How did insurance become a commodity? Did it happen before people started getting quoted online and could even bind online with direct writers? It’s really had to say but more than ever, the value of the service that agents provide is at risk. The only way to stay positive about the decline in agent-client relationships is to understand Millennials and form relationships with this demographic. And to do that, embracing technology and the Internet is the first step. Here’s our guide to winning over the generation that is resistant to conventional advertising.
Who Are Millennials?
These folks were born between 1980 and 1994, when many of the agents reading this article were already out there selling. The irony of the Millennial is that most Millennials don’t identify with the word “Millennial.” Interesting, right? Don’t call them that.
What Defines the Millennial Mindset?
Millennials grew up during two economic declines and the rise of technology. They boast three times as many stay-at-home dads than the generation before them. They also demand a balance between work and life and are more educated than their predecessors. Millennials are deeper in student debt while being more conscious of the importance of saving for retirement. They are also buying homes much later in life and even moving back in with their parents after college to save. They aren’t all really young either. For many insurance agents early 30s is the perfect age.
How Do Millennials View Insurance and Insurance Agents?
According to a poll by ORC International, only 24% of Millennials use a local insurance agent while 67% buy directly from insurance companies. Why is this? For many reasons but mainly because they don’t think insurance agents leverage technology and are therefore difficult to communicate with. This age group has grown up listening to Progressive and GEICO branding and messaging their insurance lines so they have no idea what benefit a relationship with an agent could have when they can buy insurance directly from the carriers.
None of this is coincidence. How many of you reading this article are not familiar with the GEICO gekko or Flo from Progressive. The largest carriers have spent millions of dollars branding themselves so it’s no surprise that Millennials are buying directly. They are also very price-conscious, after seeing their parents struggle during two economic downturns. Referral programs with this disengaged group fall flat too, because Millennials distrust corporations and don’t value insurance agents enough to go out of their way to promote a brand. However, they may promote a “friend” or friendly acquaintance. In general, they have no exposure to agents and therefore see little value in what they do. Many Millennials believe they can do the work of getting insured on their own. No matter how many times agents say they don’t charge a fee, Millennials assume there’s a fixed fee in there somewhere (a commission) and therefore assume it’s more expensive to use an agent than go it alone.
Basically, Millennials no longer view insurance agents as gatekeepers but as obstacles to lower prices. They view agents and agencies as used car salesmen who are known to offer heavily padded prices. Millennials also don’t like to wait for days to get a quote. Visiting the office is unheard of, and they do not like filling out forms, especially twice. If they can, they will also avoid talking on the telephone. When they can, Millennials will get quotes and bind online, even without researching alternative options. Millennials are an impatient bunch that’s why using direct call services from a company like SmartFinancial will reap a healthy ROI.
How Can Agents Win Over Millennials?
Building relationships is very important to Millennials and it’s what insurance agents do best. If a Millennial can trust you, (s)he will stick with you. If you give that person a positive customer experience (personalized attention), you’ve already won half the battle.
You can also engage this disengaged group by playing in their playground: on the Internet. According to Think with Google, 87% of Millennials turn to search engines (mainly Google) to solve problems and answer questions. They do this before making a phone call or going to a shop. This is why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important if you have a website. You may be able to engage this difficult-to-pin-down demographic by answering their questions in blogs. If you don’t turn up in a search at all, a millennial may shut you down before you even had a chance. According to a study by Elite Daily, 62% of Millennials say they’d become a customer if the brand engages with them on social media.
Sell Renters Insurance
Knowing that renters are buying later in life (and older homes, due to lower prices), it makes sense to nurture these important relationships, even if renters insurance is not the biggest money-maker.
Create Brand Ambassadors
Hire assistants as “brand ambassadors” who will infiltrate Millennial network groups and social networks to teach them about the importance of the right insurance products. Millennials are more prone to trust “one of their own” rather than an agency.
The more a Millennial sees your name online, the more they will trust your brand, especially if you are able to generate positive reviews. Millennials trust what others are saying about you more than trust you. So, leverage those happy clients by getting them to review you!
Get a Facebook/Instagram Account
Seriously, we’re saying that you are twice as likely to get attention from Millennials by simply starting a page. Don’t let it sit stagnant though. You must get people to “like” you too to earn Millennial trust!
Pick Up the Phone!
The number one reason that leads die is that no one answers the phone. You will lose this impatient demographic if you aren’t answering phones and letting voicemail take over. Also, if you’re buying leads from a technology agency like smartfinancial, be patient and remind the prospect why you’re calling. A Millennial is apt to fill out a form for insurance but not know why you’re calling (yes, even when you’re responding to a form they filled out that day!). Not only that but you’ve got to make your service available after hours and on weekends too. This could mean a self-service portal with login on your site, which allows users to change information. It may mean hiring someone for after-hours help or even a chatbot. More than ever, consumers are demanding that work be done on their time, not yours.
Tell your story or the story of your agency. Why have you been doing this for so long (really, what makes you get up in the morning?)? Who are you? Who is your receptionist? More importantly, Who are your clients and what are they saying about you? What charities do you give to? Create website pages as well as social media posts (yes even videos) drawing attention to your authentic story about yourself.
If your selling strategy has been to confuse and coerce, it’s best to rethink your tactics with Millennials, who will not buy a product if they don’t understand. No, insurance is not the easiest thing to explain to folks, especially young folks, but it’s part of that authenticity this demographic trusts and appreciates.