After more than a year of watching the world change radically, consumers need three things: security, comfort and support. In other words, they need empathy and understanding from brands they trust — and from their insurance providers most of all.
In fact, your insurance brand’s overall empathy matters more than ever to customers who’ve undergone what can only be called an emotional roller coaster. They want to feel that you’re sitting on the same side of the table as they are. And that might require you to change the way you approach your client relationships.
Fueling Customer Loyalty Through Empathy
As McKinsey’s 2020 research shows, customers are looking for incredibly personalized solutions. They want to know how working with your insurance company will help them stay grounded and secure. Consequently, you can’t rely on standard marketing appeals to force bonds with prospects and clients. Instead, you have to lean fully into empathy.
For instance, your agents and service representatives might need to become more active problem solvers for customers. This would require them to listen to clients’ pain points, pay attention to what’s important to the people they serve and learn to connect with grace and transparency.
Although transforming your workplace into a people-driven, empathetic culture will take time, it will also provide you with advantages. According to reporting by Insurance Journal, more than half of all consumers would patronize a different business if it offered an exceptional customer experience. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, those numbers would likely be higher.
Another benefit of corporate empathy is that it can boost profits. McKinsey determined that insurance providers offering world-class customer service enjoyed higher revenue margins of about 30%. Accordingly, by being laser-focused on your customers’ needs, fears and wants above all else, you can both hit your quarterly numbers and reap public goodwill.
By driving up your empathy, you can drive up retention rates — and maybe snag competitors’ customers in the process. As I’ve written before, I’ve seen how a terrific and empathetic insurance brand reputation can cause customers to migrate from one insurer to another, regardless of price.
See also: 2021: The Great Reset in Insurance
So how do you inch your customer experience protocol toward empathy and away from “business as usual?” Try adopting these measures:
1. Give customers your full attention.
Insurance agents are sometimes surprised when clients leave. Upon reflection, many realize they haven’t spoken with those customers in a long time or weren’t giving each customer their undivided attention during the last interaction.
Being present can be tough — especially when your days are busy and your workload is heavy. Nevertheless, when you start to see your clients as individuals and not numbers, you open the door to making real connections.
Pull out your calendar. Based on your availability and schedule, design a plan to stay in regular contact with all customers. EY reporting suggests 44% of insurance clients haven’t had any communication with their provider or agent in the past 18 months. Be the insurance agent who gets in touch every few months just to make sure everything’s OK. You’ll set yourself apart instantly and show your empathy.
2. Make clients feel special.
Your customers might assume that you see them as just a record in your CRM system. Prove them wrong by making them feel unique and important through life-event marketing. For example, why not send out birthday cards or emails? The process takes only a little bit of time, but it makes a powerful impact.
Alternatively, you could send out a card reminding customers of their “anniversary” with your insurance company. Or you could call to thank them on that anniversary and use the call to find out if they’ve had any life changes that could affect their insurance needs.
You’d be amazed at how far a little delight can go toward creating emotional inroads with customers. So, gather your team and brainstorm ways to initiate personal touchpoints throughout the year — not just during the typical year-end holidays.
3. Show your human side.
Establishing real relationships with your customers requires you to enter into a give-and-take relationship. In other words, you need to let them know about you. Don’t worry — you aren’t obligated to become best buddies with your clients. However, you should be willing to take the tone of a friend and share a bit about yourself.
Make no mistake about it: People are craving basic interactions. The more you can drop the veil of the arm's-length salesperson and foster a human touch, the tighter your client bond will be.
Need suggestions? Talk about your kids. Or your awful golf swing. Or even how insurance helped you. If you’re not totally comfortable talking about yourself, you can always coordinate volunteer events and invite clients to participate. That way, you can spend time with customers and make similar memories.
Just two years ago, you could get away with sales efforts focused on standardization and data. Not any more. To hold on to great customers, you need to lead with a dose of old-fashioned empathy.