Today, technology is integral to every independent agent’s success. It helps agencies operate efficiently and is engaging clients and prospects, adding convenience, and leveling the competitive playing field. It’s also an essential part of an agency’s formula to attract young talent and create a work environment that will help motivate millennials to pursue careers in insurance.
What millennials want
According to Pew Research, millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. More than one in three American labor force participants are millennials.
What are they looking for in a job?
A recent article by Forbes found that millennials want five things from a job: good benefits that match their values, loyalty to and from their employer, retirement investment options, an ability to prioritize family, and opportunities to make a social impact.
In a Brown & Joseph blog, “Attracting Millennials to the Insurance Industry,” Mikaela Parrick said that “millennials desire purpose above all, so if you want to attract young talent, you need to sell a job beyond just a salary and benefits.” Instead, sell your vision for how these people can impact the industry and their communities.
Millennials also have a natural affinity for technology. After all, they grew up with it. An independent agency without even the basics, from social media to a website to a mobile app and comparative rater, will seem out of step. By investing in technology, your office can become more efficient while also attracting more clients and career-minded millennials. And once there, young talent will bring different skillsets to your business, which may help keep you up to date on the latest technology.
Invest in technology
According to a 2018 survey by insurancedigitalrevolution.org, “Agents have a long way to go to use digital technologies to improve the customer service experience. Few agencies are providing mobile applications (19%) or offering 24/7 service (18%), and fewer still report using even basic service solutions, such as live chat (7%).”
Identify gaps in your current digital technology so that all clients as well as existing and future staff can seamlessly communicate with you. Keep in mind, as technology changes, your staff will need training and mentoring to use it most effectively.
These tools can keep your agency on the cutting edge:
Agency Management System (AMS). The right AMS can result in superior agency productivity and long-term success. Top-of-the-line systems will include proposals, templates, carrier marketing, accurate data and reports to give you critical metrics on the health of your independent agency. These are the features young professionals expect when looking for a job.
Agency Website. A mobile-optimized website is a central communication point, an online hub with branding and messaging that should align with your social media accounts. It is also the first (or second, after social media) place a millennial will look when evaluating job prospects.
A quality website shows your agency’s strengths, features partner carriers, highlights your team and your agency’s history. Share video, photos, and stories from loyal clients and staff to sell and market to clients, and enable dialogue 24/7 with online quotes, live chat capability, and more. The Live Chat feature, or chatbot, can save you from personally answering questions regularly found on your Frequently Asked Questions page, capture leads and give you more time to build new business and manage daily business.
Social Media. Statista recently reported that the U.S. population’s social network penetration rate was around 70 percent in 2018, and that number is only growing. Having an active business profile on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even YouTube is a great way to engage Millennials — and most others — while marketing your services, posting client reviews, sharing agency sponsorships, employment opportunities and more. Don’t try to execute on all social media platforms at once – pick one or two, use them well, and build from those.
Mobile app. Having a custom mobile app may take an up-front investment of time, but according to a recent article in Independent Agent, 21st-century consumers now expect to access their accounts conveniently and at their leisure. Having a mobile app will increase efficiency and provide a method for direct contact with your clients. And millennials use them every day. A number of firms offer templated versions that provide for your unique branding, so the investment doesn’t need to be overwhelming.
Comparative Rater. Integrated with your website, this tool is a timesaver for easy insurance quoting and will also capture new leads 24/7. A comparative rater increases accessibility for your clients and helps you to service them with more proficiency at a faster rate. This is how people shop today. And a solid AMS will include a comparative rater, so additional research isn’t necessary.
Investing in technology and tools will ultimately lead to a stronger, more profitable book of business: Increased efficiency will show carriers, clients, and millennials — potential young talent for your agency — that you have made your business competitive in the marketplace.
Share your vision
Demonstrate how your agency is a diverse place to work in your marketing materials. Share agency flexibility policies and specify whether staff can work from home, have community service days, etc. And what better way to show off these selling points to young talent than on a modern website and through social media channels?
The next evolution
Deloitte’s survey also found that while digital transformations are happening across the country, young professionals don’t feel prepared for the next evolution of technology: 8 in 10 millennials said that on-the-job training, continuous professional development and formal training led by employers will be important to help them perform their best.
How can you show millennials you are ready for the future today? Offer internships, training and mentorships to show millennials how they can personally make an impact and entice them into the industry.
Independent agents who share their vision, invest in technology, and outline roads to growth in the insurance industry will attract more clients and engage a strong staff for a better future.
Matt Masiello is CEO of SIAA, the largest alliance of independent insurance agencies in the country. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.