Insurance is an industry built around relationships. It’s an industry that sells advice, guidance and protection rather than tangible products. We connect with our clients, care about their homes, their livelihoods and do what we can to ensure they’re able to get back on their feet when things go bad. But with technology driving the world into an uncertain future, that connection doesn’t seem to be happening with the younger generation. The question is why?
Thirty-something former broker, Ryan Hanley says that the industry’s refusal to look beyond the myths about millennials is holding it back.
A broker for eight years, Hanley has heard first-hand the rhetoric around selling to a disengaged generation and has made it his mission to help the industry break through what he believes are self-imposed boundaries.
‘I am very passionate about the ideas I believe in and my personal vision of how brokers can succeed through technology’, says Ryan. ‘When it comes to insurance, my vision quest is destroying the misconception that insurance is a commodity and helping insurance brokers capture the connected generation.’
Busting some myths
A believer in the idea that technology and personal service are wonderful bedfellows, Hanley says there is a gigantic myth circulating throughout insurance that is holding it back.
The myth is this - millennials don’t value the independent service insurance brokers or advisers provide, preferring to go online and buy direct from insurers.
According to research by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), contrary to popular opinion, millennials aren’t as tech savvy as they’re made out to be and need to be guided through complex processes and ideas — just like everybody else. What differentiates millennials, though, is that they are outcome driven.
‘You can’t ask millennials to start at step one of a seven-step process. They need to see the result. So, start at the end, and share how your steps help them reach the desired outcome,’ says Jason Dorsey, Lead Millennials Researcher at CGK. ‘They are not tech savvy. In fact, our generational research discovered that millennials are not tech savvy but tech dependent. This is a huge distinction everyone from managers to marketers needs to know.’
As a card-carrying member of the demographic, Hanley agrees and wonders if the prevailing myth is built merely on the ideas of the insurance industry’s leaders rather than the reality.
Exploring the idea that millennials place no value on independent advice, Hanley suggests the argument that, ‘Millennials associate anything with a broker as more work and more expensive and because they grew up with computers and want to buy through computers’, holds no water.
‘When I hear or read something that is expressing this viewpoint, I cringe’, admits Hanley.
The problem, according to Hanley, isn’t that millennials don’t relate to brokers but that brokers don’t relate to them.
‘Too many of us are sitting in our offices ignoring the internet, marketing as if it’s nineteen seventy-nine, and selling with the same tired pitch we’ve always used. Coverage this … Price that … Review once a year whatever … It’s all crap.’
Hanley tells us that millennials know that technology allows insurers to provide great coverage and a competitive price. He says that for the connected generation, price and service act as a barrier rather than an incentive. So what does attract the connected generation?
The customer experience
What do millennials want from you? For many, this is a really difficult question. But Hanley says the answer is simple: they want the same thing that all of your other clients want — a relationship. It’s just not the same type of relationship.
He says the biggest reason most brokers struggle to capture the hearts, minds and dollars of the connected generation is because they are ‘unaware, unable or unwilling to provide the type of relationship that millennials seek. I tell people that millennials don’t want the same type of relationship that baby boomers want, they want a different type of relationship all together.’
As a consultant to the industry, Hanley sees brokers — large and small — struggle to come to terms with selling insurance to people who ‘make insurance-buying decisions based on conversations they’ve had on Facebook.’
Many of the brokers he works with trot out the same tired tropes: ‘We work on referrals and have been successfully doing business the same way for 30 years.’ ‘Why fix something that ain’t broke?’
Why indeed. It’s easy to see why those tropes exist, but the issue, according to Hanley, isn’t that the system needs fixing, rather, it needs replacing. A new demographic needs a new model, one that relies on technology.
With its hand firmly wrapped around ours, technology is already a huge part of our lives and it is only going to become even more entrenched in everything we do. The connected generation use it as a tool not to replace relationships but to facilitate them and this is something brokers need to embrace, not be afraid of.
‘Millennials want a relationship and they are going to seek out that relationship with whoever is willing to provide the relationship. But here is the trick: as long as that relationship is provided on their terms.’
He adds, ‘Currently, direct insurers are the only real players willing to provide millennials with the relationship they want. But there is hope, as they stink at it.’
Millennials want customised, authentic content. They want to feel like you’re providing a service tailored to them. That, according to Hanley, is where the largest opportunity for brokers lies.
He believes brokers need to develop their online presence as an extension of the relationship building they’re so good at face to face. By providing basic advice and then following up with a tailored attentive service, brokers can show their true value.
‘The independent insurance broker value proposition is not coverage, price and service’, says Hanley. ‘It is ensuring the customer has a better experience doing business with you. Or, at its simplest form, it’s showing you care.’