The Insurance Agency Trendsetters Podcast

Episode 039

2023 Outlook: Challenges and Opportunities Facing The Insurance Industry

Jan 25, 2023

George Robertson and Charlotte Hicks look at some of the main challenges facing agents this year and three ways to be successful in 2023.

#039 — George Robertson and Charlotte Hicks look at some of the main challenges facing agents this year and three ways to be successful in 2023.
They talk about:

  • ChatGPT by OpenAI and potential benefits for agents
  • The long-term impact of developments in cryptocurrency
  • What to expect from the hard market and anticipated recession
  • How insurance coverage could be affected by pandemic court cases
  • Challenges finding staff and the role of a remote workforce

Plus, three tips for positioning you and your agency for success in 2023.


Hosts & Guests

Charlotte Hicks

George Robertson

Full Transcript:

Note: This is an auto-generated transcript which may does contain errors.

Charlotte Hicks: Welcome to Insurance Agency Trendsetters podcast. This is Charlotte Hicks and I’m here with George Robertson, and we’re kicking off our 2023 podcast season. George, it’s great to see you again.

George Robertson: It’s great to see you, Charlotte, and I’m looking forward to 2023 to see what’s out there and the issues that we’ll face as we go into this new year.

Charlotte Hicks: I tell you, we started this podcast — I think it was right before, right at the beginning of the pandemic. And what we’ve been through the last three years has just been unbelievable. The changes we’ve seen in the industry the challenges we’ve had and this year is no different.

We’re facing some new things that I think all of our listeners may be dealing with in their own agencies.

George Robertson: Yeah, I agree, Charlotte. We’ve been through a phenomenal amount of change in the past couple years with the pandemic and, working from home, remote work security issues that we faced in that particular aspect.

And now we’re looking into the economic impact of that as we go into 2023. And that could be a potential recession, hard market things of that nature in the insurance world, or just some of the things that we’ve got to think about going into 2023.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. Why don’t we start with ChatGPT. Really the hot topic right now.

CErtainly I see it on Twitter and elsewhere. People are talking about chat, G P T. So let’s jump into that right away, because that is really a hot topic right now. So what are your thoughts about it and what are you seeing? Then, I’ll share mine later.

George Robertson: Yeah, I’ll tell you it, it’s amazing.

It really is amazing. I remember taking artificial intelligence in college and talking about robots and how that was going to impact the world as we move forward and now, We have generated some incredible technology with open AI from Elon Musk and Sam Altman, who started this couple years back, and they’ve released the API to, to that piece that they’ve created.

And so with that being said, that’s where Chat G P T came from. So what chat. G P T allows you to do is to type in a topic and then the AI goes back and it writes that information for. , which would’ve been really great and useful back in the college days when you’re writing a research paper .

Charlotte Hicks: Right?

It really changes the Google search because you would go into Google and you would search and you get all of these responses. Not all would be relevant, but with chat G P T, you can really hone that search down into exactly what you’re looking for, which is a game changer.

George Robertson: Oh yeah, it is.

And I’m sure that Google’s a little concerned about this at the moment. And, I read the other day that Microsoft was looking to put in potentially billions of dollars into this so that they can get a majority interest in open ai. And then they could really take this to a whole new level.

And search would change. It would change search.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s interesting. There have been people that said, oh, this is going to replace, there’s so many this type of business, this is going to replace in the copywriting world, they’re saying, oh, this is going to replace content writers.

but it’s really not, it can certainly help you get started on an article. I know before we got on this podcast, you and I were playing online with Canva, which now has an AI interface and it does giving it a topic and it threw up. We said give us five points on profitability, and it did, but that wouldn’t be your article and it doesn’t have examples from that your market or your customers would engage with.

So it’s a great place to get started, but I still believe that there is value in that human interaction and that humanizing that. Content, but it certainly can help you do this more quickly if you’re trying to get some blog articles on your blog or if you’re trying to get information it certainly can help.

But what are some other ways chat, g p t or these other artificial intelligence tools might be helpful for agents?

George Robertson: I think, for me personally, writers block, when you’re sitting there trying to figure out what do you want to put out there on your social media you can type in. A generic statement and then it’ll give you the topics to talk about, and then you can start from that point then that therein lies the human creativity of it, right?

