What role does communication play in increasing retention?
VP Arthur Middleton Hughes (Database Marketing Institute) tells us two ways insurance agents can increase client retention:
Sell another policy
Communicate often with your clients
Something important to note is that you won’t be able to sell another policy (multiline your customers) without communicating with them.
If we’re looking at things this way, then the most important thing you can do to increase your client retention is communicating often with your clients.
A very efficient and valuable way to communicate with your clients is by inviting them to come to your office annually for a customer insurance review appointment (policy review, simple conversation, IFR, FFR, PPR, etc.).
Insurance Agent and Engagex Customer, John McAfee said (in reference to regular customer insurance review appointments):
“Any agent who isn't doing regular meetings [with their customers], they're just losing money. They gotta do it. They gotta do it. They gotta be talking to their customers.
It shows the value of why [the customer] has an agent.
If they're not holding the meetings, go to Geico, I mean, go to a call center environment because that's effectively what you’re saying is “You were important to me when I could sell you something, but you're not important today." and that's going to just open you up to a world of hurt, so I think it's super important that they do it.”
Increased retention, cross-selling opportunities, and encouraging referrals are all products of having an effective customer insurance review program.
So how do these meetings help with those things? Let’s get into it.
1. Opportunities to educate your clients (and explain their options)
People generally don’t like to be sold to.
They come to you, their trusted advisor, for advice and education on how they can keep their families and assets protected.
If you’ve taken the time to answer their questions and help them understand their coverage, they’re much less likely to leave just because Bob Jones down the street has lower prices.
2. Opportunities to optimize their coverage
Even though your customers will be more educated when you meet with them, they still need you, the insurance expert, to help them make sure their coverage is right for them and their current circumstances.
You know how to bundle their policies to keep them protected and give them better prices.
And even if our friend, Bob Jones down the street has lower prices like we mentioned before, the value you give by proactively communicating with your clients will help them stay with you.
Property Casualty 360 surveyed and analyzed feedback from over 2 million US insurance customers about what they value most in their relationship with their insurance agent.
42% - almost half of them said communication was the most important factor.
Poor communication is the top reason for lowering an agent’s Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Two other important factors (tied for 2nd most important) are a positive and friendly attitude, and price at 22%.
Of the 22% who mentioned price, the root cause of frustration with price is that there was poor communication from their agency about it.
It all comes back to communication!
3. Opportunities to get to know your clients
Your customers’ feeling that they know you increases their trust in you and in turn, brings them peace of mind when it comes to their coverage.
If you know your clients well, you’ll be able to provide them with the best options for their current circumstances (just like we talked about in optimizing their coverage above).
You can also start customer segmentation - grouping your customers into different categories that will help you to know what they’re looking for.
You can then serve them in the best way for THEM, and focus your time on the best opportunities for your agency.
4. Keeps you top of mind
Being top of mind isn’t only important in customer acquisition and marketing - it’s vital for retention.
Phone calls aren't the only way to keep you top of mind.
Emails with useful information for the specific type of customer (information you’ve gathered with customer segmentation as mentioned above) will strengthen their trust in you and they’ll realize the value you provide to them.
Informational and educational social media posts that engage your customers are great ways to keep you at the forefront of their minds.
Birthday and anniversary cards, thank you notes, and useful info sent to them helps in the same way.
5. Shows your clients that you’re PROACTIVELY looking out for them
Waiting for them to call you when there’s a problem will not lead to satisfied customers.
If they’re calling you with a problem, chances are, they’ve already spent emotional energy on the issue.
Yes, it’s great when you can solve their problems when they call, but preventing the problem in the first place with clear and consistent communication will be much more valuable to them.
Not hearing from your customers ≠ satisfied customers
And even if your client chooses not to come in for the policy review after you extend the invite, you’ve given them the opportunity and they’re aware of your proactive efforts to keep them protected and happy.
One last thing: The perception gap
Nationwide conducted some Agent Authority research about how insurance customers feel their agents are meeting their needs.
They found an interesting perception gap:
95% of agents said they’re always available when clients need them, while 79% of customers felt that way.
94% of agents said they regularly check in with their customers, and 69% of customers reported getting sufficient check-ins from their agents. (Property Casualty 360)
With this information, we can see that even when insurance agents feel their efforts are sufficient, there’s still a bit of a disconnect when it comes to their customers.
Even if you think your communication efforts are sufficient, it’s vital that you up the ante a bit to compensate for the difference in perception.
This can save you a lot of energy, time, and ultimately money by retaining your existing customers.
Clear, consistent communication is vital to ANY relationship.
Client to Insurance Agent relationships are no exception.
What benefits have YOU seen from clear and consistent communication with your insurance clients?