This article is from the UK Magazine Insurance Age, some good commentary on the industry and digital engagement and just as relevant to the Australian market.

Do brokers need to have a digital presence to succeed?

No-one can deny that digital plays a vital role in our lives, both personal and at work. Having a digital presence can assist across all areas of business whether that is to help find, retain or provide a service to customers or even take care of back office administration.

Given the thirst for innovation and technological advancement, the broker that uses digital capabilities to deliver a faster, more personalised customer experience at a competitive rate is far more likely to succeed than one that chooses not to make that sort of investment.

What digital channels should brokers be on and why?

It is all about understanding who the customer is and what they want. When promoting their services brokers should be using the channels that their customers and potential customers use.

The first consideration should be the broker’s own website. This is essentially the shop window for the broker to make that initial engagement with the customer, and those without an online presence or ones that offer a poor online experience will inevitably lose out.

Is there a place for social media in the broker market?

There absolutely is a place for social media in the broker market but only where it supports customer demand. If the brokers’ customers are active in social media then so should the broker be.

With four out of five UK professionals now on Linked In and 21,000 members with ‘insurance’ in their job title the potential online audience is ever growing. And don’t forget that the likes of Facebook and Twitter, as well as Google+, Pinterest and all the rest, also have their place, again depending on a broker’s target audience.

Social media can support many areas from brand awareness, lead generation and thought leadership, to acquiring supporters and advocates, as an outbound marketing channel and in customer retention.

What are insurers doing to work more digitally with brokers?

Insurers need to understand brokers’ needs, what keeps them up at night and how they can best work together to meet the needs of the customer. Research and a robust system of two-way feedback are paramount to greater understanding.

At Aviva we strive for continuous improvement in our digital capabilities. For example, this summer, based on broker feedback, we launched a prospecting and cross sell tool on our online trading platform, Fast Trade.

Earlier in the year we launched our Linked In and Twitter accounts dedicated to the broker audiences to share news and updates that are important to them. We use this route alongside our existing methods of communication giving brokers a choice of how they wish to receive Aviva news.

Brokers have told us that they actively use social media but that their biggest concern is having the time and resource to generate content. What brokers may not appreciate is that they don’t have to create all of their material from scratch.

Insurers already have a wealth of information which is ready-made for brokers to share with their customers via their own social media accounts.

For example, Aviva’s Marketing Mentor online resource not only gives brokers free marketing advice but also includes guides on the use of social media, as well as providing reusable content.

How important is it for brokers and insurers to trade digitally together?

Digital has an important part to play across all touch points, including claims, collections and underwriting. Whether it’s using analytics and third-party data to reduce question sets or providing quicker access to e-documents the focus for both the broker and insurer should always be on delivering improvements that benefit the customer.

Rather than a replacement to personal contact I think digital should be viewed as an enabler to greater customer service, whether that is through the interactive FAQ’s on an insurer’s website or gaining instant access to underwriters online through live chat facilities.

A link to the original article here