Learn how to develop strong client relationships by putting your clients’ needs first and becoming a great communicator.
In the insurance industry, client interactions are often limited to sales-related activities, like policy renewals, recurring premium statements, or maybe a direct-sales letter or flyer touting a specific product.
As a result, many clients think of insurance agents as salespeople with one thing in mind: their customers’ money.
That’s the risk that goes along with having infrequent and impersonal relationships with your clients. And if you don’t take steps to correct it, chances are pretty good that one of your competitors will step in and take the lead.
The first step in developing better client relationships is putting your clients’ needs first. The second step? Being a good communicator.
Here are five important ways to combine those two initiatives to let your clients know just how much you value them.
1. DON’T ALWAYS BE SELLING
As an established agent, you spend a lot of time selling your products and services, and sometimes it can be difficult to switch gears and leave the selling behind. But to really make your clients happy, you need to provide information that your clients find useful.
If you’re posting about home and auto insurance, it’s fine to post about the pros and cons of scheduling personal property. Just don’t use your blog as a direct-sales tool. Provide information about other options and make sure the product information you’re offering is balanced and as impartial as possible.
Otherwise, you risk appearing more interested in making a sale than in truly helping your clients.
2. MAKE IT PERSONAL
There’s nothing wrong with sending out email blasts to a lot of clients at once. And you don’t have to tailor every mode of communication to every individual client’s needs (pretty much an impossible task anyway).
But you can take other steps to make your interactions more personal. Think beyond the usual birthday cards and delve into your clients’ interests.
Do they have a boat? Keep an eye out for articles they might be interested in. Kids? A $10 gift card to a local pizza place makes weeknight dinners less of a hassle (and provides a potential opportunity to cross-market with the restaurant too).
For birthdays and other occasions, skip the e-card and opt for a paper version. It’s much more personal and shows you’ve put real effort into it. (Just remember: Leave out any type of sales pitch; that means if a client is turning 65, you don’t use the card to push Medicare Advantage plans.)
3. GET SOCIAL
Being present on social media is important for growing your client base and building your brand, but if all you’re doing is posting, you’re missing out on half the benefits.
The other half is responding to customers and even actively engaging them with questions, polls, and contests.
Sharing photos of something going on in your office or something else related to work or to your clients can attract more shares and views too — just steer clear of politics, religion or other controversial topics, and try to keep things informative or light-hearted.
And when you get responses from clients, respond promptly and positively — even if it’s a negative comment or complaint. Negative comments are great opportunities to show how responsive, helpful and solutions-oriented your agency can be.
4. PRIORITIZE IT
With so much on your plate every day, client engagement is often overlooked or put on a back burner until a day when you have “more time.”
Instead of pushing off engagement activities until the end of your day when they’re more likely to be ignored entirely, make customer engagement a priority. Set aside some time in your daily schedule to interact on social media, to send out a card or two, or to interact in other personal ways with one or two individual clients.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and it can yield tremendous benefits. Get out your daily calendar right now and schedule some client contact time over the next few days, even if you only use that time to brainstorm better ways to connect and communicate in the coming weeks.
Better communication means greater customer satisfaction, more word-of-mouth referrals, and improved client retention — all of which can translate to an improved bottom line for your business.
Even better? Being a good communicator takes a surprisingly small amount of effort once you have a simple system in place. That means even a modest time investment can yield a major ROI and offer long-term benefits for your business.
5. HAVE A CUSTOMER CHAMPION IN YOUR OFFICE
Speaking of better communication, consider adding a customer experience champion to your agency’s team. A customer champion is a conduit between your customers and your agency. The individual you select as your point-person serves a key role in the relationship your agency has with its customers.
Customer experience champions represent customers and their experience in discussions within your agency. Their focus is putting your customer’s needs first and is vested in improving the customer experience at every phase.
Whether it’s a question posted to your agency’s Facebook page or someone walking through your front door, the person answering that patron sets the direction of the relationship that is built from that point on. Every interaction between your agency and your customers can help build or burn your brand.
True customer experience champions won’t settle for anything less than putting your customer at the very center of your business and keeping them there.