2020 marked a clear shift in the way insurance agencies had to service their customers.
Those who rolled with the punches and made virtual client meetings a priority are still reaping the benefits in 2022, with some agencies still opting for virtual only, because of the many benefits they've seen since starting.
Like we've said before, there's not a one-size-fits-all solution for meeting with your customers. With each agency comes its unique client base.
That said, some agents have been resisting the trend of virtual client appointments since the pandemic's beginning.
If this sounds like you, we want to share some opportunities you might miss out on by avoiding virtual meetings.
We're not necessarily trying to convince you to go the route of virtual-only, but having the option for virtual appointments can be a game changer for your agency if you let it.
Opportunities you miss out on when you avoid virtual appointments:
Meeting with Hard-to-Reach Customers
Earlier this year, we surveyed a sample of agents we work with about virtual appointments in their agencies.
78.13% of them listed "meeting with customers we don't usually meet with" as an advantage of holding virtual client meetings.
Insurance agent Kwame Tyler shared the same sentiment in an interview with me.
He said that, mainly because the location of his agency is hard to get to, virtual meetings are much more effective when needing to meet with those who would otherwise slip through the cracks.
He mentioned that many of the customers who agree to a virtual meeting are those he hasn't met yet.
Your customers must know, at the very least, who you are as their agent if they're going to continue trusting you with their coverage.
Many customers who decline your invitation to the office to review their policies will be more likely to accept the invitation for a virtual meeting.
Meeting with Decision-Makers
Agent Pat Dickey swears by virtual appointments, not only because he's able to meet with hard-to-reach customers but also because he has been able to get both partners involved(where applicable).
In contrast, before embracing virtual appointments, he met many clients who weren't comfortable making decisions without their partners' input.
The meetings can be much more effective when both partners are present, even if one is listening in on the call from the kitchen while making dinner.
Both agents, Kwame Tyler and Pat Dickey, spoke with me separately and mentioned that their no-show rates for virtual appointments were much lower than in-person appointments.
Kwame pointed out that even when a no-show does happen, it's not a big deal because he can conduct these appointments from home.
With in-person meetings (especially on the weekends), he would spend time going to the office, only for the client not to show.
He doesn't have to worry about that with a virtual no-show.
Pat attributes the lower no-show rate to the appointments being virtual, along with sending a text the day before or morning of the appointment as a reminder.
At Engagex, we make reminder calls the day before, but adding a text message into the mix helps his no-show rates drop drastically.
Screen Sharing Capabilities for Educating Your Customers
Depending on your video call platform, you can share your screen and even documents with your clients during the meeting.
Rather than just telling them about their coverage options, you can teach them with simple, engaging graphics or slides.
Easier to Schedule Appointments
I'll admit - In March of 2020, when the pandemic hit, I became very uneasy and unsure about what this meant for Engagex as an appointment setting company.
Will we even have a job to do if agents can't meet with their customers?
Very quickly, though, we realized how much easier it was to schedule phone and virtual appointments!
Our conversion rate of setting appointments sky-rocketed and has stayed pretty consistent since then.
It's almost always more convenient for your customers to have a virtual appointment than to travel to your office for an in-person discussion. They can even do the meeting on their lunch break at work!
More client appointments (when done well) increases your retention!
More Meetings & Higher Efficiency
Virtual appointments are unique because you can still have a face-to-face connection while providing an environment that promotes efficiency.
Both agents, Roger O'Connell and Nick Mortallaro, spoke with me on separate occasions and indicated that there's less small talk (but still a good amount) and that it's easier to get straight to the point of the meetings.
In getting straight to the point, the meetings are also shorter than if the client is in your office.
Virtual appointments are also typically easier to conduct than phone appointments because you can read non-verbal queues.
Almost half of the agents we surveyed said they could have more client meetings because the virtual ones were shorter and more efficient.
Not only are virtual meetings more efficient for your agency, but they're also more convenient and time-efficient for your customers! The less time you take of theirs while still adding value, the better.
When I asked agents what advice they have for those who haven't embraced virtual appointments, they all had similar answers.
The main advice?
Practice, but start today.
Don't wait any longer, don't put it off.
Do some practice rounds to figure out the technology if you need to, and then jump right in.
It might feel a little rocky at first, but you'll soon find your rhythm, and you'll be able to reap the benefits of deeper relationships and increased retention.