Updated: Jun 7
You’ve acquired new customers at your agency - woohoo!! That means you’re growing, right?
Maybe, but not necessarily.
Acquisition only leads to growth if you’re retaining your customers, too.
You know that. This isn’t breaking news.
When you’ve worked as hard as you do to acquire a new customer, you need to keep them in your book, so all that time, energy, money, and other resources spent pay off.
So once you’ve sold the new policy, what do you do to ensure they’re with you for the long haul?
Remember: the sale isn’t over even after they’ve signed and you’ve initiated the policy.
Agreeing to the first sale doesn’t mean they’re entirely sold on you and the coverage yet.
You have to consistently prove to them, again and again, that your agency is the best option for them.
Selling the policy and falling off their radar shortly after communicates that you prioritize selling over their needs.
Many agencies are struggling with capacity issues right now, and you might be worried that onboarding for retention creates more work for you and your team.
However, it doesn’t have to be just another thing to add to your plate - it’s your first opportunity to establish client relationships that will last. (Bizagi)
One thing that all of the elements we’ll talk about today have in common: they’re all proactive.
And if you’re a regular reader of our blog, it might feel like we’re beating a dead horse by how much we talk about proactivity.
Chris Langille of Advisor Evolved said it perfectly, so I won’t paraphrase:
“Differentiating yourself from competitors is becoming harder and harder, and as much as you may think your cheerful and up-beat staff is winning over clients, you’re not the only team with this quality.
But you could be in the small percentage of agencies who are over-the-top proactive with their book, and that will be what separates you from other experiences your customer has had.
…On-boarding the right way can turn a price-conscientious consumer into someone who rarely looks at their monthly bill, much less their renewal statement.” (Advisor Evolved)
On top of all that, over 50% of insurance clients leave their agents because they think their agents feel indifferent toward them. (Agent Pipeline) That tells us that to keep your customers, you have to convince them that you care!
Ready to differentiate yourself from the competition and keep your customers for the long haul?
We’ve got you covered with a few elements of an onboarding process that will show your customers that you care, which leads to improved retention.
The First Interaction
While this would technically be in the acquisition phase, it’s also the starting point to onboarding.
Every interaction your prospective client has with you or your agency will either draw them in or push them away.
I won't get into sales in this post, and if you want to learn more about acquisition, you can check out this blog post: Retention Focused Acquisition in Insurance - Work Smarter, Not Harder.
I will say that the more care you take to ask questions and make sure the coverage you’re providing is exactly what your prospective client needs, the more trust they’ll have in you from the getgo.
Be diligent in asking what questions they have. What concerns do they have? Is there anything they wanted that hasn't been offered yet?
Ask these questions before initiating the policies.
Doing so will set both you AND your client up for a happy, long-term client-agent relationship.
Now that you’ve sold the policy, take some time to communicate expectations with your new client.
How often should they expect to hear from you?
And what are their preferences for contact?
Do you hold annual reviews? Let them know when to expect a call for that.
How to contact you
And to expect a welcome package (more on that in the next section)
Setting expectations and making them aware of when you’ll be reaching out warms them up for those interactions to come.
Think about it like a shipping notification for an order you’re excited about. Once you get that notification, it’s on your mind, and the anticipation builds more excitement about the order to come.
Knowing what to expect also fosters trust and more peace of mind for your customers.
Mailed Welcome Package
Because insurance is an intangible product (until someone has to file a claim), you must show them the value of your product.
You can make their coverage more tangible by…well..providing a tangible!
Not only does a welcome package provide a tangible product, but depending on the contents of the package, it can also reassure your new client that they made the right decision by choosing you.
It can also set them up for success by knowing how to contact you, getting to know you and your team, and ultimately feeling like you put in an effort to serve them proactively.
Here are some things to consider including in a welcome package:
Documents introducing the team
Include workplace photos and family photos
Pens, magnets w/ contact info, keychain, mugs, etc.
Business/contact info cards
Referral program info
Instructions for filing claims
Cardholders for auto policies
Personalized, handwritten thank you note
One document with all products and services you offer
This prepares them for future cross-sells AND to give you referrals
QR codes to direct them to the app or website where they can view the material digitally
(Welcome packet ideas gathered from Advisor Evolved and Quotit)
You don’t need to overdo it. The important thing here is to provide value and strengthen the relationship.
And like we mentioned in the previous section, let your new customer know when to expect their welcome package!
While the welcome package is impactful, it’s not something you can do regularly (And I doubt your customers would want you to send them packages all the time).
Having a digital/email sequence of touchpoints is a more sustainable way to continue to connect with your customers.
Of course, you don’t want to bombard your customers with unnecessary emails, but a consistent cadence that adds value will improve retention.
By popping in from time to time through email, you’re showing in yet another way that you care enough about your customers to serve them proactively.
You aren't waiting for them to come to you with a problem.
It opens up the lines of communication and keeps you top of mind, so when they have a question, or better yet, a friend who needs insurance, you’re the first agency they’ll think of!
Only contacting your clients when it’s time for renewal or if they missed a payment communicates that you only care about them to the extent that they benefit you (whether that’s how you actually feel or not).
Here are some ideas for email touchpoints that bring value:
Educational info relevant to their policies
Inform them about other products/services you offer
Show customers where they can leave reviews (especially after a positive interaction with your agency)
Ask for referrals or tell them about your referral program
Invite them to follow your social media pages
Ask for feedback through surveys
Holidays, birthdays (although I’d argue a handwritten birthday card sent in the mail would be more impactful than an email).
Check-in Phone Calls
A phone call to check in within the first 2 months of initiating your client’s policy might be one of the most critical elements of a successful onboarding process.
Calling to check-in to see how they’re doing and asking them what else you can do to make their lives easier will play a large part in differentiating you from other agencies and strengthening the new relationship. (Quotit)
Even if they don’t answer the phone when you call, leave a voicemail letting them know you’re there if they have questions and how to reach you.
Keep in mind that customer outreach shouldn’t stop after the first couple of months, though.
According to research by Rough Notes, 73% of customers want to hear from their insurance agent more often than just at renewal. (Rough Notes)
So, like the email touchpoints, you need to have a plan/cadence in place for outbound phone calls as well.
Creating an Onboarding Process that Works
You know your customers better than we do, so make sure to create an onboarding process that fits your agency and your book of business.
If you don’t have an onboarding process in place or your current approach isn’t working, don’t worry. It will take a bit of trial and error to figure out what feels good to you and your clients.
Don’t give up early - you’ll need to give it time and consistency to see the improved retention you’re working for.
The ideas we’ve shared today have worked for agents everywhere, so pick a couple and implement them!
Most importantly, be proactive in servicing your clients.
They’ll notice it, appreciate it, and stay with you for the long haul.
What did we miss? Tell us what has worked for you in the onboarding process to increase retention! We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.