So we get back in, we get the five topics, it gives you some outline of what you need to say or do, and you can go back in and maneuver that or change that wording or put some examples in and make it into a much better. Presentation, but it helps get you started. All those times I sit back in college or wherever you’re trying to write a paper or do, or get some thought out and then it hits you and you start writing and you just take off and you go this way it gives you preliminary input points of what to talk about. , and I think from, here again, the social media aspect blogs on your website, things of that nature, questions that could be answered that clients might call in and say, Hey, look what is comprehensive insurance? Or what is collision insurance, or what is other than insurance?

And they could type that in and it would give them a response back. But do note, and we should note even Sam Altman said this in a tweet a while back. This is not perfect. This Open AI is a brand new tool. It is not a perfect tool, so you really need to be careful. When you type something in that you just don’t take that information and post it out there for people to see.

You really need to go in and evaluate to make sure it’s correct. Spell grammar, whatever. Check the facts, but it does give you the starting point, and that’s the thing that I love about it, and I think it’s going to be a game changer as we move forward in the, in, not only in our industry, but in many industries.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. So I’m wondering if there would be a point where you could put. A, an account, a type of business. Let’s say you have a fuel oil dealer and you say, I need a commercial package policy. What endorsements should they have on the policy? And it would actually go out and tell you to give you a checklist of endorsements to consider.

I’m wondering if that’s something that we may see down the line.

George Robertson: absolutely. I think that, here again, you just need that database of information in into open ai so it would know that it could pull that out. Research it and then put it back to you from that request. I think that’s the key.

Right now if you look at open ai, I think there are five sources where they pulled the data from Wikipedia being one. I know they did, they crawled the web and they’ve got three other sources that they used to pull the data in. So there’s 570 gigabytes of data out there on open AI at the.

And that from this predecessor is a lot larger than what they had before. So as we continue and that database grows with the information that it contains, I think that’s going to get better and better. And to your point especially in the insurance world, that would be phenomenal. I think we’re going to see a lot of these InsureTechs and a lot of the larger vendors in our industry start looking at open AI in the chat G P T, and how do they use that in their product mix, and what impact is that going to have?

So I think we’re going to see integration in that as we move forward in 2023 and 2024. And we’ll see more from , Sam Altman and Elon Musk. And Elon’s got a lot of other things on his plate at the moment, so probably more from Sam than we would be from Elon . Yeah.

Charlotte Hicks: I, it is definitely something I’m watching and we’ll be doing a lot more investigating on from the marketing side.

And and we still have the big topic from last year, which was web three and Right. The blockchain and other things related to that. Obviously crypto has had. Quite a bit of a hiccup. Quite a hiccup that has right’s, a crisis. There’s a major crisis in crypto market. It’s not gone.

It’s not gone away. It’s kinda like it had its first so first crisis development, and that will resolve. And we’ll have the new upgraded version coming along. But, so certainly those things are still out there as well that will impact the agency. It’s interesting I read something The other day from Raoul Pal from Global Macro Investor, and he was talking about you can either bet on the past or bet on the future, and there are people that will say, yes, there’s problems with crypto.

And yes, there’s challenges with blockchain and Web three and chat G P T and all of these other eight, no AI and all of this, but long term it’s going to get figured out and this is where we’re going to be. And then there’s the other people that say, I want to go back. Pen and paper and , no technology at all.

And you have to make that choice as to where you’re going to go. And frankly, your business, I think, would struggle to survive if you tried to bet on the past.

George Robertson: Agreed. Agreed. I totally agree with that, Charlotte. And we need to be, with staffing and people coming to the agency and current staff is really educated on the fact that change is going to always be there and we’re always going to see change in not only our industry, but other industries.

And we need to be prepared for that and willing to learn and to read and to educate our employees and to move forward and take that challenge.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. Another thing we’re dealing. As you had mentioned, that certainly impacts agencies and may cause agencies to need to make some changes is we’ve got a really hard market, particularly in property insurance and especially where I am in coastal property insurance.

