By Alex Moral
Automotive. Retail. Hospitality. These are all industries where service is key, and for good reason. With heavy competition in these industries, service is often one of the best ways to truly set your business apart.
The modern-day insurance broker is no different.
If you think about it, the role of today’s insurance broker is much more consultative than it has been. As more players have flooded the market and expectations around technology and administration have increased, actively listening and providing thoughtful guidance to clients has become critical.
Successful consultants will tell you, a big part of their success hinges on the level of service they provide. Exceptional service can be the difference between missing your goals for the year and becoming a trusted advisor to your clients.
But how you do you stand out as a service leader in the insurance industry? I believe there are four key ways you can deliver outstanding service as a means of enhancing and growing your relationships with your clients while building a profitable business.
- The power of personal connections
Start by nurturing personal connections with your clients. It might seem basic, but this crucial step can help you establish long-term, trusted relationships. I’ve seen many instances where my colleagues work with multiple generations. Those relationships began as business relationships and, over time, evolved into friendships.
Building these personal connections starts with showing a genuine interest in your clients. Make it a point to learn about their lives outside of work – their families and outside interests. My rule of thumb and suggestion: Start every meeting by asking the client about one item that’s not work-related (family, hobbies, sports, etc.).
You might be surprised at how consistently asking that one question at the beginning of every meeting can break down barriers and build long-lasting trust with your clients.
- Persistence, persistence, persistence
I typically emphasize the power of persistence. What does that mean? Consider your clients’ work lives. They’re usually in back-to-back meetings all day, traveling for work and facing a long list of demands and deadlines. As a result, they likely will be hard to pin down. But, just because your clients are busy doesn’t mean you should let service slip. It’s important to be persistent with your clients.
Case in point: You have a client who rarely reaches out, but is one of your larger accounts. You need to keep them happy. Make a point to check in with the client regularly, even if it’s just a quick touch-base phone call once a week for five minutes. Or, maybe you have a client who never seems to have enough time, running from meeting to meeting.
Make sure you’re setting strict agendas for your meetings and be intentional about how you use your client’s time. Persistence is a soft skill that’s not often discussed, but can establish you as a service leader.
- Always be responsive
This is something I’ve prided myself on over the course of my career. For me, the key has been setting a consistent expectation and adhering to it. For example, do you want to respond to client questions and requests within a couple of hours? Or is 24 hours more reasonable? Or end of the day? There’s no right or wrong answer here — the key is establishing the fact that you will respond within a defined period of time.
In some situations, you won’t have an immediate solution to your client’s request. But, in my experience, that client wants to hear from you and wants to know you’re working on it. Responsiveness matters.
- Listening with intent
I’ve always thought this is one of the most underrated skills in business. Much like the skills and concepts mentioned previously, it’s not the most glamorous, but it can be impactful. Over the years, I’ve noticed many people “hear” what clients are saying in meetings, but very few are “listening.”
Without a doubt, fewer are listening with intent. Want to establish yourself as a true service leader in the insurance industry? Start listening with intent. You’ll most likely find your direction to be much more well-received and effective.
An insurance broker who is focused on service is an advocate for their client. Brokers are always one step ahead of clients and their questions. They will consistently go above and beyond what’s expected. By embracing the qualities, skills and ideas outlined here, you will experience sustained success.
Service is important — in fact, it’s crucial in the increasingly competitive insurance market. If you thoughtfully and strategically embrace responsiveness, persistence, forming personal connections and listening with intent, you too can become a service leader in our industry.
Alex Moral is the senior vice president of Trustmark Voluntary Benefits. Alex may be contacted at [email protected].
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