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Retain Customers and Grow Your Book

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Retaining your clients is one of the most important aspects of your agency’s operation. It takes hard work  to bring new clients to your agency, whether that be through online or offline efforts, so it is critical that you work to keep them more than satisfied once they become your insureds.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, many agency owners focus much more on the sale and not enough on the retention when it comes to their clients.  In order to maintain clients and have them to continue to come back and bring friends and family via referrals, savvy agency owners put in the effort to ensure that their retention strategies are as focused and measurable as their sales strategies. 

Fun Fact: 
Many studies have shown that $1 paid towards customer retention increases profits by more than $5 spent on new customer acquisition.

It is important to think of client retention as a sales strategy.  If your insureds like you and the way you do business, they are going to send more business your way. Here are some ideas to consider to ensure that your insured retention rates remains high:

1.       Consider setting up a “Retention” Department. This group would be in charge of insuring that all agency outreach is consistent and that every employee is held accountable for delivering an exceptional experience during every client contact.  They should be creative and set up policies and procedures that ensure everyone is responsible for client retention.   Reward success with small financial incentives if retention rates remain high!

2.      Institute a mandatory annual review of every insured. It can be a 5-minute “hey, what’s new”  phone call or an in-depth “live” meeting. These reviews convey your interest in your insureds and provides you with the opportunity show why working with your agency is providing them with expert advice and insurance knowledge to make them feel comfortable and secure with their insurance purchases.

3.      During those annual reviews, create a plan to cross-sell other insurance products. Be able to point out the need for these products and how they will benefit their insurance portfolio. Remember, the more policies the insured has with your agency, the more likely they will be to stay!

4.      If you know that a price increase is coming, get in front of it with your insureds. Give them a call and provide them with all the information that you have about the increase and how it may impact their premiums going forward.  Provide them options that might help offset the increase and be able to explain the impact they their own actions may have had on the increase.  They will respect your honesty and continue to value your advice in the future.  Remember, an unexpected and unexplained premium is one of the biggest incentives for an insured to shop around for new coverage!

5.      Make insureds feel like family! Send a birthday card, an anniversary card, a small gift for a new baby, or some flowers for a job promotion.  If they feel like they are important to you and your agency, they will be much more likely to stay.

6.      Know that your clients might need your help to have a positive claims experience. Proactively provide guidance on summiting a claim to the carrier and provide information on what to expect during the claims process.  Consider providing all clients with claims communication plan, which would provide them with a personal acknowledgement of the claim via a call, note or e-mail, with your contact information in the event of any issue, and provide them with a quick survey after the claim to ensure that everything was handled to their satisfaction.


Social Media and Its Impact on Client Retention

Social media is all about relationship building, so shouldn’t your existing customers be the best group to start your outreach with? People who have chosen to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your agency tend to do so because they value the information you bring, or respect your thoughts on certain topics. These people can be your most loyal customers and elevate your brand awareness in the social sphere.  They want to hear about your services and product, so it's important to use these channels regularly to make sure you’re connecting with followers on a regular basis, ensuring they will reach out to you when they have a coverage question or need. 

Social media has shifted power to the consumer and there are now new roles for buyer vs. seller. Even before your first meeting, many customers will have done reference checks and reviewed your agency’s reputation online on social media sites.  Social media provides an opportunity for agencies to speak directly with their existing customers and reach new prospects. Responding to questions, concerns and other feedback will help boost your agency’s reputation.  If your agency is using social media, how do you measure whether social media is affecting your ability to keep customersConsider that while social media measurement is a fairly new, your non-social customers can help you establish a control group so that you can compare how social media is affecting both client retention and agency growth.

1.      Compare the retention rate of customers who came to your agency via social media channels versus those who didn’t, whether it is through your customer service efforts and separately for any leads that have been generated.  Each renewal is worth a certain amount of revenue to your agency.   Assign an average dollar value to customers and compare the value of a social media customer versus a non-social media customer based on retention rates.

2.      Do the customers interacting with your agency on social media tend to also call your agency for help?  Generally, it costs significantly less to service a customer online.     For the next month, keep a record of the number of customer interactions via phone vs online and the time spent on each interaction and calculate the cost of each interaction.  You may be able to provide the client with the level of service they want at a cost savings to your agency!

