Insurance agents that are able to build relationships with clients can win over more customers and foster customer loyalty. With customers feeling valued and engaged, getting renewals and referrals can then become easier for agents.
So how do you develop client relationships? Like with any meaningful relationship, agents need to be genuine and put in the time to build positive feelings and trust. Agents should take an interest in their customers, e.g., listening to business owners’ concerns, rather than just seeing them as dollar signs. And they should make clients feel valued.
Putting in the Work Across Channels
Making customers feel valued means agents should go beyond trying to be helpful, courteous, and efficient when answering client queries. These areas are certainly important, but agents can make clients feel special by personalizing their interactions and going the extra mile at times. You don’t have to bend over backward, but you can make small, thoughtful personal gestures. For instance, try sending a client an email about a news article you’d think they’d like if it relates to their business.
Agents also build relationships with clients at times when clients interact with brands on their own. For example, when a customer navigates to your website, they’re often forming an impression about you. If your website is clunky and hard to navigate, they might see your service in a negative light.
If their experience with your site is confusing or has other issues like slow loading times for web pages, your customers could get frustrated, thereby counteracting your efforts to build relationships with your clients. As a result, customers could choose to do business with a competitor that provides a better online experience. That’s why using solutions like Wheelhouse, a SaaS platform from Talage that provides an easy-to-use system for generating online quotes can make such a difference.
Creating a Great Experience
Ultimately, agents should think about how they can create a positive customer experience for clients across all channels and stages. From new clients who might find your brand on social media to existing clients who might be used to having meetings with you about renewals, aim to create a full, positive experience. Great customer experience can help you build strong relationships with clients.
“Customer experience is the perception people have about your brand and products based on their personal interaction, research, and ongoing relationship with you. This perception ultimately influences future purchasing behavior, word of mouth, and brand loyalty,”Sellbrite, an e-commerce service
Delivering exceptional service isn’t just a one-time thing for insurance agents to focus on. Agents need to provide a consistent, high-quality customer experience for insurance customers across all the phases of an agent-client relationship, including during:
- Ongoing Communication
In this guide, we’ll explore how agents can create personalized customer experiences to build relationships with clients across these three stages. In turn, agents can grow their businesses in a positive way.
The right technology can help you personalize the customer experience and build great client relationships with clients. See how Wheelhouse, powered by Talage, can help.
Use Personalization to Build Relationships With Clients
A common thread in building client relationships is making the time and effort to personalize customer interactions. You may be wondering, how do you build relationships with new clients when you don’t know much about them? Well, you might not know all the details, but you can still build goodwill by taking the information you do know as a base.
For example, instead of marketing to potential clients generically, you can tailor your content and conversations toward the industry they’re in. Then, as you get to know their specific business goals and challenges, you can be more personal in your suggestions for the types of policies that you think would work for them.
You can build relationships with existing customers through personalization too. In addition to the example of sending a personalized email with a news article that shows you’re thinking about that client, you can personalize your interactions in other areas, like during the renewal process.
For example, instead of directing existing clients to a generic webpage about your renewal process or sending out an email that looks the same to all recipients, you could use technology like Wheelhouse to create specific landing pages tailored to a customers’ own situation. That way, customers can easily renew and feel valued that you made the effort to acknowledge their specific circumstances.
“Customers are crying out for personalized, real-time, digital or mobile services, and forward-looking insurers can see the value in these types of services for reducing costs, limiting customer switching, and improving customer retention and loyalty.”Accenture
Diving Into Data
While you may be able to infer a few things your prospects and clients like based on your own experience, diving into data can be an even better way to personalize your efforts.
“Effective personalization in 2020 will hinge on how mature an organization is in managing customer data,” notes Adobe. As part of a study with Econsultancy, Adobe found that organizations considered to be customer experience leaders have made areas like social media analytics a digital priority for 2020.
Insurers can dive into social media analytics to more effectively personalize their outreach efforts based on their audience. For example, sharing updates about your firm doesn’t necessarily show your audience that you are in tune with what’s important to them. However, you might look at the built-in social media analytics within social media platforms or social media management platforms (e.g. Hootsuite). Doing so can help you determine that your audience likes, say, content about how to improve work productivity. If you then share more of that type of content, you could start to seem more relevant to your audience.
Also, pay attention to what the data tells you about what channels seem to work for different types of customers and tailor your prospecting accordingly. For example, some types of business owners prefer communicating via social media, whereas others prefer receiving email marketing. If your data shows that your email engagement is the highest among your marketing channels, you might want to double down on this area as a way to build relationships with clients.
Creating more relevant content and focusing on the channels your customers like is a good start, but don’t stop there. Take the time to build relationships with clients by personalizing your content on an individual level. For example, social media management platform Buffer shares how Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants personalizes their social media efforts. When customers mention the brand on social, for instance, Kimpton then replies with a unique, individual response, such as recommendations for things to do in the city that guest is in. They will also store customer data gleaned from social media conversations for future use, so further conversations can be even more personal.
“People on social media want to be seen as individuals with their own likes, habits, and personalities. If you can tap into this, and deliver each message with care, your audience will respond in-kind,” notes Buffer.
