One of our mantras at Portal Insurance: the only ways we can trump price are speed, efficiency and convenience.
We want to let the customer buy the way they want to buy and do business the way they want to do business.
A recent Facebook report on millennial shoppers found that millennial buyers are actually more open to taking recommendations from an agent than baby boomers are. Millennials are prone to working with an agent – someone who will help them make choices and tell them what to do in the event of a claim.
The holdup is that millennials are all about speed and efficiency. Agents lose younger consumers to direct carriers not just because of price, but because direct carriers make the online purchasing and service process so fast and efficient. Effective, instant communication and digital service are big parts of that.
Whenever we write a new account at Portal, we ask the client their preferred method of contact. In the last two years, every single person has said they prefer text or email. I once had a client who left to work with an exclusive agent, but then came back because he could just text us about a problem and we would fix it, whereas he felt like he had to chase the other agent down – he had to call him and stay on the phone for 15 minutes to resolve the issue.
As a result, a lot of our agency is centered around texting. Our AMS has an open API so we can integrate it with other programs and communication channels. We’re working on an Amazon Alexa skill that would notify customers when their policy is renewing and let them access their insurance cards. We want to be everywhere to make it as easy as possible for customers to find us.
I think some independent agencies are scared of technology, and that’s why they don’t adapt. But all that does is let the direct carriers get ahead. If you take the direct-to-consumer technology and pair that with an agent on the back end, it’s unstoppable. We should all be working to bridge that gap.