Numerous studies support the theory that it’s easier – and cheaper – to retain an existing customer than it is to attract a new customer. Estimates vary, but a Forbes contributor noted in a December 2022 article that the cost for acquiring new customers can be five to seven times greater.
Below are seven surefire ways to enhance your efforts to keep your current customers – and help you attract new clients, too.
1: Build a Relationship
It’s essential that you get to know your customers, their business, their needs, their preferences, and their employees. One of the best ways to do this, of course, is to listen. If you ask the right questions and give your customers an opportunity, they will tell you what you need to do to help them. Ask about what their company does, their target audience, goals, annual budget, and competitors. By arming yourself with this information, you’ll be better able to address their wishes and keep them happy.
Part of your effort to build a better client relationship should include frequent outreach, sending birthday and holiday messages, conducting periodic surveys, reaching out by email, text, or call (depending on their preferred communication preference), and responding promptly to any outreach by your clients. It should also include shopping early to provide options to help clients stay on top of upcoming renewals. Clients expect – and deserve – outstanding customer service. Providing it proves to them how much you appreciate them and value their ongoing business.
2: Under-Promise and Over-Deliver
If you are working with a customer who is looking to get coverage immediately, don’t make the mistake of committing to an effective date without knowing what can be reasonably delivered. This is especially true during Q4, with so many firms offering calendar-year or near-calendar-year benefits. Volume in Q4 is high, and you need to keep that in mind when talking with clients. Carrier requirements vary. Some may be more negotiable than others. In the underwriting and enrollment of an insurance contract, there are many steps to be taken – and only a few that can be expedited. Online enrollment may be an option to speed things up, but not every group may lend itself to this. It requires access to a computer and not all employers provide one for each of their workers. (It all depends on the industry, work environment, roles of employees, etc.) Engage in an open dialogue with your customers to ensure expectations are understood on both sides.
The more you can educate your buyers, the better it is for them, for you, and for the carrier. Present them with solutions to address their specific needs, while always keeping scheduling in mind.
3: Maximize Your CRM
A good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is important to every business, but for an insurance sales professional it’s essential. It can help you get – and stay – organized. CRM offers you greater insight into your business – providing you with information on your successes and shortcomings.
CRM can help you build your customer relationship with an annual client survey. It’s a useful tool to find out what’s working – and what is not. Use it to find out how often your customers want to hear from you. Do they want to know about their renewal 90 days in advance – or would they prefer a 60-day advance notice? What about new products? Do they care? Your CRM can help you gain more insight into their preferences. It can also streamline other outreach, with a message customized to each client. A good CRM can improve your time management, help you warm up a cold lead, and enhance your customer service. Read our 2022 blog, 5 Signs You Might Need a CRM System for more useful information.
4: Establish a Referral or Loyalty Program – or Both
We’ve discussed this technique to reward existing customers in past blog posts. A loyalty program offers your current customers a reward for their continuing business. A referral program offers them an incentive when they share contact information for others with you – or when they refer someone to you who later becomes a customer. You can adopt a program with different reward points (X points for a referral, Y points for a referral leading to a sale), and your customers can redeem those points for logo merchandise, gift cards, etc. You can even use your client survey noted above to solicit feedback on what type of referral reward your customers might prefer.
5: Be Honest
It should be obvious, but unfortunately it often is not; honesty is essential. It’s critical to creating a healthy, sustainable relationship with your prospects and clients.
William Shakespeare once said, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” The proverb, “honesty is the best policy,” is based on the idea that the more honest you are, the easier it is for others to trust you.
Any failure to be honest could lead to negative word of mouth. That could undermine your sales and your relationships with future prospects, your general agency (if any), and your carrier connections. When you’re less-than-honest, your long-term business prospects are not good – no matter how charming, witty, or good looking you may be. Honesty will help win your clients’ respect – and their repeat business and referrals.
6: Recognize That Clients Differ
Even if you have clients engaged in the same industry (for example, accounting or retail), they won’t have the same needs and will not be facing the same issues. Their staff needs will differ, too. If they have similarities, they will still want to be treated as individuals. This is not a one-size-fits-all business. Clients expect solutions you discuss with them are tailored to their businesses and their employees.
You may find it useful to read our prior blog post, 7 Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Clients.
7: Stay Up to Date
The insurance and benefits marketplace is constantly evolving. Carriers are merging, updating their product portfolios, and offering more value-adds than ever before. Tech is changing, too – including improved quoting platforms, enrollment tools, and HR management resources for you and your clients. Regulators – at both the state and federal levels – are implementing new rules and regulations that affect brokers, employers, and enrollees.
Staying on top of it all is important to proving your value and expertise. Your clients chose you because they were looking for an authority on health insurance and benefits. They expect you to be aware of what’s new, what is changing, and how it could impact them, their businesses, and their employees.
Word & Brown offers brokers a combination of resources to stay current on changing legislation, carrier underwriting, product updates, technology, and more. Talk with your Word & Brown rep about the products, services, and support that we offer. That includes unparalleled value-adds like employee onboarding, ACA compliance, COBRA administration (for groups of 20+), a Premium Only Plan (POP), online and in-person training, an in-house compliance team, and much more.
If you’re not already doing business with Word & Brown, it’s easy to get started using our online registration form.