MAKING CUSTOMER SERVICE YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Turn technology into a benefit that catapults your agency ahead of others in the market
By TJ Whelan
Today’s insurance marketplace is saturated with options. To be competitive, you need to stand out. Perhaps the most obvious—but most difficult—way to do that is through pricing. You can’t set your prices too high unless you have the quality service to back them up, but if you price too low, you risk losing profits.
So how do you stand out while remaining competitive? Focus on your customer experience.
We’ve all heard that “the customer is always right.” And while there may be some truth to that saying, customer experience is more than just agreeing with your clients and satisfying their immediate needs.
If approached correctly, strong customer service can be your ticket to customer retention. Striving to provide services and benefits that span the full customer lifecycle will result in happier customers who are more likely to stay with your agency and share their experiences with friends and family.
Why you should care
According to data from a 2018 PwC report looking at the future of customer experience, nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
That same study found that 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their buying decisions. Furthermore, 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience and 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.
Technology is your friend
In the age of mobile ordering and next-day shipping, customers expect to interact with their insurance products wherever and whenever they want. This can get tricky since we all know that finding the best policies for your customers’ needs can be time-consuming, clunky, and frustrating. Even the best agents face obstacles throughout the insurance lifecycle. But the good news is that technology can help.
Adopting technology can create enormous rewards for insurance agencies. Not only do digital tools help attract and retain customers by providing platforms to meet them where they are, but these tools can also save agents time by automating away their most tedious tasks.
For example, digitizing applications and automating your onboarding experience will save time for both you and your clients, creating a positive experience from day one. Take it one step further and take advantage of interactive forms and e-signatures to make your renewal time fast, easy, and secure.
Another overlooked way to improve your customer experience is during the quoting process. Streamlining this workflow with a single-entry quoting solution will let your agents quote multiple lines of business with multiple carriers without re-entering data.
Not only will your team waste less time by ditching tedious tasks, but they will also help you write more business and reduce the errors and omissions (E&O) exposure that comes with manual data entry.
At first glance, it may seem like this behind-the-scenes process doesn’t play a role in your customers’ experience. However, by being able to quote from more carriers, your customers will benefit from receiving the best coverage for their needs.
With increased efficiencies throughout the insurance lifecycle, your agents will have more time to focus on servicing customers and providing the best possible experience.
Rather than think about technology as a disruption to your daily workflow or as a liability, you can turn it into a benefit that catapults your agency into a far more competitive role. Leveraging technology shows your customers how you’re adding value. Price then becomes a non-issue.
While technology can be a time-saving
and profitable asset for your agency, it’s still
important to focus on the human aspect
of the customer experience. …
Customer relationships matter.
Bringing the human touch
While technology can be a time-saving and profitable asset for your agency, it’s still important to focus on the human aspect of the customer experience. In the study mentioned above, PwC found that as technology improves and automation becomes more prevalent, most American consumers will engage with apps, self-service checkouts, websites and the like, but want easy access to speak with a person, especially when something goes wrong.
Customer relationships matter. Build a strong foundation by making your customers feel as if they have a strong, personal connection with you. Go beyond providing basic support and find ways to make them feel important. This doesn’t have to be a big, expensive lift. It can be as simple as recognizing milestones and life events with a phone call, card, or email.
With post-pandemic safety measures and working from home becoming the new norm, consumers appreciate human connections more than ever. Even the smallest efforts to connect with your customers will go a long way.
Take advantage of any opportunity to hear feedback from your customers—both good and bad. There are many ways to ask for feedback. You can consider actively reaching out to customers as they reach milestones, or setting up designated times throughout the year for check-ins.
You can also conduct surveys and hold feedback sessions. Not to mention, your agents and support teams will most likely receive feedback during their daily interactions with customers. Make sure they’re taking notes and sharing with the team.
We all want to feel heard, especially when experiencing issues or growing pains with the services we purchase. Actively seeking out and incorporating feedback is helpful for the growth of your agency and this information should be included in your CRM or internal note-taking system for future reference.
Building customer experience
It’s more important than ever to build your customer experience. But you must be mindful of creating a balance of digital and human elements. As the above-mentioned survey found, consumers want the benefits of integrated technology without losing the human touch.
Creating a seamless experience allows technology to support your agents through the insurance lifecycle so that they can engage with their customers and provide the best possible service, according to the PwC report.
At the end of the day, customer experience—whether digital or human—is a crucial part of customer retention. The secret to providing a great customer experience is simple: Give customers what they want. After all, happy customers help increase word-of-mouth marketing, increasing the awareness of your agency within your industry by becoming brand advocates. Your agency will then reap the rewards.
As director of customer success, TJ Whelan leads Tarmika’s Customer Success team as they work with the users from the time the sale is closed throughout the entirety of the client’s time as a subscriber. TJ joined Tarmika in April 2020 as the company’s only customer success manager and has successfully built out Tarmika’s Customer Success department. TJ has held various sales and account management roles prior to Tarmika. These have ranged from the data center asset management in the government sector to working with colleges and universities, selling educational resources and managing relationships with procurement and purchasing managers at these institutions.