We’ve got, the potential of a recession. I saw something yesterday that said that there’s predictions of a hard. Not just this gentle muddle through exactly thing. Yes, insurance can be resilient through that, but our customer, not all of our customers are resilient. As business owners, we need to be aware of what we need to do to protect our business and to strengthen our.

George Robertson: Yeah, agreed, Charlotte. And I think it’s, just educating our clients on what’s absolutely, what’s taking place in the economy and how that’s going to impact insurance, their rates and creating a hard market. So it may be. Difficult to find coverage for certain types of property or whatever it may be.

And that’s something that we really need to make sure that we’re letting them know ahead of time so that they’re prepared for it. Because they’ll come in the office and say, oh, my insurance went up by whatever percentage, or, and, can you, Re shop this, and then you have to explain. We’ve had prices of lumber go up.

Prices of all different types of automobile parts have increased supply chain issues. I was speaking with somebody the other day, they were trying to order a car back during, in the pandemic timeframe. It took them two years to get the vehicle. . And then they didn’t get exactly what they wanted.

They had to compromise a little bit and give in on some of the feature set of the vehicle. And they finally got it a couple of months ago and they were just like, that was just crazy. But those are the things we’re. Encountering today, and we need to make sure that we educate our clients on what’s going on in the market.

Charlotte Hicks: And then, one thing that this is the sort of thing that Remember Stewart Powell at the independent insurance agents in North Carolina. This is the sort of thing I would love to just sit around and pick his brain about. Two is how Covid is impacting insurance coverage. And as.

Lawsuits start to wind their way through the court. What coverage is going to be extended for some of the things that have happened over the last three years that people never anticipated would be covered? Whether it’s business income, whether it’s workers’ comp, whether it’s other coverage.

I think those provides some big challenges for agents and may require us to reevaluate how we cover some of our, particularly our commercial clients. .

George Robertson: Yeah, that’s a good point, Charlotte. And I think the expert on that would be our friend Stewart. Stewart has quite a bit of knowledge in that arena, and we should probably reach out to him and just say, Hey, come on board with us for a little bit and let’s talk about this and share with our listeners what you think some of the impact would be.

But I totally agree with that, that, and there’s going to be some unforeseen things that we haven’t even thought about that are going to come out of this, especially as far as lawsuits are concerned.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. Yeah, unfortunately. So another thing related to the pandemic is that, and your office did a great job with this of shifting to a remote work environment, and we had your podcast where you talked about that episode.

Really did that well. But now it’s interesting because. For example the agency that I previously owned is still all remote. Other agencies are a hundred percent back in the office, and, but I think the majority of them still have some type of hybrid model. Yeah. Where people are mixing. And certainly our customers are, I’m seeing more and more hybrid businesses where people aren’t neCEssarily in the office every day, but they’re not at home every day.

George Robertson: And I’ve experienced that, especially with our InsureTech vendors, Charlotte as you’re speaking to them for support or other issues, even sales, they’re working from home. They go in the office a couple days a week but a lot of what they do is from home and you get that work home mix. I’m a true believer still that we need that human interaction in the office space to communicate and kind of fine tune our skills in that arena.

But working from home can be very productive if implemented it correctly. And we’ve got the tools today with voice over IP, with the systems that we have, that we can check to see what people are doing on any given day making sure the workload is getting created and finished. We’ve.

Document management systems that we can go in and check to see how many documents that they’ve touched or closed out or moved or whatever they may have done in the document world. But I think you’re right, there is a hybrid model now where we didn’t have that before. And here again, if we run into another pandemic, which I hope we don’t or some other issue hopefully this time we’re better prepared and I’ve seen a.

especially insurance agents instead have just going out there and really put some effort into working from home. The security piece, the voice over IP, how do we get access to our management system? How do we move documents around the office? And as I stated in the, in our earlier podcast, we had a plan for this.

long before it, it hit. So when it did come in and we looked at it for more of a disaster relief plan.

Charlotte Hicks: You’re right. Agents that had considered the catastrophe issue were better prepared because they had a plan, at least to do it short term and then, yeah. And I, short term just became longer term.

George Robertson: And where they came from for us was Katrina. We were talking to and doing some consulting work with some agents down in the Louisiana, Mississippi area, and they were going through, Incredible disaster that created. And then it just started making me think if that happened to us, how would we handle that?

