In the recent PC360 webcast sponsored by Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance, three Agent for the Future Award winners shared their experiences of growing their agencies with digital.
Jeff Roy of Excalibur Insurance, Majda Baltic of Majdas Touch Insurance and James Castell of Castell Insurance also shared advice for how other independent agencies can successfully implement digital tools.
Watch the full webcast
Here are some of the big takeaways from the conversation:
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation
Each of the panelists had a different background with digital. Roy described himself as a “digital immigrant” – someone who grew up before digital tools were widespread but has fully jumped into investing in his agency’s digital capabilities in the last 10 years.
Baltic, on the other hand, shared how frustrated she felt with the limitations of technology when she was a captive agent. When Baltic launched her independent agency, she built it to be completely digital from the start.
Castell is a digital native who has helped his traditional family agency adopt more digital tools.
All three panelists stressed that insurance agents don’t have to choose one model for going more digital. Every agency is unique and will have its own approach to digital adoption.
Roy said that while it takes time to become an expert, agencies can learn from what other agencies are doing.
“As an agency owner, your job is to take the best of everybody’s approach that works for you,” he said, “things you can take and harness and make your own.”
Give clients options for communication
Baltic said her agency grew during COVID-19 lockdowns in large part because they were available to clients while other agencies were closed. Digital makes it easier than ever before to stay in touch with clients, she said, so it’s not acceptable to be unresponsive.
This may mean adapting to how the client wants to communicate.
“Every customer is different and the way they want to communicate is different,” Castell said. “Some people definitely still want to meet in-person. Some people only want to text.”
Agents also shouldn’t assume which form of communication will work with which customer. Castell’s agency does a lot of work with Medicare clients, who are 65 and up. He shared the story of a time his agency was trying to get back in touch with an 83-year-old client. They called and emailed and could not get through. It turned out that that they only way they got a response was through text message – at 8am on a Saturday, no less.
Since the agency had the ability to text that client, they were able to get his policy done just in time for the deadline.
Take the first steps
When asked their advice for other agents who want to adopt digital, all three panelists stressed the importance of just taking the first steps.
“You’ll never be fully ready,” Baltic said. “You just have to pull the trigger and go.”
Agency owners should identify areas where digital investments will save them the most time and money, she said. And once they start with a digital tool, they should take small steps and try to be consistent.
Castell spoke to his experience of learning how to use video in his agency. His early videos were pretty cheesy, he said, laughing. But the more he made videos, the more he learned and the better they got. He encouraged agents to take baby steps and find mentors to answer their questions.
For his part, Roy adopts the mantra of “launch, fail, learn, fix.” You can’t wait until something is perfect to launch, he says. At some point, you have to get things out of the door. The key, he said, is to adopt the mindset of a child – always willing to learn and grow.