August 2, 2020
The Power of Lending a Hand
by Michael Shaw
In these crazy times, a tweet does not count; a text does not matter; an email does not help, if the message is generic and the spirit absent.
During the worst pandemic in a century, amid the most upheaval in a half-century, the insurance industry faces challenges larger than dollars and cents. Larger still is the need for insurers to have the common sense to communicate with the public, to communicate a plan of action and act with compassion. A tweet, therefore, does not count; a text does not matter; an email does not help. Not if the message is generic, the tone neutral, the spirit absent.
Insurers need to say more than the obligatory, if they even say that, because the best insurance policy for an industry—the best way to ensure the success of so many brands within a single industry—is to exceed people’s expectations. In other words, give people gifts they will cherish.
According to Benjamin Van Damme, founder of A Pearl of My Heart, gifts should be creative. The gifts that corporations give, including the gifts that insurers award workers and clients, should be personal, memorable and expressive. He says:
“Sustaining a sense of connection is essential in this time of uncertainty. A distinctive hand casting commemorates the bond between friends and family, reminding people they are not alone. We hope to strengthen the spirit of togetherness, so we may be stronger and more compassionate.”
I agree with Van Damme’s point about connection, because too many “gifts” are nothing of the sort. Too many corporate gifts in general, be they plaques or gold (plated) pens, look like what they are: soulless—and disposable—objects, which elicit little appreciation and no affection from recipients.
For insurers to weather the challenges of the present requires, well, presents; and presence. Insurers need to be attentive to what consumers want. Insurers need to be present, listening to what consumers say. Insurers need to have the presence of mind to address what consumers hope to receive.
What should be the principal concern of the insurance industry is consumer loyalty. Strengthening the loyalty that consumers have, or creating it where it does not exist, is an investment of time and effort. Through deeds of gratitude come words of praise, where insurers do good works and earn the respect of the public.
Now is the time for insurers to lead with enthusiasm for the future. Now is the time for insurers to embrace originality, proving they have the will to succeed and the decency to lend a helping hand. Whether the hand is financial or in the form of a hand casting, or both, is critical to the reputation of the insurance industry.
As someone with more than his share of desk calendars and complimentary but worthless gifts from all manner of industries, I encourage insurers to choose creativity over the blatantly corporate. I encourage insurers to distinguish themselves from all other industries.
In creativity lies the gift of gifts: loyalty. In promoting loyalty, insurers will find consumers of great passion and influence. In rewarding consumers for their loyalty, insurers will find the power to influence the world for the betterment of all peoples.