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Insurance Retention Series #1: 5 Tips to Improve Customer Retention

We all know that retention in an insurance agency is vital for both growth and profitability.  Somewhat surprisingly, most insurance agencies do not share their retention number with their staff.  In fact, we have found that 87% of service staff do know know their retention rate.

Additionally, we have found few programs aimed specifically at improving retention.  While there are often procedures in place on how to handle specific situations, these procedures are usually focused on the data entry and documentation aspects, instead of the client’s experience.

Here are 5 tips on how to improve retention in your insurance agency.

Tip #1 – Get Proactive

Unsurprisingly to anyone that follows Agency Performance Partners, my number one tip to improving retention is to get proactive with an annual review call.  Agencies that implement this program typically see a 2-4 point increase in their retention percentage. We’ve actually seen it go up as high as 8!

A proactive outbound call is the number one thing you can do to improve your client’s experience with you.  This improved experience means they are less likely to go somewhere else, more likely to be pleasant and understanding, and more likely to write more business with you, including providing referrals.

Be sure to have a good plan in place and train in some of the discussion points.  A bad review call can be worse than no call at all. Don’t leave this up to chance – either invest in a formal training program, such as our AppX Retention program, or set aside time to work through this project and the training internally.

Tip #2 – Stop Thinking About Retention Only at the Renewal

While the renewal is the time someone will most likely consider making a change, the reason for the change is often a result of something that happened during the policy period.  This could be something substantial, like a bad claim experience, or something more minor, like some confusion during a policy change.

To minimize issues coming up during the policy term, we need to build out a full “Client Experience” model.  We should start with what happens when clients first start to engage with us (Marketing and Branding), then when they consider doing business with us (Sales), and finally, post-sale execution (Service).

We should have written documentation on the specific interactions with our clients that occur within each of these categories.  This means having a plan for all aspects of our marketing (digital and traditional), a solid sales process that is consistently followed, and individual procedures for each way we may interact with a client (up to and including a cancellation request).

By clearly defining the client experience and the process/procedures that make up this experience, we reduce the odds of a client having a reason to consider alternatives at renewal, or at any time during the policy term.

Tip #3 – Cross-Selling

We have all read the information regarding the direct correlation between writing multiple lines for a client and their retention rate.  However, many agencies still do not have programs around cross-selling their existing clients.

We should have marketing efforts, as well as proactive procedures in place to make sure we are informing our clients about other risks to which they are exposed, as well as the products we offer to protect them.

It is frustrating to lose a client or not write a specific policy simply because we did not inform the client we were able to assist them.  Cross-selling is nothing more than educating the client in four areas:

  • The additional risks may they have.
  • The solutions exist to protect against those risks.
  • The ways your agency provides these solutions.
  • The reasons why writing with one agency is in the client’s best interest.

It is not “salesy” or over-the-top.  It’s simply providing the information, so that the client can make an informed decision.  Cross-selling is much closer to good service than it is to sales.

Tip #4 – Asking For Referrals

Referrals are the gifts that keep on giving.  While we all know referrals are great for new business, they actually have at least as much impact on retention.  First, we know we write better business off of referrals. Most referred business is not the type of business that is going to be shopping every year for the best price (either with us or with our competition).  

Referral business also tends to be more understanding when there is an error and be lower maintenance overall.  I’m not suggesting that we should reduce effort or shoot for lower service levels, but when we deliver, it is recognized and appreciated.

Finally, when someone refers a friend or a family member to us, it dramatically reduces the odds they will leave.  It would be awkward to tell someone they should do business with us and then take their own elsewhere.

Tip #5 – Instill a Passion for Protection

My final tip is a little less tangible as it has to do more with approach and culture than it does specified effort.  Agencies with the highest retention rate are the ones that consistently preach protection, coverage, and service. If we are focused on price, cost, and premiums, the clients will be as well.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be getting our clients the best price for the right protection; but when we start with an eye on price, it is hard to convince them protection is more important.  When we start with a passion for protection, it drives both us and them to make sure we are first focused on the right coverage, and then work to get it at the best rate.

So, tell me what I missed!  What other tips would give to your fellow agents to help improve retention?

 

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