Use these tips to help build strong relationships and increase customer retention.
Insurance isn’t a luxury that we can simply dismiss. Some circumstances are beyond all control and can’t be avoided – calling for the need of this safety net. Because there’s so much uncertainty in the world, it's a necessity for many businesses to be insured and ready for when the next dilemma occurs.
Insurance agents working with program administrators within a niche industry brings forth a tricky task. How do you match your client with the right program? Does the client share the same values as your agency? These are two important questions that you need to ask on your journey to building a relationship, and to growing and retaining business. Unfortunately, getting the answers may not be an easy task.
Finding the right coverage for your clients
Identify whether the coverages offered are broad enough to suit the needs of your client. In some industries, especially in the public entity sector, there is a high turnover rate within leadership positions. You’ll often find that those holding these new decision-making positions may not fully understand the varying exposures associated with their businesses, and may not be familiar with insurance coverages that could combat these risk exposures. Instead, they tend to focus on saving money. In this instance, it’s your job to educate the client of possible deficiencies in coverage.
By simply educating the insured, you could be saving them out-of-pocket expenses when an incident occurs making your service to them stand out from all the others who are trying to work their way in the door. When you fully know their exposures, it will be easier to assess the appropriate program for their needs.
Do your values align with the program administrator?
Agents also need to determine if the program administrator shares the same culture and values as the agency. This commonality is often overlooked, but it is imperative that your client consider placing their insurance with an agency and program administrator that shares the same strong commitment to their industry as well as to their community. A deep level of trust develops when there is an alignment between culture and values.
So, you’ve built a solid relationship with the insured but suddenly you’re faced with competition as your client takes their insurance out to bid. Now what?
Assess your client relationships
How frequently do you keep in contact with existing customers? If you’re only catching up with them at renewal time, consider keeping communication consistent when trying to build great relationships. Frequent communication is a great way to build relationships with people. You can do so via phone, email or face-to-face.
- Face-to-face communication is the best option of the three. It’s a proven fact that people are able to create a stronger connection and sense of trust when they look each other in the eyes while talking.
- A phone call is a great option if schedules don’t permit a physical meeting. A conversation over the phone can allow you to listen for concerns before they become real problems.
- Email is an efficient way to communicate for the sake of documentation and memorializing important concerns. Avoid using this platform as your primary communication as there’s plenty of room for misinterpretation. This method is great for follow-ups and summarizing key points from conversations.
Ask clients the tough questions, and listen
There could be many reasons why your client is looking elsewhere for insurance, but it’s your job to find out why. Spend the time to develop and ask questions. Doing so can provide you with insight and help rectify any issues. A few questions to consider include:
- Is there a reason why the insured is taking the account out to bid?
- Was a standard procedure put in place by the board, leading the insured to look at other options when it comes time for renewal?
- Have they had any issues with their insurance carrier?
- Did they have a bad experience with someone within your insurance agency?
Frequently ask your client if they are satisfied with their current service from your agency and the carrier. This sets the stage to address issues before they get out of control, and also helps improve your agency and their carrier. Your sincerity in wanting to improve their experience will go a long way in developing a stronger connection and can aid in growing your business.
Ask them directly what it would take for them to reconsider putting their insurance out to bid. They just might surprise you with their answer.
Let’s face it – no one really wants to pay for insurance. It’s an obligation and a process that can be a bit cumbersome. Being in the insurance industry, it is our responsibility to try and take the sting out of the whole experience for the buyer. In doing this, we should never underestimate the need for trust in our interactions with our clients. Someone once said that “Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there's no reason to continue.”
Cheryl Smola, Glatfelter Public Practice
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