The best place to start in evaluating a potential acquisition is with you and your own agency. If...
Why an Independent Agent?
Know, Like & Trust
That’s why I chose my Independent Agent.
We all do business with the people that we know like and trust – it is human nature.
This is true in every part of our lives. It applies to big purchases like a home right down to the coffee you buy from your favorite local coffee shop. Price will influence those decisions, but the experience is what gets you there and is ultimately what drives your behavior. Where and who we buy our insurance from is no different. It all comes down to our customer experience.
According to a recent article in Small Business Trends, 82% of consumers indicated that they stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer service. 47% will take their business to a competitor within a day of experiencing poor customer service, and 60-70% will stay with a company if a customer service issue is handled fairly even if it does not go in their favor.
We want to do business with the people we know like and trust. In many cases, that will lead you to your local independent agent, and here is why.
Independent agents typically do 80-85% of their business in their community and the surrounding areas. They are heavily invested in their local community, and because of their involvement, service, and commitment in their communities they are extremely well known. They support local charities, sponsor teams, coach local little league, and they give their business to other local business owners to support the local economy in addition, they take an interest in knowing you as their customer. Their ability to know you, your family, and understand your unique situation gives them the ability to understand your coverage needs in a much deeper way than any online questionnaire. They can advocate for the coverage that fits your needs, communicate why the data and analytics may not reflect an accurate picture for your particular situation and ultimately they are able to marry their insurance expertise and personal knowledge to provide you with the best coverage options.
When you are purchasing insurance, it is more than a product, you are also depending on someone to give you solid advice. This type of advice requires expertise and knowledge specific to your situation. Many times, it may require a visual inspection of your property, business, or environment. While much of the underwriting that occurs in insurance is data-driven there are human elements to the process that cannot be replaced, and in many cases that human element can make all the difference in the world. When you chose to do business with someone in your community, they have the opportunity to gain knowledge about your situation that no online option could ever capture.
In addition, your personal experiences and your relationship with that person will help you evaluate the trust that you are willing to place in them. Those experiences give you the opportunity to understand their values, knowledge and overall approach and make sure that it aligns with yours. You are able to experience first-hand how they operate, so if and when you need them the most you can be sure that you, your family and your business will be well taken care of. As a consumer it is important for you to weigh the decision of who you want to do business with, and your interactions and experiences play a huge part in that process. When you are deciding who you want to trust to ensure that your family, property, business, and overall financial well-being is well protected it should be someone that you have confidence in and trust.
Real life examples
When my daughter was getting ready to drive, our agent provided us with information to help us decide what type of car to purchase for her. I knew enough to stay away from expensive cars as well as old cars with out-of-date safety features, but I had no idea that some make/model cars have much higher rates due to their likelihood of being stolen. He provided us with sound advice that helped us make the best decision within our budget. When my older daughter was hit by another driver and found herself in a situation where she was talking to a police officer for the first time in her life – she tried to reach me, no answer. She tried to reach my husband, no answer. She called the number on her insurance card and reached our agent’s office. My agent was traveling but, my daughter was clearly shaken up, so the person who answered her call got in touch with our agent and he called her immediately. He was able to reassure her and talk her through the situation. He cared, and it made all the difference in the world to her, my husband and to me. These are the types of situations where the benefits of doing business with people you know, like and trust are what’s most important. This type of experience cannot be replicated in any online transaction and are difficult to quantify until you don’t experience them.
Setting the right expectations
Every touch, phone call, visit and interaction either strengthens or weakens a customer’s experience. As consumers we all have expectations on how certain interactions should go including the manner in which we expect others to treat us, response time, quality and level of advice that we expect to receive, and the overall time we expect to spend. I never in a million years had the expectation that my agent would respond the way he did to my daughter’s situation, but I sure am thankful that he did. When we do business with someone who communicates clearly and sets the right expectations our experience is much more likely to be positive. Again, this level of communication is much more likely when you do business with someone you know, like and trust. We all know too well how frustrating it is to sit on hold endlessly or only have the option to press one to be connected to a person you’ve never met. This is not the experience you want when you have experienced a loss.
Given the uncertain times that we are facing, now more than ever it is important to not lose sight of the key factors we all instinctually rely on when deciding who to do business with. It may be tempting to shift your focus to price, or something that seem much quicker or even easier to complete, but that choice can lead you to experiences, exposures and losses that can greatly impact you and your family. Losing the human element in this decision is not ideal especially at a time when you need your agent the most. Insurance is much more than a product, it is also the advice and knowledge you gain from an expert that you know, like and trust.
Independent agents are the experts that we know, like and trust.