TEXT VIOLETA MATEO| IMAGES MAPFRE, ISTOCK
“With our clients, we replaced handshakes with meaningful eye contact through the screen”
We were not prepared for the COVID-19 crisis; nevertheless, it offered us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to rethink things and modify concepts, truly breaking paradigms. It made us reflect on what really matters, value our time and protect those we love. Always putting the customer first, relying on empathy to understand and meet their expectations.
It’s important to highlight the relationship building ongoing throughout the day. At the start of the pandemic, we had to modify our tools and the ways we offer our product.
In the absence of physical contact, video conferencing became our way of reaching out to our customers, despite being forcibly separated. We replaced handshakes with meaningful eye contact through the screen, fostering confidence and credibility.
Bearing in mind the adversities we’ve had to face, the market is showing considerable growth. Insurance is present in several sectors, mainly helping people tackle adverse situations such as the pandemic.
SALES SPECIALIST AT CANAIS
“Our digital marketing capabilities are improving at a frenetic pace and we’ve created additional tools to help our agents grow”
The pandemic is a terrible human tragedy with over 400,000 deaths in the United States, and more than two million worldwide. From a business standpoint, we are among the lucky ones who, to a large extent, can work remotely and continue providing essential services that help people get on with their lives. We’re all looking forward to returning to normal life, although I hope this “normalcy” includes achieving a greater balance between working remotely and in person.
In Massachusetts, our business development team swiftly adapted to working in a virtual environment. Face-to-face meetings were not completely suppressed, but they had to comply with the pertinent social distancing guidelines. But what is more significant, we’ve also started affording greater importance to our digital channel, given that COVID-19 has accelerated consumer trends toward online purchases.
Finally, leveraging our digital marketing capabilities, which are improving at a frenetic pace, we’ve created additional tools to help our agents grow and enhance their contents and reach on social media; and, shortly, also in order to facilitate the purchase of home, automobile and business insurance products efficiently online.
Development director at MAPFRE INSURANCE (United States)
“2020 is the year I really grew and became stronger, as I managed to push beyond my limits”
In the midst of a crisis, opportunities arise to do business in a different way, to think about new relationship models and different ways of tackling the challenges that arise in a crisis that is not just health-related, but is also economic and social.
As regards collaboration, we’re starting to experience the ‘globalization of work’, as it’s not just about working in the home office, but rather the office everywhere: in a different country, in another city, in another home miles away; we are already in the era of the globalized workplace.
One of the most significant changes was that the customer relationship model works on digital platforms: Teams, SharePoint, WhatsApp, cell phone…
The market is moving forward and, in MAPFRE, we’ve never stopped innovating. There exists a clear trend toward automating everything, with mobile commerce taking place over social media.
2020 is a year I’ll never forget. It will go down in history as a year of many changes with a steep learning curve, when I grew as a person and became stronger, managing to push beyond my limits.
Alicia Lizeth Naranjo González
Metropolitan Branch director at MAPFRE MEXICO
“We can no longer talk about traditional channels unrelated to any kind of digital customer support”
Crises are generally also accompanied by many positive aspects and new opportunities. It has made us ‘keep our feet firmly on the ground’ and value many things we previously took for granted. What we’ve been through has taught us that we must work on adapting to change and constantly seek solutions, putting our customers at the center of everything and thinking like them, about what they need.
Technology and flexibility have been our best allies. We’ve also had to learn more about developing our digital business, promoting products through social media, all the way from capturing leads right through to closing sales.
With the traditional channels we’ve often faced resistance to change – due to people either set in their ways or lacking knowledge – and so we had to train our agents how to use the technological communication tools and accompany customers virtually, and support them with the development of sales strategies. We can no longer talk about traditional channels unrelated to any kind of digital customer support.
We’re seeing a market that increasingly comprehends the need to acquire insurance, especially in regions such as Guatemala where there is very little insurance protection culture.
Luis Pedro Chavarría
Sales director at MAPFRE GUATEMALA
“I see a MAPFRE distinct from all the other companies. Modern, innovative, constantly adapting itself and always close to its customers”
“Now more than ever we should remember that, when customers come to MAPFRE, they’re seeking the factors that set us apart – they’re looking for excellence and, for that reason, we need to adapt swiftly.
We must boost the importance of our telephone advisers, prepare ourselves and master this sales tool. We’ve also closed sales by means of video calls via WhatsApp, Zoom, Teams and, of course, smartphone. I’ve seen our network of delegates stronger and more self-assured than ever. I’m really proud of my team.
We must tell our customers that, when they choose MAPFRE, they’re contributing to wonderful projects designed to achieve a fairer society. Every year our Foundation helps many families, something all of us must shout to the four winds; this is very present when it comes to my sales efforts and attracting talent to the team. I believe this is clearly a differentiating factor compared to other companies.
I have particularly fond memories of three moments last year: when we offered the CEO of a major food group the health services of Savia, he told me… ‘Thanks so much, we need it.’ Then there was a really elderly policyholder who was thrilled to learn that MAPFRE was bringing him his medication.
And when we asked a leading fruit distributor for a special price to send fruit to a soup kitchen, he didn’t even want to charge us and he’s still delivering fruit every week.”
Gloria Santos Luis
Manager of the Galicia South Regional Management office at MAPFRE IBERIA
“Our customer experience has been limited to the digital channels, but we’ve managed to enhance it with the personal touch of our sales personnel”
“Hybrid work models – mixing office work with teleworking – are proving highly effective in Verti, as they facilitate a healthy work-life balance and closer, more personal communication. It’s also most important to be as flexible as possible with schedules and, more than ever, value highly the achievement of objectives.