, and so then we just put a plan in place. And then when this hit, we just executed it and it worked out fantastic. We really didn’t have a blip at all. People were at home. They had their internet connections, they had their laptops, they had voice over IP connections. We called in via Zoom and had conversations once a day in the morning to see where things were going and having discussion.

But I did find that as we matured through that piece, And it continued. I had employees begging me to say, can we come back to the office? I want, yeah. I need that human interaction. I need to talk to people.

Charlotte Hicks: One thing that I have discovered, because I do a lot of seminars and teaching, and I do them both in person and online, and I have discovered.

That, it’s really nice to be able to do your CE your continuing education updates online. So you can just sit in your comfy clothes and you just watch it , and you don’t have to get up and go somewhere and travel, especially if you’re in a smaller town, you don’t have to travel to another town, spend the night, whatever to do the class.

But on the other hand, it’s very, it’s much more tiring to do it online. . So what I have found that you can get about four hours. But after four hours, it’s almost too much for people that you, if you’re going to do, for example, a 16 hour class, it’s really much better to do it over four days than to try to slam eight hours one day and eight hours the next.

Even though you could do it in a classroom setting for some reason, it just is more tiring to do it online. And I, I don’t know why that is. But I’ve just noticed that. So yeah, they’re definitely, I think, and people were, were starved I think for interaction with people when we had such a severe lockdown.

I, I think there’s a blend there that you can find a good spot.

George Robertson: Yes. And I’ll tell you, I think your attention span when you’re working on a Zoom call, drops and when you’re in a classroom and you’ve got interaction with other people in the class and you’re going back and forth and the instructor says what do you think about this particular issue?

And then somebody starts talking, then you’re back and forth talking about it. That works better, I think, in person than it does on a Zoom call. Cause then the other thing with the Zoom piece is you may be talking over top of each other, not meaning to, but that’s just the way it seems to work when you’re Yeah.

When you’re online versus when you’re in the classroom. .

Charlotte Hicks: Although it’s interesting the continuing education classes I’ve done online are getting four to five times the attendance that we were getting in. . So it does open the door for a lot more people. And I think the actual answer is you need to do both, right?

It’s, you can certainly do both. And, that also brings in that issue when we’re talking about this hybrid work method of, one of the reasons some companies have had to allow remote workers is that’s the only way they could hire people. They’re are people that are only willing to work remote.

George Robertson: I have had so many agents talk to me about trying to find staff and how difficult that is today. And even, to the point where they call somebody up to get an interview and they don’t even show up for the interview or they come in for one day and they’ve gone the next.

But yeah, the remote worker piece does allow us to jump into that. And that even goes back to some of these. Virtual agents that people are using out there today that might be in, in even other countries.

Charlotte Hicks: Exactly. And that’s actually one of the big advantages of remote work is that it does allow you to search a much larger area to find that perfect employee that you need because they may not be available.

George Robertson: Great point Charlotte, and I’ll tell you that, that is fabulous cuz you’re right on that. If we can find somebody in a bigger market, because take example, where we’re from, small area, you used to be manufacturing all the manufacturers gone. And nobody with an insurance license anywhere around. Okay? If you find that, that is just an absolute miracle.

So you have to bring people in, you have to train them, you have to send them to get their license. That takes time. And you work through that process where if you could find somebody remotely that could come on board and answer the phone calls and do the things you need to do that as an insurance license that is just a great benefit to the agency.

And I think more and more agencies are doing this. As I talk to agents across the. They’re like, we do have what they’re going to call virtual agents. Now some of those are in the us, some of them are in other countries, but they talk about that and talk about the remote people that they’ve got on staff.

And they have them on their website. So if you go to their website, they’ve got a photograph of them, just like they’re in the office, tells a little bit about them. And so when you call in, you know who you’re speaking with. And I think that is a great way to help us to solve some of these issues we’re facing.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. I think sometimes these offshore remote workers, virtual assistants whatever their title is, have gotten, sometimes have gotten some criticism because they weren’t able to help. The customer when they called. And that’s the key. If you’ve got someone that can help the customer, they don’t care where that person is.

