According to “Are You Being Served?,” an article in The New Yorker, 80 percent of companies surveyed said they deliver “superior” service. But consumers put that figure at just 8 percent. That’s quite the discrepancy.
The article concludes:
“The real problem may be that companies have a roving eye: they’re always more interested in the customers they don’t have … they end up devoting all their energies to courting us, promising wonderful products and excellent service. Then, once they’ve got us, their attention wanders.”
Does this happen to your new customers? Certainly not intentionally. But without specific plans to support new client “on-ramping,” it could. After all, it’s easy during the set-up of a new account to lose sight of the client—the actual person or people behind the account. The processes of your firm are second nature to you. They are unfamiliar to your new clients. Don’t leave them in the dark. They hate the dark.
And, you only get one chance to make a first impression, right? That’s why a well-planned customer service approach is so important. It can change the initial — and the lasting — impression a customer has of your agency.
Some ideas to consider:
1. Know the obvious.
Don’t show up at your first meeting and ask the things you should already know about their company. Do your research and impress with the head start you’ve established.
2. Provide contact information.
Not just for you, but for everyone who might touch the account. Be clear on areas of responsibility and provide multiple points of contact — e-mail, phone, social media links. Include photos when possible. It’s nice to have a face connected to the name.
a. Be sure to ask in the beginning what kind of communication
contact each client prefers. Some appreciate phone calls, other
want e-mail. Still others want to be poked in social media.
3. Pre-empt FAQ.
You know the most common issues or concerns new clients have. Give them the answers before they need them. They may be too embarrassed or initially overwhelmed to even ask.
4. Check in frequently.
Do so more often than you might with an established client. But again, check the clients’ preferences, too. Even a quick, informal follow-up at the end of each week —“Everything OK? Just checking in to make sure everything we did this week makes sense.”
5. Explain next steps.
Clients appreciate knowing what happens next. Be sure to let them know expected timelines as well.
If you were new to the account, what might you be wondering about? Addressing potential issues before they arise positions you as the expert.
7. Establish methods for formal and informal feedback.
Let clients know you welcome their input.
Always and promptly. Even if you don’t have a solution yet, let them know you are working on it.
9. Deliver as promised.
If possible, over-deliver — ahead of time and under budget. But if you hit a snag, don’t wait until you’ve blown a deadline to let the client know of any issues. People understand when issues arise, but they don’t want to be taken by surprise.
10. Get personal.
At the same time you’re getting to know the business, get to know the person.
11. Become a resource.
Forward articles, research or other information you find that could help clients with their jobs, even when not directly related to the insurance services you provide. It’s simple to forward the link and become a reliable resource. Valued partners become long-term partners.
It is so much easier to be nice, to be
respectful, to put yourself in your customers' shoes and try to understand how you might
help them before they ask for help, than it is to try to mend
a broken customer relationship. - Mark Cuban
Looking for More? 5 Simple Things That Can Make a Difference!
New clients want to be appreciated, especially when making hard choices about their insurance and how to choose the best agent for their needs. Regularly communicating that you care about your customers reinforces their choice of your agency and lets them know that you don’t just see them as income, but value them as them an important part of your agency’s success!
These five actions will show customers you care long after the first sale is a wrap:
1. Share Your Insurance Knowledge
Give away helpful coverage advice in your e-mail newsletter, as well as on your social media pages. Provide information that will help them make better decisions about their coverage needs, and probe for what information will help them make the insurance buying process easier and more beneficial. Find out what they'd like to learn more about and give them what they want! When you can offer your customers, both old and new, something valuable for free, everyone wins!
2. Inquire, Listen, Communicate, Adapt
· Inquire Find out what your customers have on their mind, including things like satisfaction with their most recent sales or service experience with your employees. Solicit feedback using various method like e-mail communications, online surveys, comments directly on your website, after online inquires, and via notes sent in the mail Knowing what they want, like and value will help you keep their business.
· Listen to what customers and others have to say about your agency in survey responses, on social media, feedback forums and in general conversation. Good or bad, consider providing survey results, social media responses and answers to customer questions in your e-mail newsletter and other communications.
· Communicate with customers quickly when they contact your business, whether it's a complaint or a compliment. Let them know that you hear them and that you care. Quickly fix problems and never let a customer walk away feeling like they were not heard or that you minimized their issue.
· Adapt your agency operations based on customer feedback to better meet your client’s needs. Let them know that you heard them, valued their feedback and are creating the customer experience based on what they say they want.
3. Thank your customers!
· Freebies. A coupon can go a long way to adding value. Use e-mail or even snail-mail to offer coupons that say thank you and provide things like a cup of coffee, an ice cone, or a car wash!
· Branded Items. Offer an agency branded gift as part of a promotion. A calendar, a mug, or even a blanket will keep your agency on their minds and let them know you care about them!
· Knowledge. Offer a free insurance checklist, or maybe a disaster planner when a new customer comes signs up for your agency newsletter.
4. “Customer Care” Events
Invite all new customers to an event in your agency offices on a quarterly basis. You could present a free seminar on an insurance specific topic like adding a teen driver, have a guest speaker talk about an important issue that impacts insurance availability such as flood or earthquake, or simply offer a time to talk and enjoy refreshments. Use all your social media accounts and e-communications to get the word out and ask your new customers to bring friend and/or family member along.
5. Be active in the community and give back
Make sure your agency is involved in a local charity or community-serving non-profit, and encourage your fellow local businesses and commercial clients to participate, as well. Use your newsletter and social media to tell customers about the cause you support and ask them to become active and donate. Engage all your employees in the cause and ensure that they know the reason for your involvement so that they can communicate that to clients. Make sure that your marketing materials highlight your community involvement.
Don’t make your involvement a one-time event. Showing customers you care should be an ongoing effort.