It’s time to poke the bear
When it comes to maintaining ongoing communications with their customers, many independent insurance agents and brokers are as reticent to start sending out emails as they would be to poke a sleeping bear. “They’re already customers,” they think. “If I email them, they might remember they’re paying for insurance, and they’ll leave me!” This view point is more prevalent than you might imagine. But it is misguided.
The statistic that we always share with such agents is that 60% of insurance clients don’t believe they get any additional value from their agent or broker after they’ve written a check. 60%! On top of that, a full 86% think the communication with their agent is lacking. With that kind of dissatisfaction in our market, establishing consistent communication with your customers isn’t poking a sleeping bear, it’s dealing with a bear that’s already awake and pretty angry.
Insurance agents face unique challenges when trying to communicate with their clients. First of all, insurance is complicated and misconceptions abound among consumers. Most people feel they understand enough about insurance to make intelligent decisions, similar to the way they buy things on Amazon, when the reality is exactly the opposite. As a licensed expert, you are aware of the intricacies of the insurance market and have real value you can provide. So how do you let your customers know that you’re the one to help solve their problems?
1. Provide ‘commercial teaching’
The key is not to simply blast someone once with a ton of information and hope they absorb it all. “The Challenger Sale” by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon is a book written specifically for sales teams, but it has a lot of practical advice for anyone who is responsible for attracting prospects, generating leads and converting them into clients. The book introduces a concept called “Commercial Teaching.” A Forbes article reviewing the book said this about commercial teaching:
Successful salespeople challenge their customers by not simply responding to their needs but actually redefining them. A good challenger provides insight, helps a customer avoid pitfalls, and offers products and services that the client doesn’t even know exist.
2. Use your knowledge to keep clients loyal
By responsibly educating your clients and prospects about the intricacies and importance of insurance coverage you can inspire them to not only retain your services but to become an active and loyal customer. It is a simple exchange: knowledge for loyalty, security for references.
Commercial teaching provides a tangible value add, which leads to an increase in loyalty in the customers who benefit from the information. There are few things more valuable to an independent agent than loyalty. A loyal customer delivers more than 250% more referrals than your average disgruntled customer. A loyal customer renews at a rate of 97%. A loyal customer buys 25% more insurance. These statistics illustrate why turning your disgruntled customers into engaged, loyal advocates can transform your business.
Another thing that loyal customers do is leave positive reviews. There are many places that a review can be left online now, from Yelp to Glassdoor to your Facebook page. And with 81% of all consumers researching major to minor purchases online before they pull the purchase trigger, it’s important that the reviews you have online are positive. It’s your reputation, and you need to manage it. That is why you can’t afford to let the bear go unpoked.
3. Avoid jargon and technical terms
We find that most insurance agents have strong personal communication skills, but often their ability to deliver the messages in a written format could be lacking. One problem we often see is over-jargoning your communications. Using too much insider terminology is usually an attempt to impress an audience with your expertise.
What’s more impressive, however, is the ability to explain the concepts in a way that will not only help someone with no insurance training to understand it but also help them be able to recall and repeat the information later to other parties. Information can go viral this way and result in an increased book of business that can dramatically improve your bottom line.
4. Be memorable
Perception is often more powerful than reality. Even if you’re sending out the odd missive, it’s not providing you with the kind of social proof you’re hoping for. More than 44% of insurance clients believe they have not received a single communiqué with their agents in the last 18 months whether that’s the case or not. If you want to retain and grow your client base, your communications should be intelligent and understandable. They should come out at a pace that gives your clients the chance to internalize them and even miss a few without missing out on your expertise entirely.
When it comes to a consistent communication strategy it is well worth the effort to take the chance and start poking the bear right now; you may avoid an even worse bear attack down the road. So don’t hold back. Poke that bear, and see how much your business improves.
Rick Fox is the president of Agency Revolution, and former independent insurance agency owner. This article was originally published on Property Casualty 360, the original publication can be found here.