How many times have we heard a woman receive a compliment on a piece of clothing she is wearing, and her response is, “Thanks! It has pockets!”?
A male teammate recently asked me why women are always pointing out the pockets in an outfit. This question led to a discussion about how the majority of women’s clothing doesn’t have pockets or has pockets that are so small that they are non-functional. Then we had a discussion on how important pockets are.
Not having pockets means that women are left scrambling to create a makeshift pocket out of another part of their clothing, such as the waistband of their pants, and hoping that nothing falls out. Or they’re asking someone else to hold what they would’ve put in their pocket. Not having pockets isn’t just an inconvenience. In those instances where a woman asks someone else to hold their items - usually phone, ID, money, credit card, etc. - they then become reliant on that person not to lose the item and are then connected and unable to leave that person.
The teammate who asked me the question was shocked. His clothing always had pockets, usually lots of them, and he hadn’t ever thought about what it would mean for women not to have the same luxury of pockets in their clothing.
Insurance isn’t an industry where we can add pockets to our clients’ garments. But how many of our clients have a need that we don’t even know exists because we haven’t been faced with that need in our own lives?
Our life experiences shape us and our knowledge, but if you’ve always had a multitude of pockets, how would you know to think of a scenario in which someone wouldn’t have pockets? The answer lies in exactly what my teammate did. He asked why pockets were such a significant part of the conversation for women. We might not all have the same life experiences, but as we interact with our clients, we can ask them questions to learn more about their needs instead of making assumptions. We can identify what their “pockets” might be.
Identifying the need to look for issues can be tricky because, as the old saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Take the time to talk to your clients. And if you’re talking to clients who are a couple, make sure you are talking to both of them equally. The teammate who asked about the pockets is happily married and has multiple sisters, but it wasn’t until he asked the question to a woman that he understood her perspective.
Asking questions based on what the client is saying, rather than the typical questions every client gets asked, can help uncover additional needs that would have otherwise been missed. This doesn’t apply only to other unconsidered needs of female clients but also to any client from a different life experience. Clients from different religions, nationalities and those who identify as LGBTQ or are of another race may have needs and life experiences that can be addressed once uncovered.
Uncovering the “pocket” opportunities for clients allows the financial services industry to move away from the one-size-fits-most approach and get into the tailored, personalized approach that we see becoming more in line with what clients are looking for. The next time someone says, “Thanks! It has pockets,” don’t hesitate to start a conversation about why those pockets matter.
Courtney Kulp, ALMI, ACS, is supervisor, sales development specialist at Crump Life Insurance Services. Courtney may be contacted at [email protected].