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For centuries, businesses have set themselves apart by providing exceptional service to customers.
But with so many more ways of communicating today, creating a consistent and seamless experience has never been harder.
This is especially true when your offer as an insurance broker competes with direct insurers and other brokers. Your service is the key differentiator.
“We’ve all got access to similar products, so creating a great customer experience is the only way to stand out and build loyalty,” says Quinton McCauley, Account Manager and Team Leader with Honan Insurance Group.
He says it’s important to remember insurance is often perceived as a problem or a hassle, even for the largest corporate clients.
So how do you ‘take that pain away’? We’ve rounded up 10 ideas to try in your brokerage based on conversations with people in the industry.
Quinton says the very first conversation is one of the most critical points in a client journey. “You need to know what you want from that conversation – and by the end you should know what the client wants. What are they looking for, and why aren’t they currently being provided that by their existing solution?”
Asking some tough questions takes courage, but it also helps you avoid wasting time with ‘tyre kickers’.
“Good brokers help their clients navigate the complexity of insurance, and that means presenting a solution to their pain points. When you do that well, the feeling of relief in the room is palpable.”
The second critical point is that first tricky question or problem – like a challenging claim. “This is your opportunity to build the relationship or burn it,” says Quinton. “The one thing clients look for is availability. Show you care about them in the way you respond, because a problem will only damage your relationship if you handle it badly.”
One of the biggest hassles for a new client is the time it takes to explain their entire business. “We need detailed information on their markets, strategy, risk… so do you pass that problem back to the client, or do you make it easy for them?” asks Quinton. “Rather than say, ‘now you need to complete this 30 page form’, explain you need to give the insurer a good understanding of their business, you’ve pre-filled as much as you can, and then talk them through it.”
Whether your main interaction with clients is online or in person, this approach should be the same.
Of course, these days we expect to complete most forms online – and while Quinton admits insurers need to take the lead on offering user-friendly editable online forms he notes that the insurance sector has some way to go here.
Quinton says one of the most surprisingly impressive experiences he has had recently was at a new Service NSW branch, when he renewed his driver licence.
“It was almost like walking into an Apple store – someone came up and asked me what I needed today, and took all the confusion out of what to do next,” he notes. The key thing for him was getting a ticket with his allocated timeslot. “It set my expectations for how long I would wait. That’s something we need to do as well. Clients will get frustrated if they expect a response within days but it will actually take three weeks.”
It’s often said that the true value of using a broker is the advice they give. So when it comes to renewal, don’t just present a list of options. Clients want you to tell them the best approach for their needs.
This creates a continuing cycle of trust – the bedrock of a positive client relationship – and removes the hassle of worrying about a complex decision. As Elixir Consulting’s Sue Viskovic described in Changes ahead for risk advisers, you’re not selling insurance: you’re selling the outcome – peace of mind.
Automating the application process is one way to make things easier for clients. But marketing automation also makes it possible to make customised email lists feel personal.
“Client Relationship Management (CRM) platforms like Infusionsoft and Marketo let you craft a customer experience through a sequence of emails to help clients understand a product over time,” explains Joe Cincotta, Managing Director of user experience agency Pixolüt.
This lets you deal with (and inform) many more customers, but with a highly personal touch – so when you do pick up the phone or have that meeting, the seeds for the relationship have been sown.
Quinton says Honan will often get the insurer in the room with the client, so they also understand their business first hand. “Effectively, we are creating a tripartite relationship.”
This approach can also help if you want to align your systems for a large, complex client. “If we can streamline their risk reporting into our systems, we can use their data to track trends – and the insurer really appreciates how proactive that is.”
“Improving the online user experience is about helping people focus on their core objective,” says Joe.
He says that as Pixolüt helps clients with their platform design, they regularly find 80 per cent of users are trying to do the same thing. But in catering for the remaining 20 per cent, all sorts of complex steps are introduced into the workflow.
“You should be able to take care of 80 per cent of scenarios through a super simple customer experience, and put the exceptions through different paths. This is true in-person as well as online.”
Honan does a lot of business in the technology sector, so Quinton says he has seen first hand the impact of reinventing a process to take away the pain for customers.
“The firms that are successful are the ones that make transactions easier for people,” he concludes.
“People are more pressed for time than ever, so it’s a massive advantage if you can provide a quick solution and make the decision process easy.”
What do you do in your firm to give your clients a great experience?