Why financial services branches put customer requirements top of the agenda

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Why financial services branches put customer requirements top of the agenda


This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.

Amidst the challenges posed by rising energy costs and the surge in e-commerce during and after the pandemic, the UK high street has forged its own unique path. Many businesses, both large and small, have navigated closures or transitioned into the online realm.

However, for significant purchases such as insurance, the importance of face-to-face interactions cannot be forgotten. This article will highlight compelling insights into why the reintroduction of physical insurance shops is a pivotal decision.

In recent years where online shopping has become the norm, the decline of physical retail might seem inevitable. Yet, the reality our customers reveal challenges these assumptions. Consumer preferences shift with changing market conditions, varying not only by generation but also by geographic location.

Communication for all generations

One thing remains the same, consumers need insurance for both personal and commercial reasons – whether it’s motor, home, business or even taxi insurance. Some are a legal requirement, and it’s time insurers unpacked the different ways of helping consumers across all generations and localities on their journey to understanding and buying their policies.

A full-service offering helps customers understand their insurance needs, first time round!

Buying insurance or making a claim is not a box-ticking process. As an increasing number of businesses still look to e-commerce and online service offerings, it has uncovered a gap in the market for an in-person purchasing experience for insurance. Some people no longer want to sit on the phone waiting to speak to someone or communicate with a chatbot that is perhaps unable to sort the issue. In fact, over 50% of consumers claim that they would only be willing to talk to a chatbot initially, so long as they were transferred to an agent afterwards.

Now, insurance brokers are looking to provide a full in-store service experience – from new business and personal insurance, to renewals, claims and more.

Two-fold approach brings life back into bricks and mortar

The move back to physical stores is no light decision, but the move has been driven by two major factors:

1. Talent spotting

Firstly, it’s an opportunity to fill vacancies regionally; supporting the local community by offering local job opportunities.

2. Location, location, location

Secondly - and this is built on having the right people to deliver the values of the brand - they’re focused on providing a personalised experience to customers. With local and regional expertise within each branch, advice can be given based on the area, streets, neighbourhood and more.

This knowledge means customers receive a tailored experience which ultimately helps to build trust. It’s no secret that there is great value in this, with Mckinsey research highlighting that 71% of consumers expect a personalised experience, with another 76% revealing they become frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

Cross-channel approach used correctly means customer experience levels are high

Consumer preferences are now more varied than ever. In recent years, customer experience has been pushed towards chatbots which has left some people questioning how seriously their policy purchase, query, renewal, or even claim is being taken? While chatbots provide instant responses, are convenient for directing the consumer to the right person and resolving straightforward issues, they are not able to solve more complex concerns which need a human touch.

But people differ

When it comes to communication, opinions among generations fluctuate enormously – for example, the youngest ‘covid generation’ now want to speak to a person, but in contrast, consumers between 24-30 want to use online services. For those over 30, the desire to still communicate with a person is huge. A recent survey unveiled that 80% of millennials want to speak to an insurance agent in order to understand their policy.

Blending traditional with new media and keeping it local

The traditional insurance envelope can be pushed in other ways. By taking to social media, including TikTok, to engage with the general public on a local level, social media can be far more targeted to particular areas and interest groups.

Taking Clegg Gifford as an example, all branches have a cutting-edge look and feel, each embodying the local culture to where it serves – Sheffield has oversized cutlery as a nod to the steel industry, Harrogate features The White Rose of York and Hull includes a copy of one of the area’s cream-coloured telephone boxes.

Word of mouth has a role to play

From a customer perspective, the launch of high street shops has been well-received. Clegg Gifford is now on track to have opened 19 physical stores by the end of 2023, with plans to expand further in the upcoming years.

Online reviews will only get you so far with local communities where word of mouth still carries a lot of sway. Research shows that people are 90% believe brand recommendations from a friend rather than advertising, and another 75% claim they don’t accept advertisements as truth.

As an example, Clegg Gifford branches located near taxi ranks, see much more private hire insurance business spurred from taxi drivers speaking to each other and spreading the word based on their experience.

Blending physical and digital to every business on the high street

After a major decline in physical stores in recent years, it’s clear there is still a strong appetite for in-person insurance shops. As more businesses take operations online, it’s paved the way for a forward-thinking company to make its high-street comeback.

Of course, the answer isn’t to just go completely physical – it’s about listening to your customers and prioritising their preferences and requirements to provide a smooth blend of physical and digital.


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This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.