How Critical Is Insurance Agency Response Time?
The Answer May Surprise You.
According to Insurance Journal, insurance shoppers now consider timeliness to be the most important differentiator–above efficiency, professionalism, and knowledge–when purchasing insurance. Yet, it may surprise you to learn that only seven percent of companies have a response time of five minutes or less.
In this post we are going to look at agency response time as a factor of customer service to determine if responsiveness affects generation of leads. Keep reading to find out why response time is so important, get some tips on how to boost your own response time, and learn about a cool, new, free feature to make your response time visible to you and your potential insurance customers.
Did you know that a response time of greater than five minutes results in an 80% decrease in the odds of qualifying your lead? Consumers consider timeliness to be the most important characteristic when working with an insurance agent–setting businesses apart even more than efficiency, professionalism, and knowledge. These high expectations from consumers, as well as advances in technology, means response time is no longer measured in days or even hours but rather minutes and seconds.
Consumers are constantly comparing response times of services across all industries–and insurance is no exception. The truth is, not many people are going to wait on you if someone else responds sooner. As 2019 comes to a close and 2020 begins, insurance agents and carriers should be making customer service, and more specifically response time, a priority.
Why Is Response Time Important?
Studies have shown that you run exponential risk of losing prospects if you are not getting in contact with them within five minutes. Although that may seem quite quick, the instant gratification that comes with technological advances actually means that five minutes isn’t that quick anymore.
So at five minutes, what exactly is an exponential loss? How much are we talking about?
- 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to them first.
- When potential leads are contacted within the same minute they submit an inquiry, the increase in sales conversions is 391%.
- If your response time falls between 5-10 minutes, the odds of qualifying your lead drops by 80%.
However, aiming for more speed can’t mean sacrificed quality. There are steps that must be taken to accomplish both, and agencies have to be intentional and thorough when improving on this aspect. Shortcuts aren’t an option.
If You’re Not First, You’re Last.
With the advancement of technology, especially the Internet, buyers have changed. People are doing major research on products or services in which they are interested, and they are reaching out once they’ve completed that research and are ready to purchase something. Just like shopping at Amazon, consumers are looking to (almost instantly) buy a product, add it to their cart and check out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in insurance, but the mindset is the same: research, find, buy, DONE.
The quicker your agency helps customers jumpstart this process, the more likely you are to win their business. If a potential customer is reaching out to you, they are ready to talk to you. You’ve got to be ready to respond to them–now.
Additionally, customer expectations (in general) are high, and agencies must keep pace to meet those expectations where they can. The ease that online retailers have brought into consumers’ lives is at play here, meaning agencies need to be adept at the use of technology, which is ever-increasing in speed. There are steps you can take, utilizing technology, that can help you have a faster response time.
- First, make sure your website is a true conversational search engine, with secure messaging and AI tools (bots). This allows more time for staff to interact with existing clients and potential leads.
- Second, look at things you are already doing and ask yourself if there is a way to cut performance time on any task, even the smallest or most menial tasks.
The insurance industry also faces the challenge of reaching the millennial generation, which is soon to be the group with the largest buying power. Utilizing the latest digital tools, including artificial intelligence and messaging, will help attract this generation, giving them the resources they need to be contacted how and when it fits into their lifestyle best.
How to Improve Your Agency’s Response Time
In addition to having a faster response time, when and how often you respond to your leads matters. Put simply, be quick to answer phone calls, frequently check and respond to email, give the customer several ways to get in contact with you, and never give up after one attempt to contact a potential customer. Here are a few ideas for consideration.
Guard Your Communication Outlets
Put someone in charge of actively monitoring your phone system and social media direct messaging accounts for your business profiles. This allows you to answer questions quickly for prospects, with minimal effort on your part.
Automate Your Communication
Facebook even allows users to set up simple automated responses to FAQs. This is a great way to have a quick response time without having to implement any new tools. It also frees up time on the agency’s part, because no one is having to watch the phone all day to filter incoming messages.
Another effective use of automation is setting up an automated voicemail for your main agency line. This will answer the phone quickly, guide customers to whom they need to speak, and allow you to do a little agency promotion during wait times.
Incorporate Artificial Intelligence
If you are able to communicate with a lead while they are actually on your webpage/social media page, you are likely to catch them while their interest is peaked. The best way to do this is with a live chat tool, such as an instant messenger. This is a great way to lessen the risk of losing the contact to a competitor, or as the result of a slow response time.
Side note: the vast majority of companies–over 80% in one survey–do not have a live chat feature on their sites. This is an opportunity to give you an edge over your competitors.
Keep Engagement High
Along those same lines, consider adding software or plugins to your website that allow the prospective client to instantly connect with a business or sales rep–this will result in more sales conversions and/or bookings for your agency. This can also help solidify that you keep your responses within that precious five minute threshold. Do whatever you can to ensure your leads don’t need to leave your website to find what they are looking for somewhere else!
Have an Email Marketing Plan in Place
If you don’t have email automation, get it. Emails are a great way to gain loyalty with potential clients before you are able to reach them by phone and help you follow up with leads at regular intervals to keep your company top of mind. This strategy will also keep your engagement high among current customers, who will see email communication as a customer service initiative.
Implement Internal Processes
Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page and working well together. This will help your entire team run efficiently and make it easier to smoothly transition from a digital lead to a personal connection. The goal of each smaller team is the same; everyone needs to be working together towards sales success. If this is an area needing improvement, some practical ways to jumpstart this is to employ shared workspaces, utilize instant messaging apps, have teams job shadow other teams, and hold team meetings or even more social gatherings amongst teams in order to foster some positive bonding.
Utilize Resources Already Available to You
In your existing toolbox, as a starting point, you should have instant messaging, automated responses to messenger, and email automation. If you are lacking any of these, now is the time to add them to your arsenal. Technology is an ally in this industry, so utilize it for all its exponential worth.
Use This Tool to Convert More Leads Online in 2020
Now that you know the facts about response time and have an idea of how to improve yours, you will need a benchmark–a starting point–to compare your improvement in responsiveness over time. That’s where the Bee Responsive Bot comes in.
The Bee Responsive Bot, a free, response-tracking bot from BriteBee.com, showcases your average response time to your potential customers via your agency website and email signature. This maintenance-free technology will display your responsiveness in real time and show how quickly you respond compared to other agencies. The lower your average response time, the more impressive it will appear to a customer looking for instant gratification.