-serve their insurance needs. If they can get a home loan online, then why can’t they get life insurance?
They just want it to be fast and easy. And, they don’t need someone in the middle.
If we’ve learned anything from the experiences with dissatisfied customers in other industries—Retail, Travel. Automotive, Media, Technology and on and on—those of us on the front lines of insurance may be in for a nerve shattering experience.
The precedence for life insurance disruption is overwhelming… ponder the following:
- Who will be upset they won’t have to go to a dealership to buy a car?
- Anyone know the fastest growing category in higher education?
- Don’t you miss buying CDs at the music store?
- Who thinks Amazon won’t be successful in the grocery business?
- When was the last time ink from a newspaper rubbed off on your fingers?
Research in 2016 by The Harvard Business Review with more than 2,000 CEOs identified the industries those CEOs anticipate will be most impacted by moderate or massive digital disruption.
Insurance was number six on the list.
The implications are staggering:
- We won’t need as many agents.
- Agent commissions will go down.
- Customer satisfaction will go up.
Many life insurance agents are paralyzed by this rapid change. Customers want—no, they are demanding—radical change to a buying process heavily favoring insurance companies. They are coming to the table armed and dangerous. More shop for insurance online before they speak to an agent. More study online the intricacies of products before they talk to an agent. And, more look online at their options for agents to help them.
Look to the grocery business for a glimpse of what’s to come. A late-comer to the Internet age (like the insurance industry), grocers are finally acting on what they’ve been hearing for some time from customers: make my life easier.
Wal-Mart has been testing customer pick-up for several years and now Amazon ups the game by buying Whole Foods to turbo-charge its plans for pick-up and delivery.
How different do you think the grocery business will be in five years?
Intellectually, we all understand the great life insurance disruption is occurring and the good old days are, well, old. The question is how are you dealing with it today?
Stay prepared for life insurance disruption
Customers want buying life insurance to be easier. Some data suggests they will sacrifice price if the process can be simple and fast.
Here are 4 things you can do today to ensure your survival (Don’t skip the action tips).
1. Always stay in touch with your customers
Most businesses wait until it’s too late to engage with customers. And, often the excuse is they didn’t have time.
There are many ways to get information from customers, from small group sessions over coffee to online surveys. Many agents say they already do this because they constantly meet with customers, but understanding what product a customer wants or needs is only a small piece of the puzzle. The issue is “why” do they want it.
Customers often can’t clearly articulate why, in part because the questions we ask will generate answers we want to hear, such as: “Isn’t it important for you to leave a legacy for your family?” Don’t trick yourself with misleading information. Take the time to listen to what’s really going on with customers.
Here are some simple questions (the answers may not be simple for the customer) you can ask in just about every customer contact:
- How have you changed over time, and how has that impacted how you think about your family (or business)
- What changes have occurred in your life you didn’t expect?
- How well have you prepared your family (or business) for your death?
- What one or two decisions in your life would you change knowing what you know now?
- What goal do you think you won’t reach for yourself (family or business) and why?
- What do you believe are external factors that will most impact you in the next 5-10 years?
Commit to having coffee or lunch 1-2 days each week with customers. No sales pitch… just asking questions and listening. You’ll be amazed at what comes out the other end.
2. Scream you are a life insurance expert
It’s all about the content (and always has been). The new, independent-thinking customer today needs quality information to make the insurance decision on their own, and they are looking for it online.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of that process. Start a regular blog and add value through original, locally-optimized content (or national if your business has that kind of reach). Good information is as valuable today as it was 50 years ago… all that’s changed today is how the information is consumed.
Starting a blog is as easy as creating a spot on your website and writing an article customers will appreciate and value. There’s overwhelming evidence that Google likes longer content (e.g. 1,500 words or more), but don’t be held hostage to length. Google’s algorithms do an outstanding job of evaluating both quality and quantity, so if you have a subject that only requires 750 words, then only write 750. A poorly-written 1,500-word blog will backfire on you.
If you aren’t a writer, there are many options for you, from Internet resources such as UpWork to local sources that should be easy to find through your network of contacts.
Action Tip: If you want some help learning how to position yourself as an expert, shoot us and email and we’ll tell you step-by-step how we started from nothing and ended up getting published in sources like Forbes, Inc, Huff and many more.
3. Keep your insurance agency website updated
Google and other search engines pay close attention to websites that add value on a regular basis. Likewise, Google dings websites that don’t.
Some of you are already blogging and may be wondering why your rankings don’t improve. It is highly likely your website is littered with old information and obsolete sections, all of which Google can smoke out in a Nano-second.
Remember, search engines will reward you for fresh and valuable content, and penalize you for a website that is neglected.
How long would you shop at a grocery store that never updated its selection?
Life insurance disruption is just a matter of time, stay prepared by keeping your website up to date.
Action Tip: Add something new to your agency such as Medicare Supplements. Create a page about Medicare Supplements and send it to all your clients and start sharing it on social media.
4. Work only with the best life insurance companies
In the old days (not that long ago), many carriers virtually ignored the end user customer experience, which meant most were operating under 1990s processes and procedures, and 1960s attitudes. Everyone in the food chain—agents included—received average-at-best treatment.
Today, there are many carriers working to improve their interactions with the end user. They are finding ways to meet the customer on their terms. with rich online capabilities/tools and/or great customer service (even at the expense of low price).
My thought is the carrier with the most innovative life insurance products is going to ultimately be the winner.
Technology’s unrelenting impact on the life insurance business is a dilemma for agents.
On the one hand, all the change feels like a gigantic wave about to swallow you up (and many agents don’t feel like they have a life jacket). On the other hand, it’s a wave many agents are dying to catch, but all you’ve got is a row boat (and no paddle).
People appreciate authenticity, don’t forget to be yourself and build and maintain your relationships.
It’s time to find a bigger boat. Start adding value today.