Ecclesiastical Insurance investigates how brokers are interacting with customers and how new communications channels can help drive business growth.
In 2017, Ecclesiastical commissioned a series of research projects to gain a deeper understanding of the support brokers want from insurers, enabling Ecclesiastical to provide tailored solutions to its broker partners.
The latest piece of research focused on customer contact. In a competitive market, differentiation can be a challenge. With this in mind, the research examined the way brokers interact with their customers to strengthen relationships and deepen their own knowledge of the markets they operate in.
The research found that two thirds (64%) of brokers were happy with the level of engagement they currently have with their customers, however a third (32%) admitted they do not have enough time or people to dedicate to relationship building.
It also found that entrepreneurial brokers are finding new and more efficient ways to engage with customers. Some 41% said they had used email to reach customers for the first time in the previous 12 months and a fifth said they had used social media channels Twitter (21%) and LinkedIn (22%) as new ways to reach out to customers.
HAVE YOU CHOSEN NEW WAYS TO TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS IN THE LAST YEAR?
27% Paid for ads
24% Direct mail
21% Regional press
Adrian Saunders, commercial director at Ecclesiastical, comments: "Regulation changes, such as the impending Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), coupled with increased competition, can put real strain on a broker's resources. So being smart about how and when they contact customers can be a real advantage. Email and social media are great tools to reach high volumes of potential and existing customers."
However, almost a third (29%) of brokers told Ecclesiastical they only contact their customers once a year and the majority only make contact to discuss renewals or upsell products.
"It can be tempting to just push out sales messages and hope you get a few sales but, particularly in the social media arena, being part of the conversation, demonstrating your own expertise in the market and building those key relationships can be much more fruitful and provide more opportunities to grow your business in the long term," explains Mr Saunders.
Being specialist and expert is something that Ecclesiastical has used to its own advantage, carving out a reputation for its in-depth knowledge in its core markets: charity, heritage, education, art and private client, as well as the schemes market.
"We are a specialist insurer and our strength is our expertise in our niches, which enables us to provide real, compelling solutions to clients, backed up by commercial insight on the issues and risks they face. The expertise of our teams can be a real benefit to brokers and can be tapped into for the benefit of the client," says Mr Saunders.
Social media channels can be a rich source of information on the issues and concerns of specific customer groups, as well as potentially opening up a whole new customer base. Even the smallest of brokers can reach potential customers across the whole country, quickly, easily and cost effectively.
Mr Saunders explains: "From talking to our brokers, we know that social media is an area they would like to explore but often don't know where to start. So we've been working with experts in this field to develop a range of tools to support our brokers and provide solutions they can easily implement in their own businesses."
Some 29% of brokers said they wanted help with social media from their insurance partners, so Ecclesiastical has released a series of tools to help brokers develop their own social media channels. The kit includes a tips sheet for brokers who are looking to develop and boost their LinkedIn profiles, and a short video on how to use PR and social media to boost your business.
"We've listened to the feedback from our broker partners and are finding new ways to support them. Alongside these tools, we are also working with some of our brokers to deliver an accredited introductory training course with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which will equip them with a recognised social media qualification and the confidence to develop their own social media plans," concludes Mr Saunders.
The research was commissioned by Ecclesiastical in March 2017 and undertaken by independent research company FWD. A panel of 250 brokers from across the country were surveyed by telephone.