Maintaining Your Book of Business: 7 Insurance Agency Retention Strategies
Finding clients to fill your book of business is challenging. These days, it is not just about establishing a marketing budget and paying for a few ads. You have to maintain a presence on numerous social media channels, build trust with your prospects, and develop a strong brand for your agency’s good name.
After going through such an arduous undertaking, it can be disheartening to see your customers jumping ship and heading to one of your competitors. Many agents focus so hard on marketing to new prospects that they inadvertently neglect their current clients. That can lead to long-term clients becoming disheartened and leaving your insurance agency. Neglecting existing clients can result in a higher lapse-can ratio than is necessary. You need a sound plan to minimum churn.
The insurance industry, on average, has a customer retention rate of around 85%. A figure which looks good on the surface. But that equates to around 150 customers lost per year out of every 1,000 cients in your book of business. . It cost five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain existing clientele – something that should highlight just how valuable those 150 lost clients are to your success.
Improving your retention strategy is critical to the longevity of your insurance agency. The following tips will help.
Educate Your Clients
You can entice clients to your agency with low prices, but if that is the only thing you have to offer, it will not be long before someone successfully pulls them away with an even lower offer. A battle of the prices is not a sustainable strategy. Instead, you should aim to provide the most value to your clients. Most of today’s wildly, successful agents demand that their team members, “Delight” each customer and turn them into “Evangelizers” for their agency’s brand. Those “Delighted” customers then refer their agency to other friends and family.
One way to demonstrate value to your clients is to help them understand their insurance policies. That means going above and beyond to provide the information they need; equipping them with the necessary information to make the right choices that are best to fit their family’s needs. In short, you have to show them that it is worthwhile staying with you regardless of price. That means getting them mentally, and emotionally, invested in your agency.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness
Anyone who has engaged in a long-term relationship understands the benefit of surprise tokens of appreciation from time to time. It lets the other person know you are thinking about them, that you appreciate them, and that they are valued. It’s also one of the most effective ways to make people start thinking about doing something nice for you.
In psychology, it’s called “reciprocal altruism.” That essentially means “do something nice for someone, and there is a good chance they will do something nice for you.” In your case, that is to renew their policy. It is human nature to appreciate genuine altruism. What’s more, your gestures do not have to be grand.
Sending clients a surprise handwritten thank you note, mentioning them, with their approval of course, on your Facebook page, or handing out balloons to their children when they come to your office are all delightful acts of kindness that will help cement your long-term client relationship.
Some carriers, including United Healthcare, Allstate, and Nationwide offer incentives in the form of deductible reductions for each year of continued insurance. Of course, as an agent, you are unable to change policy offerings. You may, however, be able to offer certain benefits that incentivize your clients to stick with you.
Some perks you could give to your longtime clients include an appreciation party, special discount cards that they can use on common purchases or a dedicated telephone number that gives clients access to your top customer service representatives. Of course, you want to insure that any gifts stick within the rules of the D.O.I. and F.I.N.R.A.
Nurture Social Media Connections
Keeping in touch with clients is one of the most important things you can do for your business. These days, the easiest and most effective way to do that is through social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn play such a fundamental role in people’s lives. You should take the opportunity to communicate with them via these very important networks.
Send them links to content they might find useful, even things that are unrelated to insurance; thank them publicly for their continued support; telll them that you appreciate their business. Customers want to know that anyone they do business with appreciates them as valued clients.
Develop a Regular Client Follow-up Schedule
In addition to maintaining a good social media connection with your clients, you should develop alternative methods of contact. Not everyone appreciates online interactions with their insurance service providers, despite social media’s prevalence. To ensure you are not neglecting some of your client’s needs, you should develop a regular follow-up schedule to contact them by snail mail, email, and over the phone. Of course, most successful agents meet, face-to-face, at least one to two times per year for IFRs (Insurance/Financial Reviews). That personal, face-to-face, touch goes a long ways–that is the type of service which ultimately differentiates the local agent from the 100% “internet only” type insurance providers that are out there today. It really should be a hybrid, multi-channel, approach that’s used to maximize your retention rates.
The clients that are least likely to renew their policies are those that have been with you for less than two years. Pay particular attention to that group of clients. Make sure you are in constant contact with them, particularly during the renewals period.
Own up to Problems and Fix Them Quickly
It’s almost impossible to build a book of business without encountering some problems along the way: issues with claims, inaccurate policy documents, or a client simply having a bad day. When things go wrong, it is natural to blame outside factors beyond your control. While many times the fault might well be out of your control, passing the blame is almost never good for business.
If a client comes to you with a complaint and you blame outside forces beyond your control, they might wonder what reason there is to stay with you. If you have no control over solving the issue at hand, maybe you can’t be relied upon to help them if this or similar problems reoccur.
To make your long term clients feel secure, and give them a reason to stay with your agency, you should be prepared to take the blame. Find ways to reassure them that you will do your best to ensure that the problem does not arise again.
Put Someone in Charge of Retention
Finally, if you have the staff resources, it is worthwhile dedicating someone to client retention. This person will be responsible for developing retention strategies, executing those strategies, and ensuring that certain targets are met – just as a salesperson does for the front end of the business.
To build and maintain a successful agency, you have to ensure a healthy, fresh stream of customers are signing on to your book. But, just as important is ensuring that you are not losing clients out the back door. Small boosts in retention will be an immense benefit to long term profit. Make client retention part of your sales strategy, and you will continually grow your book at a sustainable pace. You’ll also enjoy a higher referral rate, because you’ll “Delight” a higher percentage of your clientele, and turn them into “Evangelists” for your agency.