Yes, they’re, their problem, they have a problem they need solved. If they can get that problem solved quickly and easily, they’re happy. , so however you can provide that is fine and it’s good.

George Robertson: That’s, yes I agree. And I think that, and the key is getting that, finding that right individual from the remote side that can jump in there and do that.

And sometimes maybe some of these people are retired and they want some extra work, just to do something a couple days a week or a couple hours. And the remote work may not be just answering the phone calls. It may be some backend work, Charlotte, that they’re doing on renewal processes or checking Certificates or checking new business that’s coming in to make sure things were done correctly.

So there are other aspects of that can be tied into the whole remote work.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things when you’re doing this remote work that I think is important and makes it. Work for the agency is if that remote worker knows your agency’s culture. And this is what brings up what I think so many companies miss out on, which is a really clear brand for their agency.

George Robertson: you’re the expert on branding Charlotte. People tell us about that.

Charlotte Hicks: And it makes the difference because otherwise there’s just this same agency across town. You get frustrated with one agency, you jump to the. Because you think they’re all the same. When you have a really clear brand and a clear personality, you’re seen as a different business than the business down the street.

And that, I think that matters. That’s one of the things is as we deal with all of these challenges that we’re going through as we deal with a recession, as we’re dealing with staffing issues, all of this as we train our. , and that’s so important is to develop your staff so they can help your clients and they can help you run your business the way you want it run and help build that reputation and that brand in your market is just so important.

George Robertson: Yeah, and I think on the staff training topic, Charlotte, that’s something that. agency owners really need to take focus and sit down and think about what are the areas that we need training on, and then what are the things that I want as an agency owner want to instill in my staff regarding the brand, and what are the things they should be saying on the phone when they’re talking to the client.

I think those are some things that. It. You need to, you really need to sit down and just take some focus and map that out. Now what we try to do, and what I try to tell agents to do is you know, take some time every week, or maybe it’s every other week, and have staff development of some type. Have it planned out, know what you’re going to do and execute that.

So everybody’s getting that staff development. It’s not just CE right. It’s know. Here’s some examples of how we answered the phone, and these are some examples of what did not go well, and here’s how we would change that to make it go better. And here’s some examples to what you did. Excellent.

These were excellent examples of how to handle this, and we just want to. Throw this out there and let people hear this, and then they get to hear how other people respond to difficult situations. And then how they cross sale and how they educate people on the market. Especially, we have a lot of calls today.

We talked about this earlier. People call in and say, wow, my insurance keeps increasing. What’s going on? , and then you have to inform them , we’ve had changes in the market. Inflation is an all time high and these are causing other impacts when people are paying out, when the carriers are paying out claims.

So you have to understand that they’ve got to get that money somewhere, so they have to increase rates to make this happen. And then you’ve got a better discussion back to the agent, goes back to the whole retention piece in keeping up with the client. A really big proponent of staff development.

Charlotte Hicks: .

Yeah. As am I, and I believe, as you mentioned, continuing education obviously with your license, that’s important and you must do that, but I think it’s really critical that you don’t consider that the only education that your staff gets. They need education on .

George Robertson: I agree. I agree with that.

so many times we only focused on, have you got your CE? Do you have your CE? You need a flood class, you need an ethics class. But we don’t talk about the day-to-day things we’re doing in the office and workflows. How do you answer the phone? What are some difficulties that you’ve had in the past month that we can talk about and how do we help you get through that?

Staff development really encompasses a lot of different areas and we need to work on that. As agency owners, we need to focus on that piece and know that it’s not just continuing education

Charlotte Hicks: for training well and staff that’s well prepared to handle whatever comes their way and they know what to do and they have certainty in their actions.

Are happier and they stay with the agency longer. If their days are stressful because they’re constantly being thrown. Things that they don’t know how to handle or haven’t been trained on, that’s what makes them want to go somewhere else, it’s so hard to get staff. and it’s even more of a challenge to get really good staff.

And then when you get someone in the agency that’s this is really a solid team player, you want to do everything you can to help develop them and help them have confidence in the position that they have, and have confidence for the next position that you’re going to promote them. .

George Robertson: Yeah. And another area I throw out there, Charlotte, is with independent agents, you’ve got so many carriers, you’ve got to know so many different websites.

