The Danger of Under-Communicating with Your Insurance Customers: 7 Quick Ways to Know if You're Disappointing Them

Imagine this. Your insurance customers don’t love you as much as you think.

Or, just imagine they don’t love you as much as you want them to.

What does that mean to your bottom line?

Maybe you’re not looking for LOVE from your clients.

But, you do want LOYALTY. That’s where the money is. Because loyalty delivers higher customer lifetime value.

Highly loyal insurance clients deliver:

  • the highest retention – at 97%
  • the biggest insurance ‘wallet’ – 25% more than average.
  • the most referrals – 250% more than ‘neutral’ clients.

Loyalty (or love!) from your clients is worth fighting for.

But, there’s a good chance that you may not have all the loyalty you’d like to have.

  1. Research from Deloitte indicates that 60% of insurance consumers don’t feel they get value from their agent – other than shopping the policy. Further research from them shows that 100%(!) of small business owners would be willing to buy online – and toss their agent or broker off the boat.
  2. Research from EY reveals that 44% of insurance consumers perceive they’ve had NO communications from their provider in the last 18 months! (And 86% declare they are not ‘very satisfied’ with the communications from their provider.
  3. Now put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were a customer of yours, would you be able to say that – other than the policy itself – your life has been dramatically improved by the agency?

Is your agency seriously committed to delivering ongoing value to your customers?

It’s important that you do. Because those pesky insurtech startups plan to do just that: deliver value they don’t think the broker channel does.

Are they a serious threat. A couple of weeks ago, the principal insurance researcher at Forrester told me they are actively tracking over 400 startups.

Surely, some will fail.

Surely, some will succeed.

How? By making yourself so valuable that your customers would never leave you.

But, here’s a big, big problem. You can’t read this blog post, get inspired – and just say, ‘We’re going to try harder.’ (Isn’t your team already trying?!)

And you can’t just say, ‘We’re going to call our clients more.’

They don’t want you to call! According to a survey by a large customer research firm, 84% of your customers don’t want phone calls!

About a week ago, my friend, Bruce Winterburn, VP of Industry Relations at Vertafore, said, ‘Agents need to get comfortable with the same technologies they used to fear. These are the technologies that today’s consumer uses every day.’

Consumers are online. Period.

And, if you’re not (and if you’re not delivering value online), someone else is ready to take your place.

It could be one of those 400 insurtech startups.

Or it could be a quicker, more adaptable broker competitor.

Your online ‘marketing stack’ includes these three ‘big buckets:’

  • Your website. I’m sure you have one. Make sure it’s responsive – so mobile viewers can see it as easily as desktop viewers. (And so you don’t get penalized by Google.) Of course, you can’t just throw a website up and ignore it. Your search engine optimization never stops.
  • Your social media activities. You probably have a Facebook page for your agency. Again, this never stops. (And, it’s still a challenge to measure ROI.)
  • Your marketing automation. This is where you get your biggest ROI. This is the tool that lets you deliver ongoing value to your clients. The best marketing automation for insurance agents and brokers integrates with your management system. And, it automates meaningful communications all year long. (For a free guide on Critical Digital Marketing Trends for Agents & Brokers, click here.)

As my wife has made clear, ‘If you want a relationship, you better communicate.’

Common sense. And, customers feel the same.

How do you know if your agency or brokerage is ready to communicate more to your customers?

The first set of questions you should ask are questions you ask of your own business. First, determine if there is a problem to be solved or an opportunity to be gained for your firm:

  1. Do we communicate to our customers frequently enough? If most of your communications come by passively taking inbound calls, that is no longer enough.
  2. Do we deliver so much value to our customers that they never even consider our competitors? Do you think your customers feel their life is better – or much better – from the information, insight or wisdom they get from you? After all, you have to deliver more than a policy. They can get that elsewhere!
  3. Do we have an active strategy for increasing the loyalty of our customers? If I walked into your agency today, could you show me your loyalty strategy?
  4. Do we have the time and spare resources to proactively round accounts, generate referrals, perform annual reviews, nurture our clients and so forth…without marketing automation? If you think you’re leaving money on the table because you just don’t have the time to pursue that money, that’s a big problem. (And, it’s the very problem that modern communication technology solves.)
  5. Are we achieving the level of organic growth we seek for income and equity value? In an agency or brokerage, organic growth accelerates with the loyalty of your existing book. It’s much, much more cost-effective to keep clients than to get new ones. (See what increased retention will do for you here – and download the free retention tool.)
  6. Are we connecting to today’s consumer in the manner they expect from a modern vendor? Last year, I received 511 emails from Amazon. 212 emails from Netflix. Annoyed? Not a bit. Each one – delivered by their marketing automation system – is designed to add value. And a lot of them do. (And, they’ve cross-sold me a lot of times because of those emails!)
  7. Are we attracting younger, millennial clients? The 83 million millennial generation expects you to talk their language. If you want them, you must start talking to them the way they expect you to. Online.

But, do consumers like being on the receiving end of marketing automation?

First, it’s important to recognize that consumer behavior has changed. Dramatically. Here’s some recent information that indicates just how different the insurance consumer is today:

  • 77% of consumers prefer email to receive marketing communications, dwarfing every other channel Millennials are not the only ‘online generation:’ more than half of baby boomers are online 15 or more hours per week.

Marketing automation is not just about or for personal lines.

As I mentioned above, according to Deloitte, 100% of small business owners would consider purchasing online. While the commercial lines customer becomes increasing vulnerable to new, competitive forces, they are understandably highly receptive to the advice and advocacy possible from the broker channel.

Perhaps the strongest indication of how receptive the consumer is to marketing automation lies in the results delivered to businesses that use it:

So, yes, marketing automation ‘works.’

And, it’s possible that your current ‘insurance marketing system’ is damaging your customer relationships. How? Two ways:

  1. You’re not communicating enough. Whether you want to deliver value once or twice a month – or once every two months – what most brokers do is not enough. Not nearly enough. And that makes your brokerage vulnerable to competitors.
  2. When you do communicate, it’s not giving value. Today’s marketer knows that too many people are saying ‘me, me, me.’ Or ‘Buy Cheap Insurance Here.’ That’s easy. And it’s game you won’t win. Today’s consumer wants to know: if they have a relationship with you, will it make their life better? Will you earn their heart… not just their wallet?


  1. In the broker channel, ‘the money is in the relationship.’ If you’re willing to earn your customers’ loyalty, they will reward you richly. If you ignore your customer after they buy their policy, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. (Hint: if your agency has more ‘customer attraction’ strategies than ‘customer loyalty’ strategies, you’re investing too many of your marketing dollars in the wrong part of the customer relationship.)
  2. Insurance customers want to hear from us more. They’re not satisfied with the current state of communications.
  3. Customers are ONLINE. You must be also. Not just on your website. Not just in social media. But, in their inbox.
  4. High-quality marketing automation automates your communications. And the best platforms treat customers with honor, respect and dignity.

Action Items

  1. Ask yourself if you want to increase retention, revenue per customer and referrals.
  2. Ask yourself if you’re 100% confident in the loyalty of your customers. (How close to 97% is your current retention?)
  3. Explore marketing automation for your agency. Examine three things: the quality of the technology; the quality of the built-in content; the level of ongoing support.

The broker channel is facing an onslaught of new competitors. Prepare now by making your agency irreplaceable in the hearts of your customers and marketplace.

Check out our upcoming events!