South Africa, 23 June 2020: Right now, individuals and businesses are needing to rapidly adapt to uncertainty, despite limited information caused by COVID-19. This inevitably causes gaps in risk planning, which calls for an evolving response and fluid risk management approach. Intermediaries have a pivotal role to play in terms of being a reliable resource to clients during this time. That requires shrewd adaptation, so service levels never falter.
Andrew Coutts, Head: Intermediated Business at Santam says, “While sales activity has reduced, it is still possible for intermediary partners to operate successfully and continue servicing clients via digital portals, over the phone, and by using conference-calling tools that have become almost universal since March.”
Coutts adds that now is the time for intermediaries to amplify their advocacy for clients, “Focus on the effects of the crisis on your clients and relay these insights to insurers to add value back into the insurance chain through the co-creation of new, necessary innovations. For example, based on an intermediary’s feedback, a need for on-demand and other behavioural insurance products may be identified due to clients travelling less. Intermediaries are perfectly positioned to spot these opportunities.”
In a fast-evolving crisis, intermediaries have an opportunity to position themselves as the go-to resource for their clients. They play a very critical role in identifying new information, distilling it, and translating it in ways that provide tangible and actionable insights for clients.
Coutts says that now is the time to reach out to clients and ask them what kind of information and offerings they would really value right now. “Send out regular surveys to assess what’s working and what’s not. And distribute relevant news updates to stay top-of-mind. Now is the time to humanise interactions and strengthen relationships by anticipating people’s needs and proposing solutions.”
How to pivot online
In terms of adapting offerings to quickly pivot online, Coutts suggests that intermediaries:
- Incorporate your insurers’ digital assets as part of your client servicing model
- Provide clients with self-servicing options directly on insurer systems
- Incorporate a WhatsApp business account as a transactional platform for handling client queries
- Make your website your shop front. Keep it – and your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts – regularly updated with information
- Create a call to action (lead and sale generator) on your social platforms
- Present webinars on key topics; propose solutions to collective problems South Africans are facing
How to adjust offerings
Regarding changing clients’ plans to adjust to the pandemic, Coutts suggests that intermediaries introduce significant savings by tailoring insurance needs to the risk environment; for example, reconsider theft and liability risks and up cyber cover while people work from home.
“Strengthen your value proposition by showing your clients how to restructure their cover to reduce premiums. Encourage clients to decrease their cover and take up premium relief efforts, when appropriate, even if it means a loss of commission earnings. You can also showcase your risk coaching ability by helping clients to identify, understand, and manage and transfer some of their risks.”
In conclusion, Coutts advise that having a frictionless digital experience is paramount to achieving a high level of client satisfaction. “Ensure your online servicing model integrates seamlessly and enables the client to process as much information as possible on a self-servicing basis. Now is the time to maintain a positive approach and recognise that chaos creates opportunity. By pivoting online, you could significantly strengthen your business model for the long-term.”