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Managing High-Touch B2B Client Experiences Virtually

As industry experts, we are placing a heavy focus on helping our clients navigate during uncertain times. 

Navigating client interactions during a not-so-subtle shift in event culture

The exhibition halls of conferences echo cheery exchanges:


“How are you?”

“It’s so good to see you again!”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you — so-and-so has told me so much about you!”

In the evening, venues around the convention center are abundant with corporate happy hours and socials. On weekends at home, you may expect to go for a round of golf or attend a sporting event with a few clients and prospects. Though they may have started as clients and prospects, you’ve begun to refer to many of these familiar faces as friends and eagerly look forward to socializing with them at events, conventions, and in-office visits. Those were the days, right?

Before the pandemic, it was exciting to plan and host interactions with clients. Today, however, B2B companies are all asking the same question: How on earth should I interact with my clients and prospects during COVID-19?! The perfect answer is unclear. Client circumstances, proximity, and safety must be taken into account and will vary from business to business. Here is what State National Companies is keeping top of mind when it comes to mid-pandemic event planning.

For Group, Client, and Prospect Events

Why don’t we just host all of our events online through video chat platforms like Webex, Zoom, and Skype? In enters Zoom fatigue. I would not be surprised if this phase became Merriam-Webster’s 2020 word of the year. Virtual events can provide value, but high-quality and relatively low quantity is important to avoid further burning out your already Webex-weary clients. When you host a virtual event make it worthwhile for your attendees who may have already been sitting in the same chair in their home office for eight hours before attending your virtual event.

Some noteworthy ideas to increase event value include:

  • Deliver Grubhub or Uber Eats to your clients when visiting virtually during lunch and dinner hours
  • Send a gift straight to their door
  • Hold a raffle at the end of your event
  • Bring in virtual entertainment by hiring a celebrity or comedian to “zoom in” to your event
  • Bring an event activity to your client virtually by hiring a chef or bartender to teach your clients a new recipe over video chat (this is also a great way to support local restaurants)
  • Provide exclusive industry insights and white papers for attendees

For One-on-One Client Interactions

State National Senior Client Executive Dawn Johnson provides excellent insight and inspiration for maintaining client interactions from a distance. She says that while logistics are difficult, there is definitely an appetite among her clients for B2B interactions. While she has not been able to visit most clients in the office, she puts effort into to finding creative ways to reach out. Wine and custom chocolates are some of her favorite go-to gifts, and recently she was able to meet up with a client for a socially distanced park picnic. Although not all of her fabulous ideas have come to fruition, Dawn is utilizing her network and vast knowledge of Seattle’s restaurants to incorporate safe, socially distanced experiences.

Other forms of one-on-one client interactions include written letters and a good old-fashioned phone call.

Above All Provide Value — and Recognize Times Are Tough!

A recurring conversation I hear among our sales and service teams is to be patient and recognize that, just like leaders in businesses of all kinds, credit union, bank, and finance company leaders have a lot to navigate right now. They’ve had to not only change how they interact with you as a business partner, they’re dealing with learning how to successfully operate in a radically changed environment when it comes to their customers, employees, business processes, technology, and many other factors.

It might be a while before some of them have the bandwidth to socialize, online or otherwise. To offer our support to leaders who are in this position, State National is working closely with industry experts, our client partners, Filene Research Institute, and our parent company Markel to produce high-quality content, including surveys, webinars, and white papers, to help them navigate these “unprecedented times.” We hope the insights we are able to provide are of help as they adjust to a changed world and build a whole new way of doing business.

Catalina Uriarte
Catalina Uriarte
Catalina Uriarte is a part of State National’s marketing department. With her tagline “Creative innovation designed to inspire action,” Catalina describes herself as a curious creative who looks forward to taking on new challenges. She earned her B.A. in Public Relations from the University of North Texas and she plays an essential role in planning and executing State National’s corporate client events.

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How Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) Mitigates the Risk Caused by Record High Auto Prices

