It’s one powerful word. It’s the foundation of any positive relationship—whether it’s with your spouse, your friends, or your customers. But as an independent health insurance agent or insurance agency, how do you build trust with your potential customers in today’s digital world?
It’s ok not to have an answer. In fact, if you asked a thousand different agents, you’d probably get a thousand different answers, each with overlapping themes and ideas that keep the industry alive today. So, let’s examine what trust really means, if anything, in today’s digital world.
Right now, individual consumers have more power than ever when they need to find health insurance or compare different types of health insurance. Back in the year 2000, about one out of every two adults in America used the internet. And “used the internet” meant an entirely different thing back in the age of dial-up modems and companies like Amazon just beginning to emerge as online retailers. Today, almost 9 out of 10 U.S. adults use the internet according to the Pew Research Center1.
And, use it, we certainly do. From requesting a ride to keeping up with the latest news, and shopping for health insurance, it seems like every exchange we make can now be conducted online—and trust is integral to all of this.
A simple internet search can provide today’s consumer with a wealth of knowledge about you and your agency. They can compare pricing, comprehensiveness of coverage, and find the best value for their money from other agencies and insurance companies across the nation.
This is why it’s so important to build and maintain an agency brand, and even more important, a personal brand that conveys trust.
“Brand and branding are one of the most important aspects of growing a business and are the absolute last things independent agents think about for the most part,” said Ryan Hanley2, Chief Marketing Officer at Bold Penguin, a leading Insurtech company based in Columbus, OH.
As insurance professionals, it’s often easy to take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to branding: maybe you build a website that works as a digital billboard for your business; you do the same on social media; fire off a few posts about the benefits of doing business with you; but in the end, your online presence is an afterthought. The ultimate goal is to get those phones ringing and people insured.
“Your brand is your overarching concept and should define who you are as a professional and who your firm is in an overarching way,” said Marty Agather2, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Innovator’s Edge. “It needs to be coordinated, contiguous, and all related so that when I (the customer) see your brand and I see who you are, those two things mesh.”
Simply put, your personal brand needs to reflect your agency’s brand.
But how does trust play into all of this?
As an agency, you can build trust before the customer even interacts with one of your agents over the phone. For example, you can build a robust website filled with testimonials* from current or former customers. On that website, you can host a blog with posts written by your agents to educate and empower your potential customers on different types of insurance plans, benefits, and any limitations or other considerations in a way they can understand. You can share those posts on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages to grow your presence as a thought leader online.
But this all costs time and money, two things some independent agencies need more of, let alone have any to spare. Big health insurance companies like UnitedHealth and Blue Cross Blue Shield can spare the time and money to build big online campaigns to humanize themselves by educating and empowering the public with the end goal of growing revenue. While you might not be able to replicate these big-budget tactics, there are certain things you can do right now to build a foundation of trust between you and your potential consumers.
The first thing you can do on a personal level is making yourself reachable. The last thing someone wants from the person selling them something as important as health insurance is for that person to virtually disappear after the purchase. Whether it’s a simple “You can always reach me on my personal line and I’ll be sure to respond within 24 hours” or making a public social media profile with your smiling face and full name followed by your agency’s name—there are small steps you can take to build these trusted relationships.
Here’s something to think about—74% of consumers research insurance purchases online, yet only 25% of them actually purchase online. So, where do the remaining consumers make their health insurance purchases? According to this infographic by DialogTech…
Over 60% of health insurance consumers make their purchase over the phone with an agent3.
That’s why you have to think on a human level—why you have to think of yourself as a personal brand when it comes to building trusted relationships with your customers. We won’t get into the details of cold-calling, but think for a second—am I truly living up to the values and ethics my brand stands for? Am I fully listening to this person’s needs? Am I trying to influence or inform right now?
While sales are vital to any business, it’s certainly worth thinking about how you approach those sales and the customer relationships that come with them.
At the end of the day, we’re social creatures. Our relationships with other people make us who we are. As an insurance agent, you get the opportunity to foster new relationships every day while looking out for the lives and well-being of people from all walks of life. By keeping honesty, transparency and trustworthiness as you guideposts, you might be surprised by the benefits you’ll reap from this mindset.
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*Your state may have specific requirements about the content of testimonials. In general, they need to be accurate and reflective the customers’ experience (so they can’t be edited to appear like the client is saying one thing when actually they are saying something else) and they cannot create an unrealistic impression of what someone else should expect. When an agent (or insurer for that matter) use testimonials, they take them on as their own and that means they have to meet any other advertising standards. Additionally, how old a testimonial is is another issue to be aware of. If it’s several years old, it may no longer be an accurate statement. We suggest testimonials older than a year to be discontinued..
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- “Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/
- “Can Independent Agents Build Trusted Relationships in a Technology-Driven World?” Ryan Hanley. https://www.agencynation.com/can-independent-agents-build-trusted-relationships-technology-driven-world/
- “Shoot for Higher ROI: The Best Way to Optimize Insurance Marketing in a Digital World.” DialogTech. https://www.dialogtech.com/expertise/infographic/shoot-for-higher-insurance-roi-with-phone-calls