Popular author, speaker and thought-leader Seth Godin recently posted a blog entry called The 77% Threshold that addressed innovation in a way that made a lot of sense to me. He recounts the introduction of the first gas car—it wasn’t an immediate improvement over horses. Roads were rare, gas stations scarce, and the cars themselves were still unreliable. With every jump in technology there’s an initial period where the new system is catching up to the current standard. However, Seth suggests that when the system is 50 percent as effective as the old one, that’s when we should be learning and understanding it. By the time the new tech is 77 percent as effective, we should be creating new products or approaches that incorporate it. If we wait until it catches up, we are either part of it, or we are too late.
I agree with everything up to that last line—it’s never too late. Innovation is constantly improving, looking for ways to make us faster and better at what we do. What innovation doesn’t do is take you out of the process. In other words, you are still in the driver’s seat but instead of driving down a long bumpy road, incorporating a digital end-to-end solution has you driving on a smooth blacktop highway with a couple of strategic rest stops along the way.
Life insurance brokers have always played a crucial role in guiding clients through the complex process of purchasing life insurance.
When the first end-to-end digital life insurance solution burst onto the market eight years ago, many brokers believed it was purely a direct-to-consumer alternative for people who didn’t want to buy their life insurance with the help of a broker. Another common misconception was that a broker could send a customer the link to an application and then just sit back and watch the sale happen.
The reality is that life insurance will always be a product that is sold, not bought. Whether a customer decides to investigate life insurance at the suggestion of a banker, realtor, financial advisor, or a pop-up ad on a website selling diapers, it’s a long trip down the funnel and the best results will always be achieved when a knowledgeable broker is actively involved and at the heart of the process. Incorporating digital solutions doesn’t change the foundation of a broker’s role, but it amplifies your services by helping you to reach more clients, provide guidance where needed, to deliver a more enjoyable purchasing experience and to solidify customer loyalty.
Three Key Client Touchpoints that Surprise and Delight
Today’s broker can leverage technology to simplify, streamline, and improve the life insurance purchasing process for clients. Consumers in general expect an enhanced level of customer service. Shorter attention spans and curated content have led to heightened expectations for policies that are customized to the individual’s needs and that may be approved within hours—not days or weeks. These advances, however, cannot replace the value of a trusted counselor and advisor, and the best result will always be with a broker firmly in the driver’s seat and in control of the process.
Touchpoint #1: Money can’t buy time, but technology does buy convenience…and we have all come to expect this whether it’s same-day Amazon delivery or remote monitoring your front door. By sending your customer a link to their life insurance application you are giving them the convenience of filling out their application when and where it best suits their schedule. At the same time you fulfill your role as trusted advisor, overseeing the process and remaining ready to jump in if the customer has questions, needs advice, or would like help with labs. If your client hasn’t worked on their incomplete application for a while, you can monitor, nudge, and help move the process along, always staying in control.
Broker bonus #1: Giving your client the freedom to fill out their application frees up time that you can more efficiently allocate toward sourcing new prospects, fostering client relationships, or pursuing lucrative sales opportunities.
Touchpoint #2: While the process differs among carriers, the best have engineered a platform so that you, the broker, are the first person to receive your client’s offer details. If the offer is not as good as expected, you receive advance notice to prepare for a potentially sensitive conversation, adjust the offer down to fit a budget or to research options before you inform your client.
Conversely, if the outcome is the same or better than expected, you can edit the offer up to a maximum eligible face amount or change the duration and receive immediate approval without re-underwriting or amendments.
Broker bonus #2: Being able to adjust the duration or face amount of an offer with almost instant approval gives you an unprecedented ability to fine-tune offers and close the sale the same day.
Touchpoint #3: On the occasions when it is not just a simple immediate issue, the broker is also the first person to receive notification if the client is declined. This gives you a cushion of preparation time so that you can pivot to a more suitable option or plan before informing your customer.
Broker bonus #3: Having viable alternatives ready for your client increases the likelihood of retaining your customer’s business and providing them with some level of protection for their loved ones.
Elevating Service and Providing Education
The advent of digital platforms has empowered brokers to provide an elevated level of service while also enabling clients to enjoy a faster, more convenient and enjoyable experience.
As long as life insurance remains a product that requires personalized advice, experience, sensitivity and sometimes rather creative thinking, the broker will always be needed in the driver’s seat. However, by leveraging technology, brokers can now provide their clients with intuitive interfaces and interactive tools that make the experience more accessible at a time and place that best suits the client’s schedule while also providing education and information.
Offering relevant resource materials and growing a client’s financial literacy is another facet of a broker’s role that is enhanced by new digital platforms and online platforms. Among respondents who did not feel knowledgeable about life insurance, only 17 percent had coverage in place, according to a 2022 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) and Life Happens. It stands to reason that consumers who feel uninformed about life insurance are likely to avoid the subject altogether or feel embarrassed and unwilling to discuss their options face-to-face. Brokers who have faced this particular barrier can now leverage online calculators, tools and resources to help their clients feel more comfortable and willing to explore options and discuss a wider, long-term financial strategy. Yet another way brokers and online solutions are indeed “better together.”
Let’s Raise the Bar Together
Digital end-to-end solutions have brought about significant advancements that aim to streamline and enhance the life insurance purchase process, strengthening the relationship between brokers and their clients. While life insurance remains a product that requires positioning, digital platforms enable brokers to engage with their clients and guide them through the process in a faster, more convenient, and more enjoyable way. As we embrace technology and end-to-end solutions in the market, brokers will continue to be in the driver’s seat of the purchasing journey but with better tools to make the ride faster and smoother than ever before.