Agents and brokers love email, agent portals and ease of doing business with their carriers, according to a new report.
But they detest product limitations, bad services, shoddy tools, complexity and the unexpected change, the consultant group Noverica found.
The biggest change in the industry is the ubiquity of email — that communications protocol that predates the Internet and social media -- as the preferred medium to communicate with customers, underwriters and customer service representatives.
“Email has transformed the way agents do business, becoming the default channel for many interactions with prospective customers, current customers and underwriters,” said Novarica’s agent/broker survey titled “What Agents Really Want,” published last month.
Responses were compiled from 150 agents and brokers: 117 mostly in the property-casualty space, 30 focused mostly on the life, health and annuity sector, and three focused equally on both sectors.
Agents, who were polled in the third quarter of 2015, were based in 43 states.
When conducting business with commercial customers, agents say their preferred communication channel is face-to-face, then the telephone, then email. Paper communication comes in a distant fourth, followed by social media and texting.
When conducting business with individual customers, however, agents and brokers say their preferred communication channel is the telephone, then email, then face-to-face interaction, the survey found.
As with commercial customers, paper-based communication comes in a distant fourth followed by social media and texting.
More robust email infrastructure — faster email servers, higher transmission capacities and tighter integration of email applications within the desktop suite — also deserves credit for improving the experience with email management and networks’ ability to handle larger files.
Investors Just as Serious About Phone, Email
The seriousness with which agents take phone-based and email-based communications is seemingly matched by the seriousness with which clients take those communications.
The No. 1 reason investors leave advisors is because advisors don’t return phone calls or respond to email in a “timely manner,” according to separate research published in 2014 by Spectrem Group, a consulting firm that focuses on affluent investors.
George H. Walper Jr., president of Spectrem Group, said “timely manner,” which used to mean days, now means hours.
Portfolio performance and investment losses rank far behind unreturned calls as reasons clients fire advisors, according to Spectrem Group’s research.
The 2014 survey found a strong correlation between a client’s net worth and the speed with which that client expects a return message. In other words, the wealthier the client, the faster the response, which would stand to reason given that more assets — and higher fees — are potentially at stake.
Spectrem found that one-third of ultra-high-net-worth clients with between $5 million and $25 million, expect a return call within two hours. Another 38 percent of those ultra-high-net-worth households are content with a return call within three to five hours.
Only 32 percent of ultra-high-net-worth households would be satisfied with a call returned the next day, the survey also found.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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