Insurers can similarly build relationships with clients by personalizing social media responses, email messages, phone calls, etc., rather than using canned responses. Large insurers might have more resources for individual conversations with customers, but small insurers can also build relationships with clients since they may have a more manageable number of clients to personalize interactions.
Building Relationships Begins at Prospecting
Building relationships should start before you’ve actually signed clients. During the prospecting stage, where you’re looking for customers and communicating with them about your offerings, think about the experience you’re creating.
Don’t Bombard Your Prospects
For example, if your marketing materials are overbearing, such as if you bombard prospects with mailings, that’s generally not a good approach to building relationships with clients. Even if you end up turning these prospects into customers, they may not be strong, loyal clients. How do you build relationships with new clients who aren’t also committed to your business in some way? Perhaps you only converted these clients based on price. That means another insurer could swoop in with better pricing and take your customers.
In contrast, if you create a great customer experience when prospecting, you can find clients more likely to stick with you long-term. Suppose you provide content marketing that helps business owners solve challenges they’re facing, e.g., raising capital. Doing so could create an experience where prospects see you as a trusted, helpful resource.
If customers eventually decide they need your insurance offerings, they might also be more likely to then listen to you if you suggest purchasing additional coverage that fits their business needs. And even if another insurer offers lower prices, creating a great customer experience to build relationships with clients from the outset could make business owners more comfortable partnering with you.
Business Relationships Continue During Onboarding
Once you’ve converted prospects into clients, how do you develop client relationships during the onboarding process? Doing so involves focusing on three key principles:
- Make Onboarding Easy for New Customers: From setting up an account and receiving relevant paperwork to establishing protocols for contacting agents, customers should be at ease every step of the way. Yet if the process feels rushed, disorganized, clunky, etc., you could create a poor customer experience that affects your efforts to build relationships with new clients. As such, make sure your onboarding technology is user-friendly and your communication is clear.
- Make Customers Feel Valued After the Sale: How do you build relationships with new clients if you stop putting in the effort once they actually become a customer? While it may seem normal to work hard to attract customers and connect with them to close deals, that needs to continue during onboarding. Customers should still feel valued after you’ve closed the deal.
“While the term ‘customer onboarding’ sounds like a separate part of business, it is actually fundamental to excellent customer service and the retention it can breed. In a competitive, customer-centric culture, onboarding can give your business the edge it needs to reduce customer churn for maximum profitability,” explains Smartsheet, a project management platform.
- Continue to Personalize Customer Experience Throughout Onboarding: Part of making customers feel valued after the sale means continuing to personalize customer experience as they come on board as a new client. Instead of sending the same materials to every new client, customize onboarding based on factors like the industry your clients are in and the level of service they’re looking for.
Some clients might appreciate meeting with agents to discuss how they can access policy documents, submit claims, and stay informed of risk management practices your agency may recommend. Others may prefer a low-touch approach, where customers access information at their own pace, on their own time.
If you’re unsure which route to take to build relationships with clients, ask them! Honesty and communication go a long way. And you can provide new customers with options, such as individually offering them an opportunity to attend an onboarding meeting, watch a webinar, or receive ongoing communication from your agency. That way you can deliver the specific type of service your new customers request.
How to Build Relationships With Clients on an Ongoing Basis
After you’ve onboarded new customers, how do you develop client relationships? The answer includes bringing a similar level of energy, commitment, and specificity that you provided during the earlier stages.
By continuing to build relationships with clients and making them feel special long after they’ve signed on as new clients, you can increase your chances of turning new customers into recurring customers.
“Customer experience does not stop after the sale — in fact, some of the most powerful opportunities to create loyalty and drive repurchasing and referrals are experiences with service and support after the sale is made,” says Hubspot.
Continue to Personalize Marketing
While you don’t want to oversell clients, you don’t want to stop selling entirely after onboarding either. Instead, you can build relationships with clients by providing ongoing marketing that adds value, such as email newsletters on entrepreneurship. If you have the time, you can personalize this outreach by segmenting your newsletter by industry, so clients in different sectors receive different newsletters.
Identify Preferred Communication Channels
Yet to build strong relationships with clients, agents should continue to make themselves available in customers’ preferred channels. Not everyone values email newsletters. Some might want to meet with agents in-person, others might want to keep in touch on social media and others might value being able to access your blog to learn more at their own pace. Personalizing your ongoing outreach can be a powerful way to make clients feel valued and build relationships with clients.
“Personalized marketing can help insurers increase retention of expiring policies and cross-sell new policies in the face of increasing competition from digital disruptors. Most insurers have the starting ingredients: capable analytics and marketing teams, rich customer data, and multiple channels to reach their customers,” explains McKinsey.
In addition, using platforms like Wheelhouse, powered by Talage, enables you to easily manage existing clients. You can use the platform to retrieve quotes for renewals while maintaining your branding so you display consistency as you build relationships with clients.
Building Relationships With Clients Is Win-Win
Figuring out how to build relationships with clients can be a win-win for both agents and customers. Agents can build a more loyal customer base, thereby leading to more renewals and additional sales opportunities. And clients gain the benefit of finding an insurer who adds value to their own businesses and helps them along the way, rather than seeming like a hindrance.
By personalizing customer communications and consistently keeping customers top of mind across prospecting, onboarding, and with ongoing communication, agents can build these strong client relationships that help both parties.