The famed author Thomas Merton said we value people, not for whom they are but for their usefulness. This is the same mistake companies make with customers. They value them for their usefulness—for what they spend.
Customers who are buying life insurance, annuities, or any other product or service see it differently—quite differently. As Gallup, Inc. researchers point out in commenting on the economy, “Consumers are spending money, but they’re more inclined to spend it only on businesses they feel good about.” Not businesses they may like or where they’re treated nicely. In other words, their money is going where they feel valued.
Most advisors do a fairly good job “pleasing” customers—getting orders right and delivering them on time, but that bar isn’t nearly high enough. Many advisors try to obey the “Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. But that rule isn’t specific enough.
Here are 22 specific ways to meet today’s major challenge of making life and annuity customers feel valued:
1. Never ask a customer to call back.
It’s rude and demeaning. Take their number and call them back or let them know who will be in touch with them.
2. Never leave customers hanging.
Always close the loop by letting them know what to expect or what’s going to happen next. It relieves frustration, uncertainty, and unnecessary unhappiness.
3. Always follow up right now.
Fast action is impressive; it says you care.
4. Ask customers if they would like help in filling out forms.
This takes away the drudgery. Just the offer alone sends the message that you’re willing to take the time to be helpful.
5. Make all messages, written and spoken, customer centric.
Start by never using “I” or “We.” They’re a turn off. Work at keeping the focus on the customer.
6. Give customers a contact person.
There’s nothing worse than feeling abandoned and that’s what happens to customers when they can’t penetrate a corporate firewall. Having a personal connection relieves stress.
7. Never let the size of the sale influence the way you treat a customer
When making a large purchase, customers expect the “red carpet” to be rolled out. But when a customer gets the same attention making a small purchase, it creates a lasting positive impression, one that keeps them coming back.
8. Never fail to acknowledge a customer even when you’re busy.
Failing to do so may be the unforgiveable business sin. It diminishes the customer, is never forgotten, and damages the relationship.
9. Never make excuses.
They’re always a failed attempt a make yourself look good. They send a message to others that you’re weak and deceitful, someone who can’t be trusted.
10. Always ask questions.
There is no substitute for getting another person to talk. Customers will be surprised and impressed because they’re always afraid no one will listen.
11. Give believable answers when you’re asked questions.