Harnessing the power of digital for a ‘futuready’ agency

This month, Prudential begins celebrating 175 years of operation. From its humble beginnings in London in 1848, by the turn of the 20th Century it had more than 10,000 “Men from the Pru” – agents serving customers door to door – and one in three British households held a Prudential life insurance policy. 

Agents became effective ambassadors for the company through developing and nurturing personal relationships, often over generations. 

Today, Prudential is proud to have a leading agency force across Asia and Africa, with half a million ‘bionic men and women’ who harness the power of digital to serve 10 million customers.

For today’s digital savvy customers that move effortlessly between multiple digital and in-person channels, these ambassadors combine our values of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness across multiple channels to interact with customers where and when they demand.

“I think the overriding quality that makes a good agent is that they care about the role insurance plays in society, as a contribution to financial sustainability,” said Lilian Ng, Strategic Business Group Managing Director.

“The agent wants to do the right thing for their customers so that they can have better financial futures.

“The role of the agent has pivoted from financial adviser to financial influencer, and we must support them on that journey. We are now pivoting our agents as financial influencers, and that includes sharpening their social media and content creation skills as a priority,” Lilian adds.

Prudential’s ‘futuready’ agents now engage creative thinking and strategy into their sales techniques to convert social media connections into rewarding business relationships. 

Empowering agents with the power of digital

Prudential’s tagline ‘Always Listening, Always Understanding,’ was created in 1995 as part of its expansion in Asia with the brand campaign that focused on its “agents that understand and care about the customers”. It also acted as a guide for the agency force on how to conduct business, stressing the reliability of the company, its financial strengths, and caring approach towards customers. 

Since then, the market and customers’ expectations have moved exponentially with the digital explosion. By the end of 2020,1.6 billion people in the Asia Pacific region subscribed to mobile services, representing nearly 60 per cent of the population*. Mobile banking and financial services via apps and social media sites are now mainstream. 

Enter the ‘bionic’ agents, who must meet the customer where they are.

“Our bionic men and women must be digitally savvy influencers who engage with today’s customers via various social media and instant messaging platforms,” explains Lilian.

And the Covid-19 pandemic added another shift in relying on virtual means to maintain face-to-face contact with customers. 

“Many of our agents had to shift to Zoom or Team meetings to engage with customers and conduct business. They have reported how being able to have an online meeting with a formal presentation has enabled open discussions with customers,” says Lilian.

With the agency force being digital citizens, the agents demand a seamless platform to acquire, onboard and service customers with engagement, lead generation and outreach; while agency leaders demand a recruitment and performance management platform to build teams.

PruForce is the e-briefcase for agents and leaders, a super app for the ‘futuready’ agency.  The digital platform empowers the agency with AI-powered recruitment, cultivating talent through learning and development at scale, streamlining workflow, and with intelligent lead generation and nurturing to convert leads to customers. 

Social success: Case study

Prudential agents Dan Darby and Peiyi Tang started using social media as a tool to engage with customers during the pandemic. By posting about their personal lives, they can have informal interactions with clients, maintaining or building potential relationships.

“I use Instagram mainly to keep in touch with my existing clients – commenting on their stories and knowing their recent happenings so that we can maintain a relationship outside of business,” Peiyi says.

Despite the pandemic and general market slowdown in sales, in Singapore Peiyi managed to clock in 627 cases in 2020. With 920 cases in 2021, she holds the record for the highest number of cases issued in a year within the Group. 

“My clients are mostly relatively young, in their 30s, and most of them are on social media, so I felt that if I’m not appearing on social media, I will be ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” she explains.

PRUVenture Manager Dan Darby’s social media strategy also saw him quickly recognised as one of the world’s top producing agents, with him qualifying for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) two years in a row. 

From Kuala Lumpur, Dan initially started producing TikTok videos to build his personal brand, and now reaches a wider demographic of prospective customers via Instagram and Facebook. 

“Social media is one of my main tools. It makes the world bigger – I can now cover the whole of Malaysia. Through social, you get to see so many people, and a lot of people share their life moments such as getting married or having a baby.

“I produce content that’s funny and based around what I like to do or eat for example. I don’t talk about insurance. At the end of the day, people want to see someone who’s very approachable and friendly. 

“If people are approachable on social media, it’s like asking a friend for help. It’s a very natural way to start conversations. Whoever comments on my stories, they’re my prospects for me to approach.” 

Bionically brilliant

As Prudential moves into its 175th year and enters the next normal, it is continuously evolving and adding more digital capabilities to support agents in their conversation with customers.  

The Bionic Agent harness data intelligently to better understand customer behaviour to provide them with relevant advice and information and be more effective in closing sales.

Combine this with the inherent values of loyalty, familial values, discretion, and financial integrity, and the “Bionic Man and Woman from the Pru” are a supercharged force in a competitive fast-moving marketplace to deliver customer success. 

* Source: The Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2021 Report - GSMA

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