By Webb Milward, SVP, Sales & Business Development July 10, 2017

Being responsive to your clients is nothing new. Just count the number of cell phones on the table at your next team lunch. You’ve all stepped out of meetings or outside birthday parties to answer a client’s call. You welcome the interaction and opportunity to prove (and solidify) your value. And it’s not always to put out a fire (literally or figuratively) but sometimes just to answer a question and provide direction. Council members are confident that when that call comes in they are armed and ready to serve.

Clients see you as reliable. They trust you. They count on you. No one disputes that. But being reliable and responsive today means being exceptionally proactive. Constantly anticipating needs, responding before the “fire” ever occurs. It seems the sweet spot is figuring out how to best leverage technology in both retention and new business efforts. Combined with the reservoir of trust that exists, how will technology make brokers even better (and faster) at delivering on the core mission of serving the client?

Think about your own evolution in this business. Dictating a letter to a client (I’m still bummed I missed out on that era) was replaced by group text. Email took a long time to evolve in our industry, but now policies are sent via PDF. So what’s next?

The “democratization of information” is not a new concept, but it resurfaced for me recently at The Council’s Midyear Board Meeting. In its simplest form, this democratization is making more information more accessible to more people. Whether you believe in that theory or not from a business standpoint, there are clear examples of it all around us.

During the meeting, discussion honed in on the importance of ease of access to information. The particular focus was on the ability to push more decision-making tools into the field for use in real time with clients. The consensus was, in an industry where technical knowledge is critical, having the data available to be part of a real-time, dynamic discussion around risk mitigation and coverage will be increasingly meaningful and, quite frankly, expected.

This idea has been echoed by many in our industry over the past few months. One recent example is Marsh President John Doyle who said, “The winners will be client advisors with data and insights to deliver solutions to clients…They will be distributors that offer a compelling client experience.”

How do we make more room for this flow of information? What will it take to make it happen? The regulatory environment, inflexible systems and the continuing need for an evolving skill set remain a few of our barriers to entry. At its core, however, this evolution sets up perfectly for brokers (and underscores the kind of talent you should be looking to hire). Brokers are programmed to behave in this way—to quickly respond, engage in habitual follow up and be relied upon for both solid numbers and sage advice.

You can rely on yourself, and you can rely on your data, but putting it all together and in the clients’ hands is the next step. Game on!

(If you missed a call or text from a client while reading this, my sincere apologies. Now get on it!)

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