Making sure the staff are trained on those different carrier websites and how to get the access to the information that they need is another area that I see in agencies that becomes a roadblock at times because they may know one or two carriers websites very well, and some of the others they don’t.

And when they get in there, they just, they can’t figure out where to go to get the information. Another area of discussion and maybe we, if we could get the carriage to all conform to one platform, that would be great. I don’t think that’ll ever happen, but it’s a dream on.

Charlotte Hicks: We’ve got some, we’ve got some answers.

We’ve got some tips for how to make 2023 a strong year for you and your agency. Tip number one is efficient operations. So that encompasses George, your specialty of technology and leveraging that, and also having good workflow systems, documented systems, intentional systems in your agency. For more on that podcast episode number seven with Joe Hagan of Freedom Through Systems is great.

But George, I’m going to let you talk a little bit on the importance of having your technology in order and your tech stack working for you and not against.

George Robertson: Oh great. Charlotte, I’ll tell you that’s a very true statement. I think some of the things we needed to do is take a look at the tech stack in the agency right out of the gate, do a tech stack assessment, and I think.

in regards to that. You may find that you signed up for some things that are redundant or some things that you’re not even using that maybe you should be using. So working through those workflows and understanding the workflows at least on an annual basis and reviewing those and understanding the tech stack can be very beneficial.

Matter of fact, we were just working with an agency recently that was working in the farm arena and they were doing a lot of things with. Paper documents and things of that nature. We were able to show them a particular vendor out there that would allow them to put the data into that vendor site. It goes into that vendor site.

They can propagate that into multiple forms, multiple other carrier forms to send out to the carriers, which reduces the time, and it gives them the ability to go back in the renewal process and see that data in the system. Whereas before their management system, the form they had, didn’t really encompass all the things they needed, but in this particular system, they could build that out.

So a great time. And we need to continue to review those things as we move forward in, in our technology stack. Look at our pipeline management tools that are in there and how we’re tracking those and how does that work with the system, with digital marketing to send out notifications to the client and notify them that we need more information or where’s the, in the process of the pipeline development piece, where are we and notify the agency.

Staff member to make sure they make a call. Maybe they forgot to make the call. They got busy with other topics of phone rang again, they forgot what that they need to call back, remind us them to do that. So those technologies that are out there today and reviewing those operational procedures, I think are crucial to helping your agency move forward as we go into 2023.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah, really look for where those fail points are. and what you can do to make sure that every interaction that your prospects and customers have with you goes smoothly. That’s just so important and your tech can really help you with that, or it can sync you . So

George Robertson: Especially in the pipeline development tools, if you don’t move the individual from one.

part of the pipeline, one stage to another. They could be getting emails that don’t pertain to where we are in that stage that could be an issue where it just, it makes the agency not look very professional, so we need to make sure that people understand. And here again, staff training,

Charlotte Hicks: which actually leads right into our second recommendation, which is having a solid marketing strategy for your agency.

and starting with the strategy, start at the top. Don’t start at the bottom. So many people say I want to talk about social media or social media strategy. Social media is not a strategy. It’s a tool Tactic. Tactics. Yes, it’s a tactic. It’s a tool. It’s it’s a media just like. Video is a media just emails are a media, just like face-to-face meetings webinars, any of this or in-person seminars.

Those are all tactics and media and tools you can use to implement your strategy. But that strategy has to start with what is your customer’s? What are the steps, as you mentioned, what are the steps they go through that lead them to want to buy from you, to be excited, to be with you, to want to buy more from you and to want to stay, and then ultimately, be an evangelist for your agency.

That is a process, and it doesn’t happen unintentionally. Your marketing strategy has to be intentional. You need that documented customer journey. You need to find out what media and tactics and tools fit in what stage of that process, and then you’ve got to measure them with your analytics. You’ve got to.

what’s working and what’s not. So you can eliminate what’s not working and double down on what does work. Otherwise you’re not going to grow profitably.

George Robertson: Love that. Love that thought.

Charlotte Hicks: So that is really big. And then the last thing that we recommend is to go deep with your customers. And we know in the insurance industry, we know that’s a relationship business.

