How to create a great customer experience

Did you know that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for an exceptional customer experience with your brand? That shouldn’t be a surprise to most agents because we know our industry relies on relationships as much as anything else to grow our businesses. But in an era where technology has made virtual interactions the norm, many agents may find it difficult to take their in-person skills and translate them into a digital version. 

But connecting on a personal level online isn’t so different from interacting with a customer in person. What your customers and prospects want online are often the same things they want in the physical world: a human connection, exceptional customer experience, personalization, and, yes, instant gratification. It’s easy to see why a great customer experience is good for business, but how do you create the best experience for your customers?

Isn’t the Customer Experience the Same as Customer Service?

It’s easy to get confused about all the jargon in marketing, so we thought it important to distinguish between the two. Customer service happens when a customer interacts with your agency in person or via telephone and speaks to someone who is helpful and friendly. Customer experience happens when a customer gets an unexpected follow-up call to make sure they got the information they need. See the difference? 

Great customer service often means meeting expectations, but a great customer experience means doing so much more. But doing more doesn’t have to mean expending more resources, especially with marketing and service automation. Consider your agency management system. You have your customer’s account history, their age, and, very often, personal information about what’s important to them. Put that data to work and reach out to your customers when changes or additional policies provide them with the protection they need — that’s a good customer experience in anyone’s book.  

We talked with Jeff Roy, President & CEO of the Excalibur Insurance Group in Canada, about what it takes to thrive as an “insurancepreneur.” His take: Stop selling insurance and start building a brand experience that seamlessly delivers on your clients’ wants, the way they want them.

A Good Customer Experience Is Good for Everyone

When your customers have a positive experience interacting with your agency, they feel good — and so should you. Remember our opening? Not only will they pay more for a satisfying experience, they will probably be more loyal over the long haul. How long? Customers who rate brands as having a superior customer experience are loyal for up to six years! That means more opportunities for referrals, cross-selling, and more, because most people want to do business with people that care about a great customer experience.  

If you want to know how to improve customer service in insurance, here are five tips from Jeff to jumpstart your strategy:

1. Tech is great, but experience is greater.

“[The top agencies] they realize technology is not a strategy, it’s a lever, it’s part of your strategy and it’s important, but technology is not a strategy. They actually are using technology to provide, to accelerate that human-to-human connection.”

Jeff firmly believes that human connection is the key to a thriving business. Technology can (and should) be used to bridge the gap between you and your clients. But before you can build the bridge, you’ve got to have a blueprint. Decide what your client needs, craft your message, and then amplify your message by using all the shiny tech tools at your disposal.

2. What the top agencies are doing right now (and you should copy)

“The agencies at the top aren’t an insurance business first, they’re an experience business, so they’re looking at how they show up and wow people every touchpoint, and how they use data and analytics to actually analyze all the touchpoints to make decisions. They offer clients choices on how they interact with their agency. They offer facts, they offer internet texting, they can Skype. They give people choice because the bottom line is people want to do business how they want to do business with, not how we think they want to do business.”

As Jeff points out, today’s most profitable agencies prioritize client experience over products. No matter how great your agency is, if you can’t provide content to your clients the way they prefer to receive it, you’re creating friction. Look at the numbers—how do your clients want to do business? Use the insights to tailor your agency to your clients’ needs and provide a consistent brand experience across a range of platforms. Not only will you have happy customers, your agency will be better equipped to pivot to address your clients’ ever-changing needs.

3. What matters to your client

“One of my favorite lines is “What registers on people’s give a shit-a-meter.” That’s by far the best way to explain it because my job is to figure out what’s important to a client.”

Jeff and Excalibur aim to see their clients as more than just a risk profile. Understanding your clients’ family dynamic, job, and what they do for fun helps your agency address their concerns and anticipate their future needs. It also saves you from wasted effort and money developing services or products your clients don’t ultimately care about.

4. You’re not competing with every other insurance agency—you’re competing with everyone.

If somebody gets a quote on Amazon on their book and they can buy it in seconds, why can’t my policy be bought right after that quickly? That’s the huge shift right now. People didn’t compare agents to other industries, but now you’ve got Amazon, you got iTunes. Even people on Tinder can go look shopping for their next significant other with the swipe of their thumb, right? They made everything easier. Back then, you could have a lot of friction and people tolerated it.

Right now, anyone with a wifi connection can order a pizza or schedule a late-night triste with a single swipe. What a time to be alive! Getting what we want right when we want it has become the new norm. Since shopping around for an insurance quote will never be as exciting as matching with a potential suitor, your agency needs to make the process just as frictionless. Whether it’s instant quotes, an interactive premium calculator or just a brilliantly streamlined app function, start thinking about how your agency can learn from the major players in the “instant gratification” market.

5. “It’s okay to launch and fail.”

As Zig Ziglar once said “If you’re green you’re growing. If you’re ripe you rot.” At Excalibur, Jeff lives by the mantra “launch, fail, learn, fix.” If you have a hunch that an emerging technology, strategy, or service would be beneficial to your agency… try it! Even if it misses the mark, you’re avoiding stagnation. In a world where change is happening at a breakneck pace, the worst thing you can do as an agent is to wallow in your comfort zone. While you want to make smart decisions, don’t let fear keep you from trying something new. Jeff suggests viewing fear as an excuse to “face everything and rise”. Don’t be afraid to see what’s working (or not working) in other industries and learning as much as possible.

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