“Back in the day, I used to be talk to my friends on the phone for hours...”
This is was a snippet of the conversation I had with my nineteen-year-old daughter a few months ago. I was feeling old that day when she shared with me she mostly texts or “Snapchats” her friends when they want to talk. They rarely ever get on the phone to talk. It almost seemed like a foreign concept. She doesn’t even have phone numbers for some friends, just Snapchat and Facebook info. If you have teenagers, you probably know what I am talking about.
For business and the insurance industry, the same shift has been happening as well. In the digital world of social media, client self help portals, instant online quoting, and other digital trends, it has become more difficult to build and maintain relationships with clients.
So is building relationships with clients that important if the world is becoming more digital by the minute?
The simple answer is “yes.”
Unless your agency business model is purely digital, building and establishing relationships with your clients is critical to building and sustaining growth. Even the best digital agencies have processes in place to build relationships with clients.
Here is another question. When does the sales process stop once you’ve acquired a new client? Upon policy issuance? Upon your first commission check?
The answer is never.
Building and enhancing your relationship with your clients allows you to continually sell your client on the most important product… YOU.
Some insurance agents make the mistake of “out of site, out of mind.” Once the sale is made, the next time the agent thinks about the client is upon renewal. Often times, the same agent doesn’t even communicate with the client, except to send an email with the renewal.
Years ago when I purchased my house, my real estate agent referred me to an insurance agent who set me up with my first homeowner policy. Guess how many times he spoke to me in a span of 3 years?
He introduced himself by email, asked me to fill out some forms, and sign some documents. After that, I never heard from him again. 3 years later, I switched agents.
This agent failed to build a relationship with me. I had no connection with him, and he provided zero value to me. The decision to leave him was a no brainer. Unfortunately for him, this is what he missed out in the 12 years since I purchased my house:
1. We expanded our house, so we needed more coverage, which equates to more premium
2. Our auto insurance (he never asked)
a. My wife and my auto policies
b, We bought 3 new cars in that span
c. We added 2 more drivers to the auto insurance (our oldest kids started driving)
3. We added umbrella insurance
If he lost me after 3 years, how many other clients has he lost? How much revenue has he lost over the years from lost clients and existing clients?
Building great relationships with your clients helps with:
1. Retention: The best way to grow your agency is not to lose existing clients.
2. Revenue growth: The best new clients are often your existing clients. Cross-selling existing clients for other lines of insurance or products is the simplest way to grow revenue.
3. Referrals: Referrals or word of mouth from existing clients have one of the highest close rates across all industries and is the best way to grow clients organically.
4. Client “reacquisition”: If you built a great relationship with a client, but ended losing them, the chances of them returning to you are significantly higher.
5. Maximize “life time value of a client”: An often lost concept is the life time value of a client. Using my example, I may have only been “worth” $750 in premium to this agent when I first purchased the policy, but what was my value to him after 15 years? Especially after I added the increased premium and additional policies?
So how do you build relationships when you only have opportunity to speak with the client officially maybe only once or twice a year? How to do you build relationships when the world has become digital?
Here are some tips to help you start building and enhancing relationships with your clients.
1. Develop a communication calendar: A communication calendar helps you organize communication with your clients and sets a regular frequency for contact. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or another frequency, regular communications with your client will allow you to achieve the above objectives.
2. Mix up your communication methods, based on your client profiles and your agency resources
a. In person – Set up in person meetings with clients at your office or their office during renewal and other important dates. Set up meetings at policy half way points to obtain updates and “check in” on your clients. This allows you to gain quality face to face time with your clients
b. Phone – Despite my example with my daughter, phone calls are still paramount to building client relationships. For example, regular check in calls with your clients shows you are dedicated and cares about their business. It allows you to enhance your relationship while identifying their additional needs.
c. Email – Email goes beyond emailing your clients their renewal. Email marketing to existing clients is a great way to stay in front of your clients, and may trigger them to reach out to you.
A word of caution: Don’t spam your clients. Provide them with important, relevant, and educational information (See #5 below). Don’t always push your services with every email. That’s the quickest way for them to “opt-out” or simply ignore your emails.
For more email marketing tips, make sure you download our free Guide, “The Insurance Agency’s Guide to Super Books Online Marketing Results.”
Email marketing services like GetResponse allows you to manage your email campaigns easily.
d. Get social: Utilize social media to connect with your clients. Post content, engage and follow your clients. Again, for more specific tips for social media marketing, make sure you download “The Insurance Agency’s Guide to Super Books Online Marketing Results.”
e. Mail: Mail out personal cards to your clients during important events (e.g. birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, congratulations, thank you, etc.) Write a personal note and sign the card. Don’t just stamp or sign the card. A small personal note goes a long way.
When was the last time you got a card with a personal note from a business?
3. Get local:
a. Host an “open house” at your office, client appreciation, or other event
b. Host an educational seminar for your clients
c. Host a BBQ at a local park for your clients and ask them to invite another business
d. Sponsor, participate or volunteer at a local event (e.g. youth sports, community cleanup, walk-a-thons, etc…)
4. Surveys: Survey your new clients, and existing clients. Surveys allow you to gain insight into how happy your clients are. This allows you to further connect with your client by phone or in person, if you find a dissatisfied client and possibly save them from leaving your agency.
Surveys also allow you to identify your client’s other needs for additional services, which allows you more opportunities to communicate and cross-sell.
Survey software like SurveyGizmo and SurveyMonkey will allow you to easily build and send out surveys to clients. You can also use Google Forms if you are looking for a free solution for simple surveys.
5. Content Marketing: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
Utilizing a combination of the above communication methods, you can deliver valuable information to your clients that they may find valuable, which will enhance your relationship and set you apart from your competition.
A great example of this, are the William Shatner State Farm videos on YouTube, where he spoke of the perils of deep frying a turkey. While the video was funny, it also provided valuable tips and warnings for frying a turkey.
Ultimately, how and what you decide to implement will depend on your client profile, your agency’s resources, and the lines of insurance you sell. Choose the strategies that fit your situation and implement them. Experiment, adjust, and figure out what best fits you. Regardless of what you choose, any action that helps you improve your relationship with your clients, will help you grow your agency while making happier clients.