“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.
These words by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr have always resonated with me. And as someone who has been in the business insurance industry for over 30 years, I see the sentiment reflected in my work every day.
Throughout my professional journey, I have witnessed myriad changes. Yet despite these changes and transformations, I’ve noticed that one thing has remained constant: Customers still want choice, simplicity, and value from their business insurance provider.
My career began at a cherry wood desk, surrounded by files and office supplies. I was fresh out of college, struggling to find a job in my field of study. So I took a position as a customer service representative at an independent insurance agency.
In those days, the insurance industry looked very different. Before computers, there were filing cabinets, carbon paper, and typewriters. The office shelves were lined with thick company binders containing underwriting information, guidelines, and insurance rates.
In those early days of my career, I would quote a new customer by writing their risk details by hand with pen and paper. After referring to the underwriting guidelines, I would share various quotes and coverage options with the customer. When the customer decided to secure coverage, I’d fill out an ACORD application with carbon paper, using my typewriter; the original went to the carrier and subsequent copies to the insured and agency file. There were no computers!
Everything — from endorsements to reinstatements — was typed, mailed, and filed.
Much has changed about how we interact and deliver customer service in the years since. Many in-person customer experiences have been swapped for digital communication. Premiums aren’t calculated by hand anymore, nor are quotes drawn up on paper. That means the process of writing an insurance policy feels less tangible.
As the Head of Business Development at Simply Business, my team works with insurance carriers to distribute products that meet customer demand. Small business owners enter basic information online, and within minutes they can receive various quote options.
Today, by integrating platforms such as agency management systems, carrier portals, and third-party vendors, we can transmit information in real time. Such innovations have helped improve accuracy and increased efficiency, allowing the customer to get what they’ve requested faster. For a small business owner, ease and simplicity matter.
Although this more streamlined customer experience may seem like a drastic change, some basic truths remain. Today, a customer requesting a quote expects the same three priorities to be met as customers did 30 years ago: choice, simplicity, and value.
Choice is a cornerstone of the insurance industry. As a customer, having only one or two options can be a major limitation. When we offer a variety of quotes to our customers, they trust we have researched options and allow them to choose what works best for their business. And, in turn, the customer values the consultation and expertise of the agent.
Offering quotes from a variety of carriers is the same now as it was at the start of my career. It helps to put the power in the hands of every small business owner who works with us.
Simplicity can make or break a customer’s experience. Understanding insurance takes research and a certain degree of expertise that those who don’t work in the industry may not likely have. That’s why we’re here. We decode the jargon, help walk the customer through typical coverage requirements, and uncomplicate the process.
At one point, “simplicity” looked like making a call or having a walk-in appointment with an agent. Today, it looks like shopping online and being connected with a licensed agent who can help if and when they are needed.
Finally — and perhaps most importantly — customers want value. When looking to protect their small business, around 75% of customers typically choose independent insurance agents*. This is because they value the personal touches and specialized advice these agents offer. The customer can trust that their agent has their best interest at heart and is doing all they can to provide the best bang for their buck.
For small business owners, work isn’t just work. It’s their livelihood. Every penny saved counts. An agent can provide that personalized service, offering information about coverage options for the best possible price.
If you work with insurance customers, these should be your priorities as well. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to build trust and provide those core values. You don’t just service policies — you may help guide customers through some of their small businesses’ most difficult moments.
Here at Simply Business, my team onboards new insurance companies who have the best products to fit small business needs. With more choices, we can provide greater value and simplify the insurance process.
Through all those changes business owners may face, Simply Business’s commitment to impeccable service remains the same.
* “Facts + Statistics: Distribution Channels,” Insurance Information Institute, last modified 2022, https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-distribution-channels.
For more than 30 years, (yikes) I have fine-tuned my service and sales, customer relations, and team-building skills in the insurance industry, levelling up every position and demonstrating a history of profitable growth on the agency and carrier side. My passion for helping others, customers and agents, means I get to use creativity, innovation, and my boundless energy to get things done!
Stephanie writes on topics such as small business insurance, customer relations, and leadership.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.