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How to maintain client relationships at a distance

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​David Carr, Managing Director at Idex Consulting talks about how Account Executives can keep their clients close, at a distance. 

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way almost every industry operates, and the general insurance sector is no exception. Many lines of business with insurance coverage were impacted when governments ordered organisations all over the world to put procedures in place to prohibit the spread of the virus.

This included business interruption (such as supply chain disruption), trade credit insurance (cover for businesses if customers who owe money for products or services can’t pay), cyber liability (due to increased working from home) and more. This was the catalyst for many businesses who have had to review and implement new processes, practices and culture overnight.

The challenge for Account Executives

This posed a significant challenge for Account Executives (AEs), who are responsible for finding new business, nurturing the sales pipeline and maintaining good working relationships with all clients, prospects and their referral network. 

Before the pandemic hit, AEs would conduct business and build relationships through face-to-face interaction. From meeting for coffee or lunch, to having conversations over a round of golf, conversation in person plays a huge part in maintaining effective client relationships, all of which is key to renewal retention rates and new business retention. However social distancing, working from home and a series of lockdowns has caused severe disruptions to the way in which AEs conduct business. 

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Learning hard market skills

As the general insurance industry continues to operate during a hard market, AEs are faced with a situation where the demand for insurance exceeds the supply for the first time in many years. As a result, there’s reduced cover and premiums costs are rising between 100% to 500%.

This means AEs will be having difficult conversations with both new and existing clients. Loyal customers who have paid their premiums for years with no claims are now faced with higher costs and reduced cover. This is where transparency and communication is key. Previously, we talked about hard market skills and the future of work and reward for AEs - this sentiment still stands.

Communication and transparency is key

While you can’t talk in person, you can certainly pick up the phone or set up a video call where you go through every option available to them and help them understand the current situation.

There have been instances where clients have been offered policies with a 250% increase in premium costs and reduced cover on a Friday afternoon, with a 72 hour window. It is vital that you plan around time constraints and give your clients the breathing space to make informed decisions and are flexible with deadlines - the worst thing you can do is make them feel like they’ve been backed into a corner.

By doing this, you’ll have a much greater chance of keeping that client on once their policy renews in a year, rather than going elsewhere. 

InsureTech's place in the pandemic

Whilst the economic fallout and the disruption of the pandemic has shone light on inefficiencies and highlighted pain points for AEs and customers, it has also spurred positive change in the industry.

InsurTech is a new breed of insurance company that utilises digitalisation and technology to reduce costs, enhance efficiency and improve productivity from the current model the industry operates on.

This innovation gives AEs the chance to offer a more personalised, unique service to both prospective and existing clients, wherever they are in the world. Insurers are using data and new technology to offer improved services to their customers and make smarter business decisions.

For example, QuanTemplate, a London based InsurTech company employs machine learning, analytics, and big data transformation and to help companies and professionals make the most of digital transformation trends. As a result, AEs and underwriters are able to understand market dynamics and offer the best solutions for property, reinsurance, casualty and life insurers.

A changing culture

InsurTech isn’t just changing the way in which the insurance industry operates, but the workplace culture, which we covered in our recent article about the skills shortage in the industry, and what this means for AEs. As InsurTech continues to build on the traditional insurance model and use innovation to improve, they’re presenting themselves as modern, dynamic technology companies. And with this culture change comes lifelong learning and support for AEs. 

When AEs work with InsurTech companies that provide proper training and support, they can learn the soft and hard skills required to navigate this difficult time, and utilise the technology available to them. In doing this, they can build on client relationships and get ahead.