5 Unique Ways to Retain and Grow Your Customer Base

Many insurance agency owners fret continuously about how to grow their business.  What is more important:  acquiring new leads, converting those leads into customers or retaining the customer base you already have.  The simple answer is all three aspects are equally important.  In order to grow, your business has to be adding new customers.  At the same time, your agency cannot grow your business unless you are retaining customers you currently have.  Growth will not happen if you are only replacing lost customers.  The good thing for agency owners is, most tactics your business can take impact more than one of these aspects of your business.  In today’s business climate; finding a good niche, the speed and responsiveness of your customer service, the importance of social media and the ability to blog to establish your organization as a true subject matter expert in your industry are all crucial to the continued growth of your business.  Here are 5 key ways to retain and grow your customer base.

Marketing equals good niche more and more.

For agencies to distinguish themselves, they have to find their niche.  For some agencies that niche is their local community.  For other agencies, it might be specializing in a particular coverage like workers’ compensation insurance or a difficult to quote industry like the trucking industry.  Whatever your niche is, it is important to own that niche and use it to distinguish yourself from the competition.

Good service and availability /responsiveness of agent

Availability and responsiveness are more critical than product knowledge and expertise.  Whether or not you know the answer to the customer’s question is not as important because all of that knowledge can be looked up or found through the carrier, but the time you make a customer wait before they get a response is what can cause them to choose another agency when it is time to renew.  If your staff is not easy to reach or they do not respond within a respectable amount of time you give your customer a reason to look elsewhere for coverage. Communication is key to keeping customers satisfied.  The more open, honest and often you communicate with your customers; the better the relationship will be with them.  This will make it more likely these customers will be repeat customers.

You have to ask or volunteer to solve problems as a way to retain your customer base

Just like the speed of your service is more important than the amount of knowledge your staff have, solving problems that your customers do not anticipate is as important as being their when they have a claim.  The employees of an insurance agency are the risk management and insurance experts. This is your industry and your area of expertise.  If you use that knowledge to not only sell and service customers, but also to advice customers about risks they may not know they face. This is very common in commercial insurance.  Workers comp insurance is one coverage that business owners are required to cover, but hopefully they do not use it often.  When they do have an injured worker, it is your job as an insurance professional to help customers navigate the insurance landscape. Even if all you are doing is finding the phone number for the proper person and department at the carrier for them to contact.  The way in which you do this can make all the difference when it comes to customer retention.  

Social media is as important as ever.

It has always been important to interact with your customers in the way in which they want to interact with your business.  In the past, that meant being open and available to them in your office. I might have meant responding to them over the phone quickly or come over to their office for a sit down visit.  Now it means responding quickly to emails or having a presence on social media.  A strong presence on social media can help you retain customers as well as reach new customers.  One way is to reach them on their terms and at their level.  If the customer values social media than your presence, there is another reason for them to like you.  If a potential customer values a strong social presence and they see you have no presence or that your last post was years ago, it may down grade your credibility in the eyes of that customer.  Ultimately the decision will come down to price and service, but the more things you can do to get the customer on your side the better.  The best businesses use social media as another way to gain favor in the eyes of their potential customers.

A blog is one way to separate yourself from the competition. 

A blog can be another way for an insurance agency to differentiate from the competition. A good blog gives you the opportunity to establish your business as a leader in the industry.  The way to gain credibility online is to answer questions for the customer. To give the potential customer some bit of knowledge they are looking for, for free.  A blog can help you reach out to existing and potential clients and answer the questions they want answered without involving a sales pitch.  The more avenues you have to establish credibility for your organization the better. A blog is another way in which you can give the customer what they want, the way they want it.  This adds another dimension of credibility to your potential customers and can give your agency the credibility it needs to win more leads and to convert more of those leads into customers.

Walt Capell
Walt Capell started Workers Compensation Shop.com in 2005. Workers Compensation Shop.com is a rapidly growing national insurance agency with a strong reputation for forward-thinking, out-of-the-box products and solutions for business owners. Walt would like to use his experience as a small business owner and insurance expert to benefit the next generation of small business leaders.

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