Relationship Building 101

August 1, 2012

Technology is ever changing, an omnipresent facet of society in which we all must adapt. Whether it be the iPhone in my pocket, Twitter and HootSuite open in my browser, or the blog I am writing, technology revolutionizes the way we interact and build relationships. This holds true for insurance agencies as well. As technology changes, and rapidly at that, so do the relationships agencies have with their customers. For the Baby Boomers, the “Old-Timers” compared to my generation, the idea of meeting face-to-face with an agent readily available to answer questions and resolve issues at a moment’s notice is appealing. Service becomes a degree of separation between agencies and direct-writers.

On Friday, a coworker forwarded an article to me written by RyanHanley, an insurance agent and marketing wiz that stresses the importance of relationship building advancing as technology does. I perused the article and found Ryan’s observations and assertions spot-on and very easily relatable. He refuses to see insurance as a commodity. Companies like Progressive and Geico have implemented ad campaigns that portray insurance as a tangible good, something the consumer can see, feel, or taste. While for them it has been effective, it is not effective for all. I am a 90’s kid; I have been enduring the ever accelerating advancement of technology for my whole life. In his article, Ryan compares the types of relationships my generation and the Baby Boomers prefer. He finds that Baby Boomers naturally default to the face-to-face, personal relationships with their insurance agents. On the contrary, my generation resolves to technology, using social media platforms to develop relationships with agents and companies before actually meeting with an agent.

While I’m not exactly the spokesperson for my generation, let's pretend for a moment. Ryan strikes down two misconceptions that insurance agencies have of us 90’s kids and the services we prefer. These misconceptions are that we do not value the service agents provide us and online quote services are essential to competing with direct writers. The first perception has some truth to it, but is not entirely correct. My generation defaults to the internet. When there is no other option, we turn to Google searches to guide us. This is where the direct writers come in. Because we default to Google as our encyclopedia of life, finding insurance with direct writers becomes easy and convenient. Ryan writes that insurance agencies ignore the internet and thus ignore my generation. The only company I have seen that directly advertises its Facebook page is E-surance, so I would not know where else to look! Insurance agencies need to get in touch with consumers, market through Twitter and Facebook, to develop relationships with them. I do value the services that insurance agents provide; it is easier for me to develop a relationship over the computer first. We will build a relationship on our terms or we will write with direct writers until we have a problem. We are constantly wired in; our comfort zone is on our iPhones and Twitter pages. Ryan knows it, I know it, but I don’t think insurance agents know it.

Marketing insurance is a difficult task. Everyone needs it, but it is never on their minds unless they have to use it. To add to that, no one likes to use their insurance policy if their car gets totaled or a tree falls on their house. This puts insurance companies in a pickle; everyone needs insurance but who wants to use it? Marketing insurance to teens is an even harder task. I did not even think about insurance until I absolutely had to. Between sports, friends, family, and school; insurance was the last thing on my mind, even when I was buying my first car. I had no relationships with insurance agents other than the agents my parents used. If I had been on my own, I probably would have gone with a direct writer. Using outlets that my generation frequents, Twitter, Facebook, and our favorite TV channels could lead to the foundation of relationships with younger buyers. Ryan, being the young buck insurance agent that he is, knows this and utilizes it, building his book off business through the internet while providing clients of all age groups the relationships they desire.

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