Only a decade ago, insurance clients expected only to hear from their agents once or twice a year—when it was time to renew a policy or in response to a claim. Now, the rapid pace of life, coupled with 24/7 technology, means that your policyholders expect more personalized, efficient service. Here’s how to build a proactive communications plan that does it all.
Research shows that more than 90% of insurers worldwide don’t communicate with their clients even once a year. Here’s your chance to differentiate your agency from your competitors. In most cases, fostering personal relationships with policyholders is an uphill climb. Even just the term “policyholder” can make the relationship seem sterile and cold. And the insurance business typically isn’t seen as particularly personable.
First impressions matter
The famous saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and oftentimes that’s true. Your clients’ initial impressions of you and your agency during the business development and onboarding process set the tone for the lifecycle of that relationship. Those early interactions can make the difference between a loyal, long-term policyholder—and one who will shop around for better service.
As you know, keeping a customer is far cheaper than trying to replace one. Additionally, a policyholder who feels heard and understood is more likely to buy more products over the life of the policy. A well-planned communications program can help develop lasting connections with policyholders—which means a win-win for both parties.
Their way, right away
Your policyholders can order a ride share service, gluten-free pizza, custom-tailored pants, and even a car nearly instantaneously. They often expect the same level of responsive customer service from all business sectors. To ensure that your policyholders know that you stand ready to serve them, communicate with them frequently—at least quarterly. The first step is to learn how they want to be communicated to: phone, email, text, fax, paper, app. Ask each customer about their preferred communication methods.
Offer a personalized approach
Each message you send needs to be highly personalized for each customer. It’s tempting to copy and paste the same email to everyone, but go a step further and create templated messaging with fields throughout the message for personalization. Add in your customer’s first name, business name, location, industry where it makes logical sense to do so. Add a link to an article about the policyholder’s company or industry to show that you’re keeping tabs on their market. The good news is that technology like customer relationship management (CRM) systems or customer communications management (CCM) software makes it much easier to provide that level of personalization in a way that’s automated, timely, and effective.
Don’t “always be closing”
As an insurance agent, closing sales is the goal most days. However, when it comes to proactively communicating, experts recommend that 70% of your content should be directed toward serving the customer and building trust—and only 30% should be aimed at making a sale.
Reasons to reach out
Aim to provide consistent communications during each phase of the customer journey, including new business and underwriting, premium accounting, customer service, and claims. Federal and state regulatory compliance communications should also be part of your outreach plan.
Here are some topics that may warrant proactive communication to your policyholders:
- A hurricane or massive snowstorm is threatening your customer’s area
- Your policyholder’s neighborhood recently experienced a disease outbreak, flood, or spike in burglaries
- Your company recently made changes to its processes or business plans
- Seasonal messages with safety information
- National safety observances with workplace safety tips specific to your customer’s industry
As noted earlier, this kind of customized communication is easier through automation. Automation, enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning, allows even the busiest insurers to provide their clients with personalized, relevant communications.
A survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group found that businesses using CCM software experienced greater:
- Cross-selling and upselling revenue
- Customer lifetime value
- Return on marketing investments (ROMI)
- Improvement in average cost per customer contact
- Net promoter scores, a score that measures customer experience and predicts business growth
Proactive, personalized communications with your policyholders is a great way to fortify customer relationships, retain policyholders, and improve selling opportunities. The key is to develop a cycle of continuous interaction, then adjust and adapt as needed to strike the right balance between service-themed and sales-based communications.
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