This crisis has accelerated customer interaction over the digital channels, but this has often not been due to obligation, but rather conviction. We need to see how these customers behave in the future, as customers will only want to repeat the digital channel experience if it was truly great. This has indeed given a competitive edge to those who were already prepared, like Verti.
But we have also had to adapt. The first thing we did was listen to our customers’ needs and we then adapted our entire value proposition to what we learned.
Finally, we made our telephone channel available to all those customers who, in this context, needed ‘human warmth’ to choose their insurance product.”
Juan Pablo Galán de la Fuente
Technical and Business Director at VERTI Spain
“Being digital and having innovation in our DNA has enabled us to drive our business even closer to our customers and continue taking care of them”
“Like all crises, this one has brought tremendous opportunities. Digital business has turned out to be one of the best investments for companies and MAPFRE Mexico was no exception. Being digital and having innovation in our DNA has enabled us to drive our business even closer to our customers and continue taking care of them, no matter how tough the difficulties of the context we find ourselves in.
A major decision during the pandemic was to keep investing in digital marketing, while other competitors were withdrawing or reducing their presence.
Teleworking managed to bring us closer to our end customers and intermediaries, with frequent video conferences throughout the crisis, and that is how we will maintain this close relationship over the coming years.
We’re going through one of the most difficult moments in our lives and I’m deeply grateful to be going through it with MAPFRE. We will get through this and be able to take care of our customers with the same confidence as we do today.”
María del Pilar García Colina
Price Comparison Sites Digital Business at MAPFRE Mexico
“Giving our customers the confidence and security they needed at that moment was a large part of the success of our new sales model”
“It’s clear that this pandemic has confronted us all with an exceptional, global, historic situation and it will mark ‘a turning point’ in our future as individuals, a society, and traditional established models.
As regards the traditional channel work model, we suffered significantly at the sales level during the lockdown period. We are a network oriented toward direct contact, dealing face to face with our customers and, unfortunately, this situation caught us initially on the back foot.
It was precisely at that moment that we were forced to reinvent ourselves. To do this, we not only saw the need to access our customers via other not-so-traditional ways (Skype, Teams…) or else go back to telephone sales, but we also had to train and equip our entire organization with all the means required in record time.
Here, as is only to be expected, MAPFRE provided a swift response to all our needs.
Being close to our customers, listening to them, giving them peace of mind, offering them our high-value services and, above all, the confidence and security they needed at that moment in time was a large part of the success of our new sales model. All this and incorporating digitization made us more efficient.”
Antonio Cuadrado Velasco
East Territorial Director, Specific Network at MAPFRE VIDA
“We need to analyze, implement and test the new ways customers are consuming in this new world (the new normal)”
“With the shift to home offices, we were forced to implement and try out new sales models, using more digital tools, such as online video calls with both customers and internally with colleagues. We learned what was to come in the next five years in just one. We listened more. We were physically separated, but always mindful of the needs of our distributors, generating appropriate, cost-effective solutions. The pandemic brought with it an increase in demand for life insurance and pensions, given the greater need for clients to save and invest their money, thinking about their loved ones, so as to keep them safe and secure their future.
I believe in growth, mainly with the entry of customers who will be demanding customized products and services, i.e. pay-per-use contracts.
For the survival of businesses, including the insurance market, which has a great opportunity for expanding in Brazil, we need to analyze, implement and test, with periodic reviews, the new ways individuals and companies are consuming. We learned to appreciate more our freedom to come and go as we please, our home, our family and, especially, our jobs, which we retain thanks to MAPFRE. We are very well looked after by this company, which is fundamentally concerned with people, its employees and collaborators.”
Patricia Fischer Bringhenti-Asses
SALES REPRESENTATIVE MAPFRE BRAZIL
“In times of crisis, while some cry, others sell tissues”
I read the saying these days that goes, ‘in times of crisis, while some cry, others sell tissues’, i.e. in difficult times we must seize opportunities.
With this reflection in mind, we focused on detecting opportunities in this crisis and developed skills we had never used before, especially those related to technology. Previously, we paid physical visits to insurance brokers (2-4 each day); we can now arrange more virtual visits (5-6 each day) and we are more efficient, achieving the same results as when we made physical visits. Several of these virtual visits included breakfasts or lunches that we sent to their homes and/or offices. Through Fundación MAPFRE, we’ve supported several institutions and this has not gone unnoticed by our partners/producers and customers.
Among the expressions of affection and gratitude for MAPFRE we received, I’d like to highlight this one: ‘You’ve saved families.’ This was in reference to the special discounts MAPFRE offered in the most critical months of the pandemic, thanks to which several customers were able to survive.”
Juan Carlos Rivadeneira
TERRITORIAL OFFICES ASSISTANT DIRECTOR at MAPFRE PANAMA
“Good process management is what basically makes the difference in sales.
We must remain flexible and have the capacity to adapt!”
As a direct insurer, in times of pandemic we really have the edge over traditional insurers. As a team, we’ve worked really well at a distance and will continue to do so. However, our sales to companies in Germany mainly target traditional distribution channels and, as a result, personal contact with our collaborators is essential. Fortunately, for cost and efficiency reasons, nothing to do with the pandemic, we had already developed and installed a system for offering webinars, online conferences and online training.
Thanks to this, we were able to swiftly adapt to lockdown restrictions and keep in touch with our collaborators. Despite such difficult circumstances, we have proved capable of attracting new collaborators and increasing the number of new contracts with brokers by about 50 percent. There are just under 100 insurance companies in Germany. We were one of just five companies that managed to increase their turnover last year. Overall, our annual results were good.
Head of Partnership Business (Brokers and Financial Entities)
‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’ Good process management is what basically makes the difference in sales.