I have developed a few different onboarding programs and have worked on many with clients. The onboarding process is always unique for each agency, but the components are all very similar. There are numerous components to consider such as resources, systems, costs, and client personas. We first need to consider what we can do within our staffing, technology and budget restraints. Then we figure out how to optimize these items against what is going to have the most positive outcome for our clients.
Staffing constraints are always a consideration when developing a new process. We have to be aware of the staff’s capacity but also of the potential push back that we get with anything new. We need to make sure that we are creating as little human effort as possible while also creating buy-in that this process has benefits to them and the agency. Like most customer experience items, there is a direct benefit to the employees. Customers that have a good experience are always more forgiving when something goes wrong. If they like the agency and the carrier does something wrong, we want them coming to us seeking help, not looking to place blame.
We then need to determine what functionality our existing systems have that will allow us to build the onboarding process that we desire. Some system’s functions can include manual or automated tasks to keep us organized, sending out emails or texts (again, can be manual or automated), or even making printing letters or other items easier, faster, or at a lower cost.
As part of your marketing budget and annual planning, you can easily calculate the costs that you will incur as part of your onboarding program by calculating out your projected new client count and adding any fixed costs for systems or equipment. A simple onboarding process may not cause you to incur any additional costs (phone call, email, etc.) if you already have the system and functionality in place. More complex processes can include additional systems you have to purchase. If you choose to go with any type of Welcome Kit or mailing you will have ongoing costs for the items, packaging, and shipping as well.
Most agencies that I know that have installed an onboarding process do not separate out the process by customer persona. Some do have a different process based on the department, lead line of business, or volume/score of the client. But many just have a set process that they follow to keep it simple and avoid making assumptions about a new client and what type of customer (or referral source) they may become.
The key to any process is making sure that it is clear and followed consistently. You should definitely write out the process and review it with the staff, but you should also continue to discuss it weekly until you are comfortable that it is in place and then go to monthly or bi-monthly discussion if there is confidence that it is being executed correctly. The discussion should then turn to track the success and determining if it should be tweaked.
As mentioned at the top, every agency is going to have a different onboarding process, but many of the components are the same. Most onboarding processes are a combination of emails, texts, phone calls, and some type of mailing. For certain commercial accounts a drop-by is also sometimes added.
The key is to have a written process that ideally is backed up by automation that either indicates to a person that something needs to be done (calls/mailings) or is fully automated (emails/texts). The timing of everything should be included in the process as well and should go up through (at least) the first renewal. The topics should include a sincere thank you, documents that should have been received at that point, contact information for the agency and/or the carrier, additional information on their policy as well as other available coverages and policies, a cross-sell pitch, and testimonial and referral requests.
Here is a sample onboarding process:
- Day 0
- Email – Congratulations email from agent
- Text – Notification the policy was issued
- Day 1
- Email – Sincere thank you (video?) from agency principal
- Welcome Kit is mailed (more on this in next week’s blog!)
- Day 3
- Phone Call – Confirmation the policy was issued; sincere thank you
- Day 5
- Email – “Save this email” with contact information
- Day 7
- Email & Text – Testimonial Request
- Day 14
- Email – Notification the policy document should have been received by now
- Text – same message
- Day 21
- Email – (video?) more information about the agency
- Day 30
- Phone Call – Thank you, see if there are any issues, cross-sell, referral request
- Day 40
- Email – Referral Request
- Day 41-304
- Emails – placed in your standard eBlast campaigns along with any that may be specific to them (personal lines vs commercial lines, home-no-auto, etc.)
- Day 305
- Proactive Renewal Phone Call
- Day 335
- Renewal Email
- Day 366+
- Entered into your standard email contact and renewal programs.
Next week we will look deeper into what goes into a welcome kit. We will then discuss the value of the 30 day renewal call. As part of both our Agency Assessment and our AppX Customer Experience programs, we can help to establish the onboarding process that is right for your agency