It’s, we’ve always been good at building relationships. , but a lot of times we start spending so much time on the personal relationship. We forget that we are advisors to our customers and we need to also have that relationship with them where we’re talking to them about the problems that they’re facing, the frustrations they’re facing, because we may have a solution for.

From the insurance side, or we may even more important, we may be able to vent them from having a big problem because they hadn’t thought about the insurance implications of an initiative they’re getting ready to do. So I think it’s super important, particularly as we go into these stressful economic times where we are really seen as part of their.

Not just their friend that does insurance for them, but really part of their corporate.

George Robertson: Yeah, so true Charlotte and getting to know your customer, know the business challenges that they have and then from an insurance perspective, guiding them and giving that in that information. But also there, there may be some other connections you have in the industry where you could Funnel them over to maybe an accountant or an attorney or somebody else that they need some assistance with.

Not that you’re an expert in that area, but you can say, Hey, we do business with this particular individual. They may be able to help you, so why don’t you give them a call? And I think that’s all in here, getting to know your client and going deep with them. And then you become that trusted advisor.

And they talk to you all the time. And that’s going to help your retention rate with your.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. And obviously you’re going to focus on your best clients, on the clients that are the type that you want more of. And the more you talk to them and the more you hear what they say, those are your marketing messages for those prospects that you want, your ideal prospects are going to use that same language.

And so that’s it. It’s. From the retention side and from the account growth side, but it’s also important from the new business side. It has multiple benefits.

George Robertson: Agreed. And they’re going to go out and talk about you to other people that they know in other businesses and say, you should work with this particular insurance agent.

They’re really good. We’ve been working with them for years and they’ve really helped us out. , and that’s no better referral than that word of mouth referral to somebody else. And then they call you up and say how did you hear about us? Down the street told me they had insurance with you.

Been with you for 15, 20 years. And they say that you know what you’re doing and then that’s, you’re right in there. Then it’s a good time to sit down and talk. Potential new prospect and turn them into a client.

Charlotte Hicks: Yeah. And I want to encourage you, it doesn’t even take 15 or 20 years to develop a wow experience for a client.

You could sit down this year and bring something up or help them with something and they go, I had no idea you could help with that. And they tell their friends, it’s something that you can do immediately if you know your clients. And this is on the personal line side as well as the commercial line side.

There’s the, there a lot of things are changing in their world. And when you can help them navigate through that without making it a crisis and you can help them avoid those crisis, they’re going to let people know they’re absolutely, and as we all know, a warm referral is, you’re so much further down the line as you’ve already built that trust.

With them. Yes. Because of that referral. It’s not the only way to get business, but it sure is one of the best ways.

George Robertson: It’s one of the best ways. Yep. If not the best with that, it’s not the best. That’s correct. Yep.

Charlotte Hicks: I think that yes, we’re going to have challenges this year.

There’s a lot of interesting things still going on in the world. The geopolitical world certainly is in in tumult right now. I would say . Yes. There’s also with every challenge in. situation. There’s opportunity and I think that’s important. It’s just it’s to loop back to our, or the ai, artificial intelligence, there’s opportunities there.

You don’t want to obsess about it to and lose sight of everything else going on in your agency, but it’s Certainly good to be aware and integrate it where it makes sense.

George Robertson: I totally agree Charlotte, and we need to look for that opportunity in, in everything and just keep the focus on that as we move forward to 2023.

And I think 2023 will be a good year. It will have some very difficult challenges ahead with a potential recession, potential hard market and other things that are out there, but there’s always a way to continue on and to grow our.

Charlotte Hicks: Absolutely. And of course you need tech guidance. You talk to George, you need some marketing guidance, come talk to me and we will do what we can to help you through this as well this year.

George Robertson: Sounds good. Charlotte and Charlotte, it’s great to, to see you again here in 2023 as we kick this off and looking forward to some really great people on our podcast.

Charlotte Hicks: Absolutely. We’ve got some good things in the works and we look forward to a very interesting 2023 season on the podcast.

Thanks for joining us on the Insurance Agency Trendsetters podcast. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, please leave a review on iTunes and be sure to click subscribe so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. You can find show notes for each episode at, as well as links to contact Charlotte and George.

We’ll see you next time on the podcast.


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