How insurance agents can build and maintain great client relationships

When it comes to building a successful independent insurance agency, the formula is simple. All you need to do is maintain high levels of both client retention and new business. But if you’re a practicing insurance agent, you know this is easier said than done.  

You also know that your clients are the source of your insurance agency’s revenue, and lasting client relationships are vital to your long-term success. So how do some agencies build a steady client base and retain nearly all their clients each year, while others struggle to do the same?  Luckily, building strong client relationships isn’t rocket science. Sometimes, it just takes knowing the right things to do to build and maintain these relationships to help your agency bring in more new business and keep client retention high.

Why is building client relationships important?

There are multiple reasons why having strong relationships with your clients is vital to your success, and they all boil down to one simple fact. Establishing better relationships with your clients means selling more insurance. Certainly, you’re in the insurance business because you care about people and helping them protect their assets. But we also know you want to be financially successful so you can provide for your family and maybe even support staff members and their families, too. 

Whether you sell personal insurance or commercial lines, and particularly if you sell small business insurance, clients who feel they can trust you will continue to seek your advice and use your services. That’s the goal: become not just a seller of insurance but a valued business partner.

Unfortunately, the average insurance agency has a customer retention rate of about 84 percent That means in order to grow, agents need to bring in over 16 percent in new business each year. That’s a lot of pressure to put on new business! It costs more money to earn new clients than to retain existing ones. So, improving your retention rate is a high-value target for insurance agencies and agents, and strong relationships impact that retention rate. 

How do you begin establishing better client relationships? There’s no magic formula to follow, but there are a few things you can do to help build trust and create lasting client relationships.

Build great client relationships by communicating often

As with any relationship, you’ll find when it comes to building trust with your clients, timely and efficient communication is a must. Not only does it help you learn more about your clients and their unique business challenges and insurance needs, but it also shows them you’re committed to providing individualized services. Make sure to check in regularly with your clients, even when everything seems to be going well. It’s always better to reach out and hear nothing back than to not reach out and hear later that your client could have used your help or advice. 

Also, remember that insurance needs can change with all sorts of life events. When you keep in regular communication with your clients, you’ll be more likely to know about changes that could impact their insurance needs. On a business level, everything from hiring an employee to buying office space, equipment, or vehicles, can mean your clients’ needs have changed. One of the best things you can do to build trust is to let them know you’re looking out for these things before they even think to ask.

Build client relationships by setting realistic expectations

Promising more than you can offer is a surefire way to break your clients’ trust and send them on the search for a new insurance agent as soon as possible. This is equally true for what you can offer as an independent agent as it is for what the policies you sell can offer. This goes hand-in-hand with clear communication, but even more specifically, make sure you are realistic about things like:

  • How quickly your clients can expect a response from you
  • The hours you work, including any nights or weekends
  • What their insurance policies actually cover, so there’s no confusion

One way to ensure you’re keeping expectations in check is to take some time at the end of each meeting to recap and make sure your client is clear on what is and isn’t included in the policies you’ve recommended, as well as what they can expect from you in the next day, week, or month.

Build client relationships by keeping your promises

Now that you’ve set clear expectations, it’s vital to follow through on them.

Nobody likes a broken promise. If you’re going to make a commitment or promise to a client, make sure you can follow through. Whether it’s large or small, simply doing what you said you would do is key to building a trusting relationship. Everyone understands that unexpected things come up. If something changes, be clear with your client and communicate the changes as soon as possible. Make a new plan and continue keeping your client updated as things progress.

Own your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you respond to them that matters to your clients. Admitting you’ve made a mistake is never easy. You may feel like it will break the trust you have with your clients, but in reality, owning up to your mistakes and taking the necessary steps to remedy the issue can actually be positive. Clients value honesty and transparency in their insurance agent. Owning your mistakes will show them you are more focused on being honest than appearing perfect.

Stay in touch, but remain professional

Unlike some professions that prohibit the crossover between a personal and professional relationship, being an insurance agent often means you’re an active member of the same communities as your clients.

To build and maintain a strong relationship with a client, you might want to get to know a little more about who they are outside of the work you’re doing for them. It’s okay to talk to clients about non-work-related topics, as long as you remain professional. Seeking opportunities to support them may improve your client relationships. Some insurance agents like to sponsor community events that are important to their clients or be active in local nonprofit organizations.

Your gestures don’t have to be grand either. You can develop great client relationships by making small efforts, like sending out a personalized happy birthday message or asking about a kid or pet. The bottom line is that treating people like people helps create relationships that benefit you personally and professionally.

Your clients are important to you, so make sure they know it

What’s an insurance agency without its clients? Regardless of how good you think you already are at building great client relationships, it never hurts to put a little extra focus on each of these areas.  

After all, building and maintaining strong client relationships is the best way to ensure your agency will still be successful years into the future. Insurance can be a very personal topic, often dealing with issues of life and death, and other difficult situations a person or business can be in. That’s why people want to deal with insurance agents they can truly trust and rely on. By standing out from the crowd with your client relationships, you can be that person for your clients.

Thanks for reading our educational resource! Any above reference to a specific company, method, or product is meant for educational purposes only and is not specifically endorsed by Pie.