If you’re a small or mid-size insurance agency, the pressure to compete with the large national agencies is tremendous, especially considering the building perception of insurance as a commodity. Emphasizing the commoditization is a bombardment of insurance advertisements pushing the “get what is cheapest” message, $5.8 billion worth in 2012 alone, according to SNL Financial.
But therein lays your slingshot: in our world of price wars, the giants can’t always fit through the good-customer-service door quickly enough and many give up too easily. Yes, it’s hard to compete with their massive advertising budgets and corporate call centers, but you can at least throw the proverbial stone at one chink in their armor: learning from what they’re doing wrong and excelling.
According to our recent Insurance Industry Online Buyer Experiences study, which examined the responses of 25 direct, captive, and independent insurance carriers, here are three of the biggest missteps many of the largest insurers in the nation are taking and strategies on how you can compete and win:
1. Many insurance companies completely ignored buyers. 39% of our inquiries never received a call, 34% never received an email and 17% were completely ignored.
What can you do? Show buyers the love they are looking for!
- In a recent survey studying Online Buyer Expectations we found that “no response” can be more harmful to a company’s reputation than “poor service or rudeness.”
- Given buyers are likely to shop around for insurance after a bad customer experience, and especially if no response is given, providing superior service right out of the gate can give you an advantage, even over the largest competitors.
2. Many insurance companies leave inquiring prospects waiting. Ready insurance buyers wait an average of 2.3 days to get a phone response from an agent and often don’t even receive a call back at all. While the average email response time was faster, at 22 hours, there is considerable room for improvement in a process that is so easily automated.
What can you do? Follow up as soon as possible!
- Placing an immediate call (within 60 seconds) with online insurance buyers increases your conversion chances by an astounding 391%, according to research from The Ultimate Contact Strategy conducted by Velocify.
- Sending an initial email within 20 minutes can increase conversion by 49%, according to the same study.
3. Many insurance companies give up on online insurance buyers too soon. In the study, the average number of call attempts per lead was 1.45 and the average number of emails sent was 1.56. Persistence pays off, as the old adage goes.
What can you do? Persist but don’t annoy!
- The optimal number of call attempts is between five and seven (after seven the inquirer often gets cold feet and usually starts to feel harassed), according to research from The Ultimate Contact Strategy conducted by Velocify.
- Statistically, less than half of successful sales deals are closed with leads that were reached on the first phone call, according to the same study.
- This means there is considerable opportunity for sales reps to continue to persist beyond the first two calls, knowing competitors have long since stopped trying.
In summary, it hasn’t been a clear-cut David vs. Goliath fight in a long time; the rules have certainly changed. By simply implementing an insurance lead management system that enforces a consistent, optimized contact strategy with immediacy and persistence as your battle cry, you’ll see that the giants aren’t untouchable. Soldier on, soldiers.
About the author: Stuart Ganis is the director of the insurance vertical at Velocify and a 24 year veteran of the insurance industry. Ganis started his career as a producer in 1989 and co-founded an independent agency in 2000. The agency grew to more than 30 employees and $15M in premium in less than three years and was acquired in December of 2005. In 2006, Ganis launched a consulting practice, helping independent insurance agents in the areas of sales, marketing, technology and operations. Follow Ganis on Twitter @StuartGanis.