What is the core value proposition of an independent agent to the marketplace?
In my opinion, it's a human touch, expertise, and trust factor that simply can't be mimicked with a purely digital experience. From my tenure in training hundreds of agents, this was a primary talking point when in the trenches and winning business from the "internet" carriers.
There are dozens of carrier-related studies that further magnify the point of, millennials who over the past five years running have made up the largest segment of homebuyers in the US, prefer to work with an agent when it comes to insuring their largest personal asset, their home. What does this mean in the process? It's moving all of their protection lines to be handled by that same human agent.
How are agents generating these opportunities to make their personal brand known to prospects? They are highlighting their value propositions through referral partner relationships and social media brand awareness. The prospect goes through the sales cycle, constantly reminded by the agent of why working with a human is to their ultimate benefit. In the end, the agent wins the business based on the rapport that they have built with the client, and everyone is happy. BUT WHAT NOW?
This is the point in the process where we have gone WRONG as a channel. Now what happens is we RIP the client away from the agent's brand, forcing them into a service experience of the unknown. We present them with unusable technology and confusing accord forms, unreliable and inconsistent carrier technology and a hole left where the fuzzy feeling of when they bought used to be. WHY?
What this has done goes beyond relationship abandonment from the consumer's perspective, no what we have actually done is ruin the ability to leverage that agent's relationship with their client to actually EARN REFERRALS. And we wonder why clients feel turned and burned. We scratch our heads as agency owners, perplexed why that initially satisfied client is itching to send their friends and family over. Maybe we took that chance away?
The answer is this, my friends...keeping the service experience with the agent is the KEY! Not from a service work perspective because I am 100% for agents not handling service work, but from a digital service and branding experience. When clients think of service, they should be able to pop open their agent's app from whom they bought from, achieve what they need with a few clicks, oh and by the way, refer their agent to a couple of friends while they are at it! The relationship still and should always live with the agent.