In tough economic times, facing competition from direct insurance and aggregator sites, it’s normal to doubt your role as an intermediary. In such a digital world, how do you stay relevant and offer the ultimate client service experience? The answer is simple: embrace technology. There are many ways in which you can use technology to amplify your online presence, grow your customer base, offer better customer service and stand out from the noise. Let’s look at a few ideas:
Using technology to market your business
Nowadays, customers are using more than one channel to research, communicate and complete a transaction. Therefore, it’s imperative that your business has a good online presence (website and social media) and that you are able to service customers through a range of channels. If you don’t have a website yet, build a free one with tools such as wix.com and get advice on improving your SEO (search engine optimisation). Search engine results are focusing more on local searches so be sure to include wording to that effect in your website – e.g. guesthouse insurance Polokwane or taxi insurance Port Elizabeth. A blog is also a powerful SEO tool so add one on your website and, if you have the time, commit to writing at least one post a month and share it with clients.
The more places you can speak to customers, the better chance you have to be heard. Social media is a great way to increase your presence online. Use your professional network to generate leads through your LinkedIn page – read our tips here. And don’t ignore the power of Facebook – after all it’s the third most visited website in South Africa after Google.com and Google.co.za. And don’t think social media is only for youngsters: the 55–64 age group constitutes the fastest growing demographic on Twitter.
Using technology to be more efficient when dealing with clients
Email is still a powerful marketing tool and used correctly – and always with permission – it can be a great way to follow up on leads, sales, share industry insights and more. Work out an email programme for the year and design your own newsletter with free software such as Mailchimp.
If you want to go a bit more sophisticated, invest in a cloud-based admin system such as iCIM from Cardinal. Track all your communication, auto-create welcome packs, do bulk emailing and SMS campaigns and store documents securely (ISO 15801 compliant). The best thing is that the entire system is compatible with iPad and Android tablets so you have a wealth of information accessible whilst on the go. Another one to check out is insurance broker software, Insly.
Being able to access a cloud-based system from anywhere means no more having to make multiple phone calls back to the office to verify information, increased employee productivity and reduced time spent on duplicative administrative tasks.
Using technology to better communicate with clients
As you know, customers (especially younger ones) are glued to their smartphones 24/7. They do everything with their phones: shop, research, chat and more. Think of ways that you could offer convenience in the palm of their hands, whether through a mobile app or SMS. SMS has a proven open rate of 98% so it’s almost guaranteed to be read. SMS can be used to send reminders to check policies for underinsurance, weather warnings, seasonal updates by industry (e.g. holiday time for guesthouse owners) and more. Remember: you must always ask for permission before sending SMS and email messages.
Have you thought of faster ways to respond to a customer? Nowadays, it’s no longer acceptable to get back to a customer the next day with information about their policy. Speed of communication can mean the difference between winning and losing new business. Why not offer a dedicated office WhatsApp or WeChat number for any policy queries? Or offer a ‘live chat’ function on your website?
You can also include Skype as a mode of communication – it’s free and offers great conference and video call options. For example, you can have a call with a farmer in a remote location where he can share photos of damages from his desktop (watch a tutorial here).
Harness the benefits of technology
Customers today expect greater access to information and more control over their decisions. The more you can embrace and implement technology innovations, the better you’ll be able to grow and adapt your business to changing needs.
Visit the Broker Services page where you will find useful videos, training documents and articles that can make your life easier.
For more advice and tools to grow your business visit our intermediary advice page.