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Why higher touch service creates “stickier” customer relationships

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I recently read a quote by business writers Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, from their respected book, The Discipline of Market Leaders. It reads, “Customer-intimate companies create for their clients an unmatched value proposition for the best total solution.” The companies that focus on creating that kind of intimacy, a “higher touch” service relationship with producers and their customers, have a competitive advantage.

To that end, focusing on these three principles can help drive a more personal relationship with customers:

  1. Make the complex seem easy.
  2. Be consistent always and excel in the “moments of truth” — the moments that really matter.
  3. Grow your business through technology.

These principles were born out of extensive research with producers and customers and are a direct result of diligent listening and learning, testing and refining, in conversations and through pilot studies and surveys. Let me share some examples of how distributors, agents and advisors benefit when these principles are put into action.  

1. Making the complex seem easy

Anyone reading this article likely knows the insurance sales process can be complex and lengthy, given the required medical exams, physician statements, and the data necessary to make an underwriting decision. Simplifying many of these complexities makes the sales transaction easier for producers and their clients. Carriers will often use “touch teams” — dedicated teams who work as liaisons with underwriting during the application process — to simplify the process for producers. These teams are easy to access and provide real-time answers to producers’ direct questions, and their work enables producers to concentrate on what they do best — selling.

For producers, managing expectations is a critical aspect of the sales process that builds credibility with clients and helps to demonstrate real value. Accessibility and communication are two important components of expectation management, and those producers who remain accessible to clients and communicate regularly and clearly with them throughout the application process keep clients grounded, eliminating surprises and generally creating a more rewarding customer experience.    

2. Being consistent always and excelling in the moments of truth

Customers expect consistency. They expect a certain level of service each time they reach out. In addition, there are key interactions when service must exceed expectations — we call these key interactions “moments of truth.” For carriers, investment in new technology, new processes, and human capital around servicing moments of truth can mean competitive advantage or improved service through cycle time reduction and increased workflow and output.  Likewise for producers, spending time with clients to identify what’s really important to them and then concentrating energy on those important moments can help them manage their time more effectively, build credibility and create their own competitive advantage.     

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3. Growing your business through technology

In the end, products, technology and tools help producers manage the customer experience from start to finish — understand the need, offer the right product combination, close the sale, deliver the coverage. For example, a needs analysis tool allows producers to work with their clients to understand their financial needs — from college funding and retirement planning to long-term care — and to help determine the best solutions to meet those needs. The numbers that result from the needs analysis can then be integrated into other tools, such as a health assessment, quoting system and a fulfillment platform. This simplifies and expedites the application submission and evaluation process, and improves the customer experience. By understanding and leveraging products, technology and tools, producers can enhance their personal brand, get closer to their customers and create a powerful value proposition as knowledgeable and efficient solutions providers.   

In conclusion, through an ongoing commitment to create customer intimacy, carriers and producers create what I call “sticky” relationships. They develop a sense of loyalty and a bond with customers and clients that is largely a result of high-quality service and a passion for providing total solutions. 


For more from Elena Edwards, see:

Technology-enhanced service paves the way to Main Street