The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Louisiana (IIABL) and its Mississippi sister chapter hosted the annual Young Agents conference at the IP Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi on Friday and Saturday of last week.
The low-key event, which kicked off with golf on Thursday, allowed attendees plenty of time to mingle and make new connections, while the continuing education programs offered fresh takes on tips of the trade.
Friday’s CE was presented by Paul Martin of P.Z. Martin Education Strategies Inc. Martin’s upbeat (and unconventional) style brought interest to a less-than-obvious topic in insurance education. His seminar, “What I Learned on My Summer Vacation,” focused on experiences noted during travel that can help young agents improve their customer service skills. By using examples such as the Ritz-Carlton and Disney, as well as personal anecdotes, Martin emphasized three major takeaways regarding “what the best have in common:”
- allowing the principle of the customer at center to guide employee decision making
- keeping “the vision” in front of employees
Empathy in particular was a key point as Martin’s presentation proceeded to the importance and utility of “relational intelligence” and generational sensitivity to customer service expectations.
Citing a Texas A&M study, Martin explained, “Relational intelligence is just a certain set of skills that you can develop. There’s a direct correlation between you having those skills and your customer not looking for alternatives – customer retention.”
On catering to generational differences, Martin was even more precise, running through the general characteristics of each generation and calling on young agents to focus on how they can build trust and confidence with customers by using cultural reference points such as Andy Griffith, Watergate, the early Internet, Michael Jackson, and Tommy Hilfiger.
The overarching message was simple: as independent agents in general, but young ones in particular, the future of insurance is now. While discussing the need for 24/7 service and a strong online presence for agencies in the modern age Martin reflected, “You’re young, but you should speak up if there’s something that you know your agency should be doing to relate to the customer [like a listing on the Trusted Choice website.] We can’t sit here and pretend like it’s 1999 – it ain’t.”