Communication — as the saying goes — is key. That is true for any type of relationship, including your agency’s relationship with your customers. Communication has changed in the digital age and insurance agencies need to adapt to these changes in the way people communicate with each other.
While phone calls used to be everyone’s preferred method of talking with each other, that has changed now. And even though many people claim to want face to face contact, it seems that electronic messages on various platforms are the best way to go.
Obviously, you should make sure that customers opt into any form of communication that you offer, but if they give you the green light, these four types of digital communication can be quite handy for reaching your customers.
(Almost) everybody texts.
You’re far more likely to have customers who text rather than ones who don’t, so you might as well embrace the texting culture as a business communications model.
Other types of businesses, like automotive shops, have invested money in communications systems that text customers updates about their appointments and the progress of the service on their cars, according to automotive service industry trade magazine Ratchet + Wrench.
“People want to communicate by text, whether they want to admit it or not,” says Chance Webb, owner of 1st Chance Tire and Automotive in La Vergne, TN. “I think people say they want face to face, but with text, they answer back within seconds. It’s been by far the single biggest change for the good that we’ve made throughout the years. I’ve yet to have a customer who didn’t like it.”
While insurance agencies are much different than automotive shops, they can still benefit from texting customers. Items like meeting confirmations and reminders can be handled through automated text messages. Ongoing conversations with customers that require more customization can be handled by any device that is connected to the agency’s texting communication system.
Emailing is probably the most common form of digital communication and it’s an effective way for customers to interact with brands, including insurance agencies. Especially for products like insurance, emailing is a more official form of keeping in touch with customers.
According to a report from ecommerce communications platform Narvar, more than 80% of shoppers prefer to receive emails from brands while nearly 40% want brands to communicate with them via multiple channels.
You will want to make sure that the owner of the email address is confirmed and you should consider email encryption for any correspondence involving sensitive information. This basically makes the emails unreadable to anyone who does not have the encryption key for them.
Obviously, the customer will need to ensure that they direct your emails to their inbox so they stay out of the spam folder.
Email is ideal for sending longer form messages that would be cumbersome in something like a text message. People can read them on their phones and respond immediately or later when they have more time.
Push notifications are messages sent (or pushed) to customers independent of email or text on their mobile devices via a business’ app. People do not have to be signed into the app or even using their device to receive them. They act kind of like text messages, but the messages themselves usually appear as a banner somewhere on the screen. Essentially, they “push” past everything else to be seen.
They are used for a variety of purposes, such as delivering sports scores, weather alerts or itinerary information to people, along with delivering promotional information about deals. If your agency has an app that has a high download rate among customers, push notifications might be a better option than text messages. But, you have to get your customers to download the app and opt into the push notifications to make them worthwhile.
Like texting, push notifications are better for short form messaging that only involves a few words. You should also note that people are not able to respond directly to push notifications, so they are only good for outgoing messages that do not require a response.
What social media platforms you choose to be on will be dictated by your customers. You can survey your current customers to find out which platforms would work best and then come up with a strategy for using them. Don’t feel like you need to be on every popular platform, as some of them are inevitably going to be a waste of time if your customers aren’t using them.
The name of the game on social media is engagement. As insurance isn’t the flashiest content generator, you might consider having a blog that provides helpful information and then using your social media platforms to distribute your blog posts to your followers. You could also use it to provide information about any events you are holding and forward anything that may be of interest to your customers like weather warnings, information about break-ins in a given neighborhood, etc.
Some customers will likely try to engage with you on your social media platforms and use them as a form of customer service, so make sure you answer any questions that are being asked and address any concerns that are brought up. Some businesses specifically run their customer service through their social media, requesting that people tweet them or contact them on their platform of choice.
Keep in mind that social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter are public forums, so you’ll want to be cognizant of that if you are engaging with people on them. Disputes should be moved into a private message as quickly as possible.
Chatbots pop up when a person visits your website to help with inquiries they may have. It is important to be upfront with people that they are talking to a bot and not a real person, otherwise you may frustrate them. Some chatbots actually are manned by real people and if you can arrange it, having a real person on the other end is a nice surprise for people who have specific inquiries. You can have the chatbot help the visitor initially and once you have a better understanding of what they are there for, have a live person take over. They are especially helpful with providing after hours customer service on your website.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, you have to adapt to customer demands for new and convenient ways to communicate with them. One way to ensure you keep your insurance agency on the cutting edge of digital communication is to use an agency management system that puts a focus on customer engagement. Evolution Agency Management software has been tailored to be flexible, easy-to-use and, most importantly, customer-friendly. Your customers will never be far away with Evo. Please visit us to book a demo today.