Now, more than ever, it is critical to protect your auto loan portfolio with GAP Vehicle values have been at historic highs for the past year If you considered purchasing a vehicle this summer, you likely experienced some degree of sticker shock. New and used vehicle prices skyrocketed earlier in 2021 and are only now showing signs of a slight slowdown. How did we get to the point where reported the average trade-in value of used vehicles was up 75.6% Year-Over-Year (YOY) in June? Simply stated, it all began last year. The manufacturing shutdowns of early 2020 left dealers with low inventory levels as shelter-in-place orders lifted and consumers, armed with stimulus funds and a desire to spend, went auto shopping in droves. The resulting low dealer inventories meant that would-be new car buyers were often forced to consider used vehicle options instead. Both new and used vehicles prices started rising in response to this unusual surge in demand. Despite seeing some stabilization of vehicle pricing in late 2020, things took a turn for the worse this year due to the global shortage of microchips. According to TrueCar, a Consumer Reports partner, there still remains an inadequate allocation of microchips for automobile manufacturers, exacerbating the inventory shortages that began in 2020. With inventory down as much as 50% in some areas, willing and able consumers are paying significantly more, with 20% of all new car purchases in May 2021 transacting at amounts above MSRP. This phenomenon has not been limited to new car purchases only — CNBC shared earlier this month that the average price of a used vehicle was up 21% YOY with a 10% increase from Q1 2021 to Q2 2021. What does the future hold for car values? July witnessed a slight reduction in the rate at which vehicle prices were increasing YOY. However, Carvana’s CEO, Ernie Garcia, warns that the cost of used cars will not normalize until manufacturers can produce inventory at pre-2020 levels. Supply chain challenges are likely to cause “some lasting” impact on used car prices, said Garcia on an August 6th CNBC’s Squawk Box. Black Book, in their 2021 Vehicle Depreciation Report, paints a slightly less optimistic picture, projecting “residual forecasts to return to pre-COVID 19 valuation levels in 3 years.” How will this valuation normalization impact lending portfolios? For a variety of reasons, many consumers found themselves paying in excess of MSRP or NADA for a vehicle over the past 18 months. This reality will not change overnight — it will take the automobile manufacturers replenishing and maintaining inventory levels on a consistent basis for prices to normalize. Whether that be in 2022, or in 3 years as predicted by Black Book, the reset of vehicle valuations has the potential to negatively impact your auto loan portfolio. Black Book’s annual vehicle depreciation rates averaged approximately 13% for each of the 9 years prior to 2020, when it dropped to just 2%. As vehicle valuations fall back in line with more historic depreciation models, loans already on the books as well as loans written through the remainder of 2021 will reflect inflated sales prices. In the event of a future theft or total loss at a time when vehicle values are back to pre-COVID-19 levels, primary carrier Actual Cash Value (ACV) settlements will result in unprecedented deficiency balances. And that is where GAP can help. Essential protection for you and your borrowers GAP has always been an important risk management tool. However, in today’s economy when vehicles are still selling above MSRP or NADA, it is especially important to lenders and borrowers alike for collateral to be protected against the changes in valuation expected over the next several years. Private Passenger Auto carriers settle total loss claims based on the ACV of the vehicle immediately prior to the loss, regardless of the original sales price. Inflated sales prices mean inflated loan balances on the date of loss, resulting in increased deficiency balances — the exact thing GAP is designed to protect. Not only will your potential charge-offs be reduced with GAP protecting your collateral, but your borrowers will also be better positioned to finance their replacement vehicle without the burden of having to satisfy a large deficiency balance on their original loan. How State National's GAP is different The State National GAP product provides unparalleled flexibility in the marketplace, primarily given our unique position as the direct sales force, underwriter, and program administrator. With options to protect amounts up to 150% of MSRP or NADA, you won’t need to worry about future deficiency balances resulting from today’s extraordinary market conditions. Additionally, you can rest easy knowing your pricing is not inflated to cover agent costs or, worse yet, that you will be part of an across-the-board rate adjustment because another lender’s program is not performing as expected. If you’re looking for the most efficient GAP claim submission process (it’s true — we really do not require any supporting documentation to initiate a GAP deficiency balance claim) and fastest claim settlement time (2 to 3 days, on average), isn’t it time you consider State National for your GAP Program? Contact us today to start protecting your consumer loan portfolio from the effects of inflated auto prices — driving a more positive experience for you and your borrowers.     Contact us today to receive more information about GAP from State National. Francine Gagliano, State National Director of Client Services 817-265-2000 x1247 or


State National Employees Crowdsource to Give Their Company Blog a Name When we launched our State National blog in 2020 as part of our company’s newly redesigned website, we had a few goals in mind: To provide valuable thought leadership and educational content that could be of help to our clients, potential clients, and anyone else in the industry whether they ever became a client or not To add even more transparency (one of our main core values) around the way we do business To help others in the industry get to know more about the thoughts and insights of some of our experienced subject matter experts and assist in building relationships To share more about the company culture we’re very proud of with those in the industry and with potential future employees And of course (speaking of transparency), because we are in business — to share benefits and features of our products and services and show credit unions, banks, and finance companies how we can serve them and help them be more profitable and successful The blog has been a great success so far, and we’ve received really positive feedback about the value people are receiving from our content — thank you!