FIVE TIPS FOR IMPRESSING YOUR CLIENTS WITH A STRATEGIC PLAN
It’s easier to hang on to clients if you’re deliberate about your approach
The percentage of customers that will consider changing companies after
a single instance of poor customer service is 33% … .
By Michael Wayne
In a recent Taylor Landis-penned article for OutboundEngine.com, reported data reaffirmed what we all know—acquiring new clients is woefully more expensive than retaining those that we already have secured. What you may not know is the cost is actually five times more expensive. A mere gain of 5% in customer retention “can increase profits from 35% to 95%.” Additionally, “the success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60% to 70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5% to 20%.”
Of course, just as you are looking to retain your clients, someone else is looking to make them their new clients. Here is another eye-opener that Landis included: The percentage of customers that will consider changing companies after a single instance of poor customer service is 33%, according to American Express.
This all begs the question, “How are you shoring up your retention strategy?” If you don’t have a strategic plan for each of your clients, or if you haven’t updated your strategic plans recently, you are running the risk of providing your clients with a customer service experience that will make them one of the 33%. To help ensure you avoid such calamities, here are five tips for impressing your clients with a strategic plan.
Keep the goal in view. The driving reason to have a strategic plan is to ensure you and your client are doing what is necessary to benefit their bottom line. Make certain that what you are doing and what you are having your client do are clearly understood. Moreover, make sure that the “why” is comprehended. If you don’t have buy-in, the likelihood of success is low. Above all else, communicate to your client that you not only intend to provide them with what they expect from a service standpoint, but that your aim is to exceed that expectation in a way that does not impede their goals.
Show, don’t tell. Share facts and data with your client to support what your strategic plan contains. Explain the need for on-site safety seminars from loss control personnel and how they reduce accidents. Walk your client through how catastrophe modeling and having each individual structure that they own on a single parcel of land mapped for assessing flood and wind damage impacts their coverage. Find out and share with your client what their competitors are doing. Stay abreast of what is going on in their industry from a regulatory and policy perspective to offer an extra set of eyes and ears and keep them ahead of the curve when it comes to their coverage.
Identify specific objectives. Illustrating how what you do is actually a part of your client’s business plan is invaluable. This is where you really need to dig in and figure out how what you have to offer can supplement your client’s desire for a bigger market share—attracting the best employees, remaining in compliance and staying ahead of regulatory changes, etc. Additionally, this is also when you need to take stock and understand what services and resources you are lacking. When your client thinks of their long-term success, those thoughts should include your expertise and wisdom to make it achievable.
The final two tips are offshoots of the previous one.
Demonstrate your work’s performance. You must be able to show that what you are doing is making a difference. Doing so requires that you set measurable objectives. On the most basic of levels, this can be as simple as asking whether you did what you promised. Please, don’t stop there. Identify outputs such as:
- How many accidents did you help to prevent?
- How many open claims did you get closed?
- What effect did your work have on the client’s E-Mod?
- How much did you reduce the client’s premium by? Where were those additional funds redirected (R&D, new equipment, expansion, etc.) and what impact did that have?
Go beyond. Work with your client to survey their customers to find out how their perceptions of your client changed over the course of a year based on areas you worked to improve. Determine measurables that indicate how what you did contributed to sales goals, revenue, employee retention, etc. Naturally, you will need to have prior indicators to measure from in any such instances.
Establish accountability. Your client needs to know what is expected of them and of their employees regarding your strategic plan for them. Establish which tasks you are responsible for and what the next steps are when the ball gets dropped. Remember, goals should be achievable. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be challenging, but they shouldn’t be so lofty that they actually do more harm than good by damaging morale if they are not met. Plans should have some flexibility. Afterall, you can’t predict when the world may shut down for a pandemic, when riots and protests could destroy business properties, or when some other catastrophic event may occur.
By implementing a successful strategic plan that shows you really care about your client and their passion, you will no doubt gain the respect and trust of those who are making the decisions when it comes to coverage. Those are powerful allies when it comes to retaining your clients and having the word spread to prospects.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.