Everybody gets that relationships trump transactions. But what is it about a relationship that makes customers keep coming back?
You might think it’s customer service. Sure, that’s important, but it’s a given. You can’t be a serious business without providing good service. It’s not a differentiator.
In a service-centric business, relationship differentiation comes down to three things. Make these three things the foundation of customer engagement and watch your recurring revenue, repeat purchases, and referrals climb.
And it’s not just theory. We’ve helped about 8,000 agents set 2,000,000 appointments with existing customers in the past 20 years. These three fundamentals are always at the core of successful, long-term customer engagement.
But even more relevant is this: I’m coming to you as a relatively sophisticated insurance consumer with a larger-than-average portfolio of insurance and financial products. These three fundamentals matter to me and others just like me.
For customers to stay with you long-term, they must know that you put their needs and well-being first.
I literally have talked to agents who think this is the dumbest idea ever. “I’m selling insurance. Why do I have to build a relationship with customers? Why should I meet with them? Getting insured is their job.”
But I’ve also met agents who think of their job as a calling. They see caring deeply about their customers’ well-being is the most natural part of their business.
Guess who wins?
On our end, when we try to schedule customer appointments for agents who only care about quick sales, we encounter a lot more resistance. Customers say things like:
“I don’t want to meet with him. He just wants to sell me something.”
But when customers believe that the appointment is about taking care of their needs, and not the agent’s, they don’t feel like they’re being sold to. They’re more willing to engage in a conversation every year or two, and they’re more likely to give that agent their repeat purchases, recurring revenue, and referrals.
Those agents report higher customer retention and more average policies per household, not to mention they sound happier and more fulfilled.
As a customer myself, I need to know that my agent or financial advisor knows what he or she is doing. It’s ok if they don’t have every answer to every question, but they had better know where to find it.
Here’s what customers like me see in a credible agent:
- They listen. They’re curious and they want to understand us, not sell at us.
- They know their stuff. We want to deal with a professional. Not the world’s foremost expert–just someone competent.
- They keep their commitments. Nothing is worse than waiting for a quote or a document that never comes, or showing up to a meeting with an agent who is unprepared.
Note: Care and Credibility are the keys to earning a customer’s trust. And trust is what lowers shields and makes a customer willing to openly share information and answer questions. It’s also what keeps them from going somewhere else to save a few bucks.
This is the icing on the cake.
You can be really good at customer engagement. You can demonstrate care and credibility like no other.
But if your agency isn’t optimized for meeting with customers and having high-value conversations–if your sporadic or promotion-driven–you won’t get the magic that some agencies get.
Because when you’re consistent, you and your organization will gradually reformulate your processes, systems, and culture around customer interactions.
It’s subtle and nuanced, but the vibe it creates is obvious to the customer. You can’t duplicate that vibe if you’re just trying to get a quick sale or hit a target.
Care, credibility, and consistency say that your business embraces the supremacy of customer relationships. Pretty hard to beat.