7 Tips to Winning Lifetime Customers
One of the major issues that insurance agents face as they go about their day-to-day, is keeping customers. Winning a customer can be challenging in itself depending on where you source leads, but the real work can often be in convincing your hard-won clientele to stay.
The Internet has opened many doors for the insurance direct market.
Customers operate under the assumption there is always a cheaper price out there, and oftentimes they’re not wrong. That’s why so many continue to test the waters. However, agents continue to prove their value with the vast majority of final purchases still being brokered through an agency rather than online.
And that number is falling, according to a May 2014 report from . The industry news site estimates that from 2013 to 2014, only 15 percent of the “credit-active population shopped for new auto insurance policies in the 12 months ending Feb 2014,” a figure that was “down from 15.4 percent for the 12 months ending Feb 2013.”
That leaves around 85 percent of just auto insurance shoppers, who would rather be buying through traditional means. Translation: as the main point of sale, you still have an incredible amount of power to build loyalty among your customers. Here are 7 tips you can follow to do just that.
1. Be willing
Your willingness to step up and take command of a client’s insurance needs is perhaps the most important thing that you can do to keep him around for years to come.
This sometimes means that you will have to stay after a customer in order to update his policies and coverages.
People who buy insurance policies tend to want to purchase and forget as if life insurance or homeowners insurance are investments of some type; but you cannot let your clients think this way or else they could end up with serious gaps in coverage.
Example: say a homeowners insurance customer has $15,000 of coverage on interior contents, but 3 years later, he owns $25,000 worth of stuff. Disaster strikes, and he’s left needing to replace $10,000 worth of personal possessions for which he isn’t insured. Even though it may have been his responsibility to update those coverages, he could end up blaming you if you didn’t put out the effort to sit down with him for those annual policy reviews.
We don’t want to use the term “brow-beating” here, but we will say that sometimes a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty is what it takes to keep customers with you for the long haul.
One of the easiest ways to make money is to learn something few others know and teach that knowledge to anyone willing to listen. For insurance agents looking to build lifelong, loyal customers, this principle holds true.
And since insurance customers are well aware of the value in what you’re selling (or else they wouldn’t be shopping for it in the first place), distinguishing yourself from the competition is a great way to earn trust.
Consider running a free seminar on some topic of interest to insurance customers. Establish your authority with insurance leads through the act of teaching them something they didn’t know, and they will always feel good about doing business with you — both at the point of sale and 10 or 20 years down the road.
Insurance is not a product the people buying it wish to take lightly. They want to do business with someone, who will take care of their needs. Teaching them what they don’t know about insurance will impress upon them that you are the right person for that job.
3. Show your worth
The act of empowering your customers with knowledge — see above — will reinforce to them how valuable you are. Still, it doesn’t hurt to sit down with them every once in a while and talk about specifics.
Many agents are able to save their clients money while offering more protection through the act of bundling policies under one brand — life, auto, homeowners, etc. Showing your clients a side-by-side comparison of what they would pay for these policies separately and what they would pay for them if they went with your company, is an effective way of showing the value you bring to the table.
4. Sweat the small things
Does a client have a special milestone coming up — birthday, anniversary, or maybe even something more somber, like the death of a spouse or loved one? Sending your customers a simple sign of thoughtfulness — a thank-you or thinking-of-you or Merry Christmas card — will leave an impression with your customers that they are not likely to forget come policy renewal time.
5. Understand where buyer resistance comes from, and how to deal with it
Buyer resistance has existed for as long as people have been purchasing goods and services from an outside source. As an insurance agent, you won’t be immune from it.
Some customers have legitimate reasons for not upping a coverage or buying a new policy at the present time. Rather than pushing the sale, you could be well-served respecting those reasons or at least understanding them while you are interacting with the client.
By putting yourself in the prospect or customer’s shoes and understanding the external forces that could be creating their buyer resistance, you will be in a great position to overcome it.
6. Take what you can get, when you can get it
Of course, one way of overcoming buyer resistance is to relax your efforts at doing so. The following is absolutely true when it comes to selling insurance: if you can get a customer to purchase one policy, you are already well ahead of the competition.
Expanding that logic, don’t fret if all you can sell them on currently is a renters or auto insurance policy. The customer may simply not have need of anything else at this juncture in their lives. Be patient. Do the best you can serving their needs on that one policy, and stay connected to them.
Offering great customer service may not help you sell a second or third policy now, but it will almost certainly open doors as the customer’s life prospects change.
7. Be present, and responsive
This tip is especially important for insurance agents, who have yet to establish themselves online and through social media. While customers continue to purchase auto/life/health/homeowners policies through agents, they often use the web as their portal for access.
That means agents with established social media accounts, websites, podcasts, and a commitment to local SEO have a better chance than those, who are still “getting around to it.”
Your online presence is important because it gets your name out there, and it also gives prospects more freedom to interact with you on their terms. So don’t just establish yourself; be responsive to questions, comments, and concerns.
Insurance agents, who embrace the customer service aspects of their job, are the ones likely to create lifelong customers. And lifelong customers mean greater profits, as evidenced in from Lynn Thomas, president of 21st Century Management Consulting, a firm that focuses on building customer loyalty and customer retention with a specialty in the insurance industry.
In it, Thomas writes that “sustained 5% improvement in your agency’s customer retention rate can double profits in five years.” That’s because customer acquisition rates are much higher on first policies. By employing the 7 tips above, you can make customer retention a major part of your sales strategy.