Changing customer expectations calls for a rethink in the role of the Insurance Broker.
Insurance has always been competitive, especially in the UK. Boasting the third-largest market in the world, London contributes billions of pounds in revenue to the economy every year, supporting and providing their services to the millions of clients that pass through it. As a result, competition for business is fierce, with companies jostling to provide the best service to their customers, whether through technology, premium prices or better accessibility.
However, a new trend has been emerging from amongst the Brokers and Insurers of the market: one aimed at attracting customers by turning away from the traditional business model,and foregrounding the role of customer service instead.
Traditionally, brokering has been a highly transactional market: Brokers deal with high volumes of customers, making for a quick-paced environment, which in turn doesn’t offer much time for consultative conversations and support for clients buying insurance premiums.
There has been a shift in this area, thanks in part to changing customer expectations. With the rise of technology has come a generation of consumers and businesspeople used to the instant gratification offered by the variety of companies doing business online. Here, a product can be purchased at the tap of a finger- and often, the only thing that can sway a browser between choosing one service over the other is user experience. In today’s marketplace, customers value convenience and good service.
With this in mind- and with a very small margin often the only difference between insurance premiums in various firms- many insurance Brokers are starting to focus more on the value that the consultation process brings to their business. With60% of insurance customers not prepared to compromise service in pursuit of a better deal, it’s clear that these clients want a service that helps and informs them, rather than simply providing them with a quick sale. Brokers are starting to catch on, with firms beginning to offer their clients services that are tailored to meet their business’ needs.
Brokers are also being encouraged to adopt a more consultative approach when it comes to interacting with their clients. Insurance is a famously relationship-reliant business, with face-to-face meetings remaining common in an age where many other businesses across the market use email and video calls to correspond with clients, which showcases how establishing a good working rapport is vital if you want to retain business.
Adopting a consultative-first, broking-last approach can pay off: today, companies are placing the emphasis on developing a full understanding of a business’ background, their needs, and what they hope to get out of a policy before broaching the subject of premiums or cost. Today’s consultation sessions include everything but the policy, which is only discussed once a Broker feels confident that they can deliver a bespoke solution to their client.
Naturally, this approach is causing ripples in the markets, not least in the qualities that Recruiters and Brokers are looking for when making their next hire. Attitudes are changing: it’s no longer about getting the next deal. Now, it’s about building customer relationships that last- and with a recent report by McKinsey identifying customer access and ownership as keys to the largest profits, this is vital if insurance Brokers want to remain competitive in the face of a market where InsurTech is rapidly beginning to pose a threat to more established companies.
Today, insurance companies are looking for Brokers who can provide a high level of customer service on top of a trading mindset; as a result, the ideal employee has now become somebody with a great track record of client retention. Though qualifications are of course important, companies are now looking at how prospective employees have performed over an extended period of time, and whether they can manage customer relationships in a way that could help grow the business. Of particular importance is whether today’s senior candidates have the right attitude and aptitude to learn quickly and thrive in the changing market: after all, firms can teach you all about the specific market area, but it’s a lot harder to train your staff to communicate well.
Insurance is changing. Attitudes are evolving, and the role of the insurance Broker is rapidly evolving into something much more nuanced than it previously has been. With Brokers everywhere realising the value of good customer service, the time has come for a new kind of Broker. In an age where technology is affecting significant areas of the insurance market, the one area that it cannot replace is building and maintaining relationships-a cornerstone of the insurance market.
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