Every day we as insurance agents are presented with new opportunities to reach customers.
Too many probably.
We are looking to technology to help us get things done faster. And, I’ll admit, some of what we do and ultimately how we are evaluated is based on the speed of our response and solution.
But, the ultimate measuring stick is how our insurance customers feel about us because, so often, we are an integral part of what are usually negative situations in customers’ lives.
One of my customers told me a story that really hit home, and was the impetus for this article. He moved his family to St. Louis in 1983 and moved his home and auto insurance to a very large company we all know (let’s call it Company A).
Over those 34 years he was generally happy with the service, particularly when he had issues. In his words, the “home office was great when I had needs, such as a car accident.”
Last year about this time an unexpected confluence of events occurred that put him in front of a competitor of his insurance company, Company B. After several calls and meetings, he decided to move his business to Company B. It wasn’t an easy decision. He describes himself as loyal and felt a bit like he was being unfair to Company A.
Then he told me this: other than when the agent hounded him in 1983 and finally got his business, he never spoke with or saw the agent again. The agent also happened to be the owner and is to this day.
We’re talking about a guy whose office wasn’t five states away… it was barely a mile from my customer’s home.
It gets better.
When he didn’t make his monthly payment after making the switch to company B, there was no call from the original agent or anyone at his office. When the policy lapsed 30 days later, there was no call from the agent or anyone at his office. To this day, a year later, there have been no calls.
34 years and not a peep.
Yes, we’re in a funny business, but by just about any industry measure, it’s a business seen as not customer friendly.
However, as you try to get the new year off with a bang, there are three things you can do to make customers feel valued along their journey to what is inevitably bad news.
- Give customers a voice. There are few things people respond more positively to than “I need your help.” In this case, you need their help to tell you how you’re doing. I’m not talking about a research project. Pick 10 or so customers each month—more if you can do it—and call to find out what’s going on in their lives. Also, do this with every new customer. There’s a reason they switched agencies… you should know it.
- Surprise them with old fashioned love. In a world of electronic overload, what delights most customers is to get a hand-written note. Further, the best approach we’ve found is to send notes when customers least expect it. It could be a simple thank-you for their business, or it could be a note telling them about something new your company is doing. Maybe you tell them about something important that’s happened in your life. And, there’s nothing wrong with a note on their birthday.
- Be personal. No customer expects you to know everything about them, but they will appreciate and remember any effort you make. Use their name when you speak with them. Ask about their family and their job. It seems so simple, but so few of us take the time to do it.
Bottom line: create a customer experience that will keep them as customers for life.
Something we say around our business is “nothing has changed.” While technology is turning our personal and professional lives in many new directions, what still works after all these centuries is taking an interest in people.