from Insureon Solutions
There’s a lot of competition out there for small business clients. Investing in a good website, providing the best coverage at competitive prices, and implementing a strong marketing strategy are all factors that attract customers.
But the secret to keeping your current clients is surprisingly old school: excellent customer service. Customers want to know that they're spending their money with an agent who exceeds expectations and treats them with kindness and respect.
Why Customer Service Matters for Independent Insurance Agents
Whether a company is big or small, customer service plays a critical role in consumers’ decision making. According to the 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer report, providing "excellent customer service" is the second most important factor consumers consider when choosing a company to do business with. The report also says…
• 95 percent of consumers talk about their negative customer experiences.
• 42 percent say a positive word-of-mouth referral is most likely to get them to try a business.
• 60 percent say they decided not to use a business after a poor service experience.
• 74 percent say they have spent more with a business because of a history of positive experiences.
If you’re just starting an agency, it can be hard to gain new clients' trust.
Customer Service 101 for Independent Insurance Agents
Good customer service starts with hiring people who are suited to the position. Typically, that means looking for someone who is…
• A good communicator.
You also want to make sure you have a program in place that helps your employees provide excellent service. For instance, you may want to:
• Consider your customer service practices from the client's point of view.
• Create action steps for handling an unhappy client.
• Establish time estimates for resolving problems.
A good plan is essential for resolving issues, but you also want to minimize them from happening in the first place.
Digital Customer Service Strategies for Independent Insurance Agents
According to the report, more people are looking for customer service through their social media accounts. This means independent agents may need to pay attention to their digital customer service strategy, too. Try these digitally savvy customer service tips:
- Ask what channel they prefer for service. Finding out this information upfront makes it easier to meet their expectations.
- Address negative feedback. No one likes mean comments, but it happens sometimes. Try not to take them personally. Instead, respond with courtesy and send helpful links. You might also want to ask a disgruntled client to send more information via direct message.
- Avoid stale responses. Getting back to an unsatisfied client quickly is important, but using boilerplate responses usually turns people off. You may see more loyalty by putting some effort into a personalized response.
Simplify referrals. Add a “Refer a Friend” button on your website and gently remind clients to tell their friends about your services.
The bottom line is customers expect positive customer service experiences across communication channels. Make sure your independent insurance agency is prepared.