In this Opinion piece we look at the Top 5 Client Retention Strategies for a Successful Close to 2021, for you all insurance sales and marketing peeps out there.
By: Tara Kelly, CEO and founder, SPLICE Software
Being an insurance agent is all about helping people get the peace of mind and financial security they need. You’re there when your customers need you most — in good times and in bad. In that sense, your relationship with clients is like other important relationships, where effective communication builds trust and keeps the connection strong. But the end of the year is a popular time for customers to shop around, and with an uncertain economic outlook and higher price sensitivity upon us, some agents will be ghosted.
The past 18 months have set the bar high and customers’ insurance needs and communication habits are different than they were a year and a half ago. They expect personalized service and are looking to you to reach out to provide the security and calm they need during uncertain times. Now is a good time to remember why you got in the insurance business in the first place — and that you’ve got this. With these five retention tips, you can ensure a strong close to 2021.
- Assume something has changed in your customers’ lives. Now is the worst possible time for a “set-it-and-forget-it” attitude. The pandemic has affected virtually everyone in some way, and people’s lives have changed drastically. Many office workers are telecommuting and driving less, while other people have changed jobs and are driving more. Some people moved to different locations and homes while others bought campers for socially-distanced vacations. The point is, their insurance needs may have changed significantly, and that’s an opportunity for you to reach out.
- Make sure at least 60% of your customers have opted-in for text messages. The statistics on text/SMS are mind-blowing. Marketing text open rates can be as high 98%, and 82% of people open every single text they receive. More than 80% would like to receive appointment reminders via text. Another point to keep in mind: about one in four smartphone users are mobile only — their phones are their sole connection to the internet, so if you want to reach them, that’s where they are. Because of this, your opt-in rate for text messages should be at 60% or more. If it isn’t, now’s the time to fix it.
- Focus on text, but don’t forget your other communication channels. Many people communicate primarily via text, but email and phone calls still matter. Now is a good time to make sure you’ve got the right email addresses and phone numbers for your clients — and permission to contact your customers to start or continue a conversation. Voice-first smart home devices are also a great way to automate communication capabilities so you can deliver personalized, up-to-date account information to customers by using the customer data you already have on hand.
- Map out customer journeys. Because so much has changed, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities are out there, but it’s important to be thoughtful about how you engage customers by making sure you talk to them at the appropriate point on their customer journey. It’s best to avoid starting too many conversations at once so you don’t get overwhelmed by the volume. It’s also critical to reach out at the right time to move customers through the funnel. Make sure you have the systems and support you need to get this right. Technology can help you manage the volume more efficiently and serve customers more effectively.
- Keep it real. Today’s customers want to do business with brands that share their values. They’re opening their wallets with their hearts and minds, so being authentic and keeping it real when expressing your values as an agency is crucial. Make sure everyone affiliated with your business understands your agency’s DNA and speaks your organization’s values authentically when interacting with clients.
The next year is going to remind you of why you opened an insurance agency. Sure, there will be challenges, including client retention, with so many aggregators on the market and high levels of price sensitivity across the customer base. Expectations have shifted during the pandemic, and people demand a level of access to information and personalization that can be difficult to meet.
That said, you have all the professional skills you need to keep your current customers on board, happy and grow your agency in the year ahead. With the right systems and support, you can leverage data and automate many communication processes, which will free you up to focus on growing your book of business and serving your customers when they need you most.
Remember that you got into this business to help people with the important milestones — you provide protections that deliver peace of mind and security to handle life’s ups and downs. If you meet customers where they are, take time to understand how their needs have changed, and communicate frequently and authentically, you can close out 2021 successfully and be ready to roll in 2022.
Tara Kelly is the President, CEO and founder of SPLICE Software, with offices in Calgary, Alberta and Chicago, Illinois. SPLICE Software serves insurance companies, retailers and other enterprise companies through intuitive communication software services that enhance customer experience and enable better operations delivery. Learn more about SPLICE’s solutions here.