The life insurance industry stands out in its ability to get close to its customers. But it’s the insurance advisor who has the ability to make or break that customer experience.
That’s according to Sarah Schmidt, who is conducting a workshop on “Your Competition Is Not Who You Think It Is” today at the LIMRA Distribution Conference for Financial Services. Schmidt is director, product management, assessment and development solutions at LIMRA.
Schmidt’s presentation focuses on how the industry and advisors can adapt to consumer demands for a more personalized experience.
Although more consumers purchase products and services online than ever before, Schmidt said, those online channels are not really competition for the individual advisor. Instead, it the sales experience itself that can make the difference between the consumer who wants to buy life insurance and the consumer who actually makes the purchase.
“Our research has shown that despite advances in technology, people still really want that face-to-face interaction. But the way the world is working now, consumer expectation is so much higher and we really have to up our game to meet consumer expectation,” she said.
“We run the risk that if we don’t meet those expectations, then we will have a mass of consumers who are not insured and not protected.”
So what are those consumer expectations?
Today’s consumer, Schmidt said, expects their experience will be personalized to their unique needs. Consumers want to form a partnership with advisors instead of being subjected to what she called “a blanket product push.”
Advisors will need an understanding of what different segments of the consumer population want.
For example, she said, LIMRA research shows that one in four members of Generation Y don’t trust anyone with money matters. So advisors who want to serve Gen Yers will need to know that prospects in that age group will come to the table with trust issues.
The life insurance industry’s ability to have those face-to-face conversations with its customers is one of its strengths, Schmidt said.
“Other industries don’t get close to their consumers in the way we do,” she said. “We know the hopes and fears and troubles that are out there in a really intimate way. But it’s going to be up to our representatives to make or break that customer experience going forward.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@innfeedback.com.
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