Trust your cat, trust your advisor

17 September 2020 Travys Wilkins, CEO at CompareGuru Financial Services

Just over a decade ago, New York Times writer and four-time Emmy Award winner, David Pogue, crowdsourced an entire book. Every night for 100 nights, he tweeted a provocative question and then compiled the best responses into a book titled: The World According to Twitter.

Over the course of the 100 days, he quickly came to realise that there were a lot of people out there who had great advice about everything from life and parenting to work and relationships.

Scrolling through some of the advice Pogue had been given, I started thinking about what leads us to ask some people for advice and not others? And also, what is it that makes us take certain recommendations to heart?

For me, it comes down to two things – trust and experience.

“You’ve never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, have you?”

One of Pogue’s respondents, Alexandra Aulisi, mentioned her grandmother’s wise reassurance when her cat was stuck in a tree. “You’ve never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, have you?” her grandmother said. And because her experience demonstrated that she had, in fact, never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, she trusted that her grandmother’s advice was accurate and that the cat would eventually come down on his own. It did.

For me, this story illustrates why our willingness to trust advice has a lot to do with our experiences. If someone you consider to be a successful businessperson offers you advice about running your business, chances are you’re going to listen to them because your experience tells you that they know a thing or two about business.

Why am I talking so much about all this?

Well, because CompareGuru is in the business of giving advice. Customers tell us about their needs, goals, expectations and financial constraints and then we source the most appropriate products to suit their requirements. If a customer were to do such a comprehensive search on their own, chances are that the process would have been a lot like Pogue’s – taking place over weeks, with information sourced from a large group of people, requiring a fair amount of time-consuming analysis.

This is where we’ve been able to embrace technology to revolutionise the process. Preparing a recommendation for a customer used to be a fairly lengthy, paper-based, manual exercise. Today, tech-powered guidance tools allow our gurus to get to a solution in fewer steps by using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate certain aspects of the information gathering and needs analysis process. This, in turn, makes it faster and simpler for the customer and more efficient for us.

Whilst technology is integral to our customer experience, I am confident it cannot replace the human element entirely; especially when it comes to slightly more complex solutions. Empathy, for example, is something that no AI solution can replicate. This can be problematic because human emotion is a key component of relationship building in our industry.

What all of this does mean is that technology will handle the grunt work, freeing up our time to focus on relationships. When complex analysis is taken care of, people can spend time offering support and making sure that customers feel comfortable with the decisions they’re making. This human connection also means that they are more likely to trust the advice they’re being given.
More and more, we are seeing insurers embracing digital integration and digital capability, which gives their advisors the freedom to focus on big-picture thinking. Ultimately, the industry needs to embrace technology but we can’t forget the power of human connection. In the same way that you wouldn’t ask someone you don’t trust for advice, you probably wouldn’t allow someone you don’t trust to look after your insurance portfolio.

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