Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in how you run your business, and you forget why you run your business. No matter how much you know about insurance, if you don’t understand your customers, your agency isn’t going to thrive. After all, our customers are the reason we have agencies to begin with. We have to put their needs and wants first. Always.
So, think about what it’s like for a customer to do business with you. Is it a good experience? Could you make it better? As agency principals, we need to make doing business with us so easy that our customers would never go anywhere else.
Here are a few basic things you can do to ensure retention:
Answer the phone.
Is there anything more frustrating than calling to talk to a person and having to leave a voicemail instead? Or trying to navigate an automated answering system – punching number after number on your keypad looking for a live voice, but getting only recordings. In my agency, we have someone there to answer the phone. That human interaction is important to our customers, and we provide it every single time.
Have a greeter.
When someone walks into your agency, they should be greeted by a live person. In my agency, if our office hours are 8am to 5pm, we make sure someone is there before 8 and after 5. And we don’t close down for lunch like many companies do. I think this is ludicrous! Our customers are working folks with jobs of their own. When do they have time to drop off a payment of meet with their insurance agent? Before 8am, after 5pm, or on their lunch break. We want to be there for them.
This is something that is overlooked by many companies. How convenient is it to do business with you? If it is difficult or frustrating to interact with your office, customers won’t want to do it. And chances are they will go somewhere else. In my agency, we aim to provide ease in everything we do. We make sure our office is visible from the street so people don’t have trouble finding us. We offer plenty of parking with close access to the office. We have comfortable chairs in the lobby, receptionists with positive, enthusiastic personalities, a pleasant waiting area, and both hot and cold beverages available. In addition, we prioritize convenience by offering many ways to make payments, personal attention for all customers and a 24/7 hotline in case of emergencies.
Don’t make them wait.
Making a customer wait is a recipe for disaster. They are spending their hard-earned money with you, and should never have to wait in order to see you. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I never make customers wait. And if someone does have to wait for an appointment with me, I make sure they are taken care of by someone else until I am free.
Be the expert.
Customers want their questions to be answered quickly and easily. That means you must offer expertise at every level. We arm everyone from the principals to the receptionist to the interns with enough knowledge to be able to answer many of our customers’ questions. And when a question can’t be answered, we have a back-up plan. Each employee has a go-to person who can give them the answer.
Your customers are valuable. These are just a few things that you can do every day to make sure that they feel valued. Make it easy to do business with your agency, and you will have a much easier time with retention. (An added bonus: taking good care of your customers feels good for you and your staff, too.)