3.      Social media may allow you to turn complaints into opportunities.   These would be customers who had an interaction with your agency that is leading toward a cancellation, but the customer either comes back or doesn’t cancel as a result of social media interaction. These customers are worth money to your agency and you will want to measure their value, as well as learn from the experience.

4.      Are your social media followers more or less likely to buy more coverage?  If they are following your agency online, reading your agency blogs that provide information about innovative insurance products, learning more about how to better protect their assets, it is likely that you will see more opportunities to cross-sell.  Set up a system to calculate how much revenue was generated from cross-sells directly from social media compared to non-social media customers to establish a firm return on your investment.



Social Media Concepts to Gain and Retain Customers


Social Media is integral to purchase decisions
:

Types of online sources visited for company, brand or product info:

  • 70% social media sites
  • 68% company websites
  • 57% online news
  • 49% review sites
  • 44% Wikipedia

Source: Market Definitive Guide to BtoB Social Media

  • 83% of B2B or Professional Services buyers’ research online before making a purchase decision 
Source: trovus.co.uk

  • More than half of Facebook fans say social media influences their buying decisions and 67% of Twitter followers report the same.
 
 Source: iModerate
 
 

Of adults under 35 more than half (52%) visit more than two websites before visiting a local business.

  • 63% head to Google
  • 24% visit Facebook
  • 21% look to site reviews
     

Source: marketingmatters.dexone.com, Daniel Kehrer (2/3/12)

 Social Me​dia is effective:
  • Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors than those without,
  • 2/3 of marketers surveyed say their company blog is critical or important,
  • B to B companies that blog get 67% more leads,
  • Companies that use Twitter average two times more leads per month than those that don’t,
  • 79% of US Twitter users are more likely to recommend a brand they follow.

Source: Hubspot

Your competitors are already online:

Across all US agency sizes,

  • Facebook pages have an average of just over 200 Likes
  • The average Twitter account has 440 followers
  • Respondents in the $2.5MM-$5MM and $5MM-$10MM revenue ranges are the most active in social media 

Source: BH Burke & Co., Inc., 2012

 

How To Engage Users Online
 
  • Own a topic. Be the expert.  Even when someone isn’t ready for a sale, positioning yourself as an expert plants seeds of opportunity. Fact is that 85% of all commercial accounts stay put every year.  However, if you’re top of mind as an expert, you’re poised to claim a sale when the account might be ready for a switch. 
 
Source: Rough Notes, Producer Self-Management article by John Love, 8/2011 
  • Avoid heavy sales messaging. Instead, tell the topic story from the customer’s viewpoint.
  • Don’t be a know-it-all. Own a few true specialties.
  • Be creative with your message delivery.  Fifty-five percent of respondents said they would be more likely to consume white papers and analyst reports if they were delivered as podcasts.”

     
    Source: Podcasts Penetrate B2B Mainstream, MarketingVOX

  • Encourage conversation. 
  • Reply promptly to customer comments. Follow up more directly if necessary.
  • Make comments on other appropriate sites as well. The more impressions you leave online, the larger your footprint and the better your search engine results will become.
  • Be genuine. Phony, canned responses that sound like a corporate speech track will do more harm than silence.  In social media, it’s ok to sound approachable, human and…social.
 

It goes beyond social media.  Customers expect today’s businesses to be technologically saavy.

 

People regularly use online reservation tools, purchase from online retailers and want the 24/7 flexibility only available through technology. 

  • Utilize survey tools such as Survey Monkey or Zoomerang to elicit regular feedback from both potential and current customers. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask “How are we doing? Asking won’t change the reality.  But not asking might mask a potential problem and lead to the loss of an account.
  • Ask specific, pointed questions and make the survey itself as short as possible. 
  • No more than four surveys a year.
  • Screen your invite list to ensure you are asking only relevant respondents for feedback.
 

Automate and create as much 24/7 online access for the client as possible.

  • Technology has bred impatience.  Customers want to have their answers on their own schedule.
  • Investigate opportunities for secure self-service portals and online customer service centers.  But remember even with automation, technology cannot replace a real person. Provide easy access to a live customer service rep. 
  • Redirect time savings created by technology back to client retention and new business.  Be very conscious of this available opportunity and attack it with measured planning.

 

 
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RELATED RESOURCES

 
- Big "I" Virtual University Article
Clients for Life: Customer Retention​


 
 
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