Insurance is one built on a promise; a promise which is and continues to be established and nurtured through communication with insureds. However, the face of that contact has shifted.
An economist once said we all have a fetish with the glamour of innovation which results in an underinvestment in maintenance – that as technology has advanced, it has blurred the lines of necessary communication with our insureds and prospects.
To illustrate this point, I need only to state the following statement:
“ Run! The phone is ringing”
Before the intellectual and technological advances we have all become accustomed to, the marketplace in which we operated was quite different. Some may remember when phones were in glass boxes on neighborhood corners versus glass boxes in our pockets. Or when it was administrative staff versus digital displays that screened our calls. When insurers, agents, brokers, and their associated human capital traveled the landscape detached from modern communication conveniences. Remember paper maps, anyone?
It was an era in which our fight or flight responses would go off every time a phone rung because every conversation was an opportunity to solidify relationships. Historically, a book of business was bound because an agent would establish a relationship with a family, and the book would continue through the growth of a family tree. Sons or daughters insured with the same agent as their parents and, in turn, their children would insure with that agent or agency and so on and so on.
As a result, opportunity costs were measured against the likelihood of missing phone calls. “ Do I go to lunch or eat in the office?” Measurement resulted in the an intense focus on maintenance of relationships and operations. Let us now move to the present.
Innovation has not only cut us from phone cords but also to confines of the brick and mortar office. With modern conveniences like scheduling, phone calls, and gps, the boundaries of our communications are now limitless. With convenience and glamour also comes the option to control our availability and means of communication. Be it text, voice call, FaceTime, IM, or email.
Sweeney (2006) found that Millennials, the growing presence in our workforce, are prolific communicators as they love the flexibility, mobility, and constant accessibility or inaccessibility. Thus, opportunity costs are now dictated by the recipient versus the initiator. A prime example is: how many times do we have to attempted to contact a prospect shortly after a text message to just end up with a voicemail or a call silence button versus picking up? No longer are we running to catch calls before the ringing stops, but running free to pick and choose when we will be accessible. However, does our new freedom come with consequences?
Since we now dictate our accessibility, are our relationships just as fleeting? Since both consumers and insureds are no longer tethered to the notion of familial relationships and doing as our predecessors have done, have we in essence made sustainability more difficult? Only time will tell as more and more prolific communicators take prominent roles in various organizations. But just remember, as we continue to “run” free with the newest tech, remember to sometimes “run” to the phone and say “hi, this is Opportunity, how can we help each other grow?”
Sweeney, R. (2006). Millennial Behaviors and Demographics. Newark: New Jersey Institute of Technology, 12(3), 10.