One hot topic that we have been dealing with here at APP in the AppX Retention Program is how to be efficient and effective with client maintenance. Have you ever had the feeling at your agency or your desk that you just can’t keep up? The clients need a lot and there are only so many hours in the work day. So how do we keep clients happy and make sure we are focusing on serving all of our customers, even the ones that don’t need us so much? We have broken down the keys to success like this:
- How much follow-up is enough?
- When to break up and move on with a client?
- How to speed up client follow-up
- Emotionally, how do we move on?
- When to stay in it at all costs
How Much Follow-Up Is Enough
We see it all the time, the 100+ overdue suspenses. It’s a hot mess of 2 minute to hour long tasks with no real rhyme or reason. We need to find ways to reduce the number of follow-ups. We can’t keep following up forever. There has to be a time when we “break up” with the task. Now I want to be clear, this is NOT for anything having to do with losing coverage; you need to focus on those with all measures possible. I’m talking about the VIN number you need, the report card, the contractors certificates. There comes a point when you need to put it to rest.
Our rule of thumb is 3 calls and 3 emails, and the trick is, when you leave a voicemail send the email. For those of you who have texting, same thing: voicemail, then text and email. You have to know that not everyone checks all methods routinely. If you need something, you have to follow up on it! But we can’t for weeks. Three and done, and on the final request you let them know this is the final request, just like this:
I know you are still working on getting me X. If you need any help just give me a shout. I know I have followed up a few times. I’m here if you need me, however, if you can’t send it over by DATE your X may change. Let me know how I can help.
This states the ball is in their court! Now you can shut down your suspense and move on. There comes a point when we can’t care more about their insurance than them.
When to Break Up with a Client
We are not meant to serve everyone. There may be several clients who are not great fits for the agency and may be unprofitable. We are firm believers that agencies need to have parameters on who to move away from. This includes:
- Any client who is verbally abusive or swears at the staff
- Clients who have more than 3 late pays/reinstatements or rewrites for non-payment per year
- Anyone with more than 3 at fault accidents in 3 years
- Those lines of business you are not comfortable with and/or don’t have the markets for
Let’s face it: the high service low premium clients are not profitable for the agency. They also can wear down the staff and make it difficult to provide wow service to the happy, paying clients.
Speeding Up Client Follow-Through
In order to get what we need, we have to stop the 7 day follow-ups we all have learned to do. Seven days in 2018 is eternity. We need to use the 2-3 day follow-ups. The tasks that linger make us inefficient. Let the client know you will follow up in 2 days, so they know there is strong call to action. Everything with a strong deadline gets done faster. Imagine following up 2-3 times in a 5 business day period, and you will get what you need. Keep the projects moving and there will be less room for error, mistakes and follow-ups.
Emotionally, How Do We Move On
One thing we see draining account managers is the feeling they are getting blown off. You know when you remarket someone, save them tons of money, and they never call you back. It gets to you over time. When you practice the 3 quick follow-ups, you know you gave it your all, and you most likely received a quick response, meaning the person indicated to you what is next. In order to get more responses we have to be intensive and insistent. When you standardize following up you know you did a good job. You did your job!
When You Have to Stay In at All Costs
There are certainly times when these rules don’t 100% apply. The top ones we recognize are:
- Any jeopardy of coverage, you follow up until the end
- When you need to hit your sales goal and/or revenue goals, keep at it
- When they are VIP Clients who warrant extra hand-holding
We need to be efficient and effective with our time. All too often we spend so much time on low profit, needy clients and forget our top profit clients who need very little from us. With our Agency Assessments and AppX Retention program we can help tackle that in your agency.