Account Manager, HNI
Note: This blog post earned Kara the Outstanding Customer Service Representative of the Year Award from the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin! Please join us in congratulating her!
Insurance professionals now live in an era where technology plays an integral role in their daily activities and paper trails are ceasing to exist. Insurance brokers, carriers, vendors and employers are turning in their paper files for cloud-based applications that can be used anywhere there is internet access.
Some may see things like the internet, instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter as a way to tarnish their personal relationships. What they don’t realize is that those tools can enhance their relationships with clients and vendors. Technology significantly expands your ability to create unique experiences for your clients by allowing for almost instantaneous responses, greater networking capabilities and new ways to relate to the next generation of business owners. Change is never easy, but those who don’t embrace technology will soon find they are at a disadvantage.
Now, this does not mean you need to run out and buy the iPad 2. However, there are things you and your organization can do to stay ahead of the game, and even change it. Let me guide you through a few points.
Stay on top of industry news
First off, start by subscribing to RSS news feeds, alerts or blogs pertaining to your client or prospects’ relevant industries. Discover the source of hot topics in their industry before your competitors do by receiving Google Alerts. Not only will this give you a competitive advantage, but you will now have knowledge of what is going on in your client's or prospect's world instantly, as it happens.
While insurance placement and servicing still remains a valuable component in your client’s business plan, technology will make you more effective in guiding your clients through strategic planning. Knowledge is power and being able to speak their language will show that you care more about just winning a new case or retaining commission, but that you truly care for them and their livelihoods.
Stay up-to-date with clients and prospects
“Like” or “Follow” your client or prospects on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. More and more companies are creating Facebook and Twitter pages and what better way to support them in their efforts than to ”Like” and/or ”Follow” them. In turn, they may even follow your organization’s Facebook or Twitter page which could lead to new connections and prospects. In addition to subscribing to RSS news feeds and blogs, these social media tools can also lead to valuable information that can help you service your clients or gain new ones.
If your organization doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter page, recommend to your marketing team that you create one. Be cautious of what information you put out there to start, but know that other organizations use these tools to learn more about you and your business. It can be the start of a new relationship before meeting or talking to someone on the phone and create more “warm” calls and leads.
Enhance transparency and collaboration
Become more accountable and be transparent with your clients by utilizing new social collaboration tools like Open Atrium. Open Atrium is an open source software that provides internal and external collaboration where you can create blogs to share ideas, assign tasks and create projects. Both your organization and clients can utilize this tool together to discuss new ideas, strategize and assign tasks for upcoming projects.
Let your clients see all that you do for them by allowing them to log into a website to see all upcoming projects and tasks and who on their insurance team is assigned to them. And if you need something from your client, you can assign them a task. Let them be held accountable for the pieces of information you need from them to get the insurance part done. Use the blog functionality to collaborate on new strategies that you create for your clients. Instead of waiting to schedule meetings, you can instantly share your ideas with your clients and show your value more frequently.
Make life easier for the people you serve
Make your clients and prospects life easier. Technology is fast and can streamline several processes. Take the piles of papers and drawers of files away from your clients and prospects by educating yourself on various pieces of technology. Enable your clients to make their job less stressful and much more efficient. For example, if your client’s current Human Resources Department has paper files, multiple spreadsheets with employee data, and paper election forms for open enrollment, suggest a robust Human Resources Information System (HRIS) that can do it all like ADP or Oracle. Having a partnership with a vendor that specializes in this can secure your relationship with your clients. They can utilize these offerings, but only if they are working with you. It offers a means of retention but shows that you care about your clients.
It is inevitable that technology will continue to take the world by storm and become more and more a part of our daily functions. Be sure to educate yourself and stay current as technology evolves. Technology can secure and progress your relationships with clients and vendors if utilized the right way. Not everything may be a good fit; however, it is crucial to understand technology and how it plays a role in your client’s wants and needs.