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Best Practices: Understanding What Your Client Wants

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I strongly believe clients want and need frequent touch points with their agent or advisor. Clients also want service that is personalized to their situational needs. Genworth’s 2011 LifeJacket Study pointed out weaknesses in customer behavior and proactive approaches agents and advisors can employ to build client relationships, increase trust and provide the opportunity to recommend new products. A few important highlights:

Consumers want regular policy reviews and updates. The online survey of respondents for LifeJacket said that 69% wanted contact within a year, either in person or by phone, with their insurance representative. In fact, less than half of policyholders (47%) said they do review their policy annually.

Reaching out to the consumer is incumbent upon agent/advisors. Surprisingly, 29% of consumers revealed they had not reviewed their coverage since they initially purchased their policy. By not reviewing their policies and keeping in step with life changes — birth, death, purchase of a home, job change — that would require changes to insurance coverage, many may be underinsured or uninsured, relying on a policy that may be decades old and virtually ineffective.

See also: Selling the Need

These life transitions have long been recognized as important periods for reevaluation and reflection. However, the LifeJacket research found the time between the trigger event and actual purchase varies widely, depending on the event. There is an opportunity for financial professionals to shorten the timeframe between life transitions and purchases by reestablishing connections and providing consumers greater control in the education process.

Make the most of your time and your clients’ time. Going further, more than three-quarters of those surveyed (77%) expected to review their financial plan with an advisor/agent in an hour or less. Take the time to review the policy and plan the questions you want to ask before you meet. Along with being efficient, doing your homework shows you are focused on your clients and interested in their personal lives.

Look at the current economic picture and customize your offerings to your clients’ financial situation. While the market has had some recent surges, there is no predictable forecast for the economic recovery. With anticipated rising gas costs comes a ripple effect on consumer goods pricing and increases in shipping and transportation costs. That means another bite being taken out of the paycheck to cover cost of living. Your clients may benefit from help in tailoring their coverage needs to best suit them now, and for the future.

Make sure your clients take advantage of online tools to help them educate themselves. While some online life insurance tools have been around for years, it was surprising to learn from our LifeJacket Study that 77% of consumer respondents said they’ve never used a life insurance calculator to determine their life insurance needs. When respondents were shown our life insurance calculator, 88% said it would be helpful to them during the purchase process. And 41% of consumers wanted to see a calculator displaying an amount of insurance based on their individual situation during the actual purchase process. Advisors who are not using some form of needs analysis calculator with their clients are missing an opportunity to dynamically illustrate the important elements that make up adequate coverage, such as income replacement, debt payment, future college costs, and ultimately, supplying their client with a customized life insurance policy.

Set the mood for some serious conversations. Beyond life insurance comes the reality of saving for college, retirement and the high cost of aging. According to the 2011 Financial Reality Check Studyconducted by Genworth, 75% of Americans have not had a conversation about long-term care with their loved ones in the past year. However, 70% would not know what to do if a family member were to require immediate long-term care assistance — an alarming statistic considering 6 out of 10 people will need long-term care sometime during their lifetimes.

Keep your promises. An important LifeJacket survey question revealed that half of consumers said their top criterion for building trust was seeing their agents/advisors follow through on promises. Be prompt about getting back to a client with more information, scheduling a follow-up meeting, and checking in on the new baby, the recent widow or the parents of the bride.

In giving your clients the time, responsiveness, and personal counsel, you place yourself as a trusted advocate, helping them protect their families and live financially strong.

About the 2011 Genworth LifeJacket Study, 7 Key Insights to Help Close the Coverage Gap: Over the course of 2010 and 2011, Genworth and Dr. Gregory Fairchild of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business conducted a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative research studies. These studies were employed using various third-party research firms and several different respondent bases by telephone, online and mail, in order to help answer the key research question of, “Why are so many Americans uninsured or underinsured today?”

In seeking these answers, Genworth’s customer insights team either interviewed participants or worked with outside research firms to develop, launch and interpret results for 240 participants (ages 18 and up) in the qualitative research and 25,445 participants (ages 18 and up) in the quantitative research.

About the 2011 Financial Reality Check Study: The 2011 Financial Reality Check Study is a national study conducted by Genworth and was fielded online from August 17-21, 2011. In total, 1,073 interviews were conducted with adults ages 25 years and older, with incomes of $50,000 and above, with all other demographics being a representative sample of the United States. The study holds a 95% confidence level, with a 3% margin of error.

For more advice on working with clients, see:

Life Insurance Sales: Emphasizing the “What’s In It for Me” Factor

Why Me-First Sellers Finish Last

Advisors: Don’t Overlook the Singles Market


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