By Michael Furlong
Communication is central to an insurance agency. It’s a vital part of interacting with clients and underwriters, boosting productivity and improving company processes.
Communication serves a greater purpose, as well - creating client loyalty. In addition to keeping an organization running smoothly, communication can help build, maintain and increase client loyalty. There are a few ways insurance agents can improve their communication with clients, and as a result, improve their client relationships.
- Streamline communication
Emails, phone calls, direct mailings - there are a variety of ways to communicate with clients. While communication is key, it’s vital to understand the difference between effective communication and over-communication.
Dozens of emails to clients can convey that you’re on top of your business and understand their insurance needs, but it can be overwhelming, too. It’s important that your emails don’t become lost in the clients’ inbox because they are not pointed, clear and easy to execute.
If you haven’t already done so, consider streamlining communication by adopting a client portal that centralizes your client communication in one place. Clients can then work on their policies, sign agreements and communicate directly with agents on their own schedules in a clear, simplified way.
- Reduce administrative roadblocks
Once you’ve put a client portal and other digital solutions in place to streamline communications, it’s time to reduce other administrative roadblocks that hinder communication. Use technology - a client portal, electronic payments, electronic signatures - to build relationships.
Use technology to alleviate the hours spent during the data collection process of applying for or renewing a policy. Instead of spending precious time printing out and sending documents, making payment reminder calls, rekeying data and walking clients through the renewal process step by step, agents can use the gained time to focus on being an advisor and/or increasing client loyalty. By becoming a trusted figure who clients can turn to when they have questions or concerns, agencies can improve retention and grow their businesses.
- Give customers communication options
Some clients will love a customer portal - others may still prefer to work over fax, mail or email. Make it clear to customers that you are willing and able to communicate via their preferred method.
By offering customers multiple options for communication - whether online portals, live chat support or text messaging capabilities - you’ll be able to show your clients that you’re there for them on their terms. Some will prefer phone calls, while you may see others opting to receive updates via text. Clients will see and appreciate that.
- Make communication pleasant
Always think of the client experience first when developing a new communication plan. Ask yourself not only how to streamline communications, but also how to make those communications as pleasant as possible.
The truth is, most clients don’t communicate with their insurance provider unless they’re filing a claim, renewing a policy, or making a payment. The latter is a part of any business practice, but the former can be stressful, whether filing a claim due to a weather event, damage or a personal claim. When it comes time to get in touch with their agent, clients want to have a pleasant experience during a troublesome time.
Focus on client experience on your website through user design, welcome customers to call you, and make sure your phone’s automated menu is user-friendly when a client has to make a call.
When it comes time for renewals, you don’t want clients to dread or delay getting in touch. Make communication as pleasant as possible to keep your client base intact.
- Stay organized
Clients don’t need to see the behind-the-scenes work to improving their communication, but it’s important that it’s there. Work within your company to streamline internal communications and administrative tasks. You may find that by focusing on internal communications, your new approach will spill over into client communications, and vice versa.
On the flipside, if your agency struggles with internal communications, clients may be able to tell. Do phone calls go unanswered? Does paperwork pile up? How long does it take to complete a renewal process? Clients notice these things, and they are not a welcome sight.
Instead, stay organized on your end so when it’s time for clients to get in touch, sign documents or enter an online portal, it feels as seamless as possible.
When you work to improve client communications, your agency operates more smoothly. And when operations require less effort on the client side, your customer base is more likely to stay loyal.
By streamlining communications using technology, reducing administrative roadblocks and taking an overall client-first approach, agents can turn their attention to building client relationships and maintaining a loyal customer base.
Mike Furlong is the CEO of Indio Technologies. Mike may be contacted at [email protected].
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