While generating new business is very important, we often overlook our renewal process. An agency’s retention strategy is, without question, one of the most important areas that impact its financial health, profitability, and future success.
According to several industry surveys, the average retention rate in our industry is 82–83 percent. That means the average agency has to generate 17–18 percent in new business just to break even. Yes, those are real numbers—creating a difficult, and expensive, challenge for an agency.
We all know it is far cheaper to keep a client than to obtain a new one; in fact, it is estimated that acquiring a new client costs an insurance agency eight times more than to retain a current client. So with that said, why do we not invest in a retention strategy? What all this means is that an agency with a lower retention rate is less profitable than one with a higher retention rate. Just think how much sense this makes—we become more profitable with less effort if we just focus on the clients we have!
Retention is a critically important component to your agency’s overall financial health; even more so to its bottom line and profitability. Here are some ways that data, is easily captured inside your agency, can be utilized to build your retention strategy.
Look in the rearview mirror and take responsibility
If you believe, as I do, that the best predictor of the future is the past, then it’s worth it to evaluate, review and learn from your lost clients. In doing so, you can work to reduce the number of future accounts that are at risk by thoroughly analyzing your agency’s “clean” data. Taking an in-depth look at very important things such as payment behavior (eft-pay in full, etc.), claims activity, longevity of a client with your agency, reviewing your NPS, rate changes and customer interactions with your agency, can help you understand some of the signs that were present before you lost those clients. Understanding these signs and identifying clients in your agency’s book that may have similar situations will enable you and your staff take a proactive approach to engage with these accounts before they become at risk.
How we do that at Paradiso Insurance is with the use of DONNA (Aureus Analytics). DONNA is a data program that is giving our client service reps a “SentiMeter®” score—a real-time Net Promoter Score without asking the client. Yes, an NPS without having our clients give us feedback. We are getting this information from our agency’s AMS, Rocket Referrals, and VoIP system. This DONNA data system is also tracking the client’s journey in order to help us identify those who are at risk, along with why. In the past, our agency would review insights of lost clients; by building these lessons into our processes, we can improve our overall client retention. Now, though, our agency doesn’t have to wait to lose a client; with DONNA, we have the data to help our CSR identify the risk before they leave, and take action to fix the issue and give a better customer experience.
One of the best ways to increase your agency’s retention is to gain a deeper understanding of your clients. That means having a communication strategy—reaching out to clients regularly, listening and understanding their situation. In order to put this information to use, you will need to capture key information about their needs, situation, business, life events, then take that information and place it in your AMS along with the phone call. By communicating and listening, you will be able to provide content and advice that is timely and relevant to their situation, resulting in your clients valuing your expertise, looking to you for the advice they need, and trusting you as the expert. The two key takeaways are: first, have a communication strategy for your agency; and second, remember to LISTEN and document.
One of the keys to retention strategy is anticipation. We must stop being re-active and become pro-active. What this means is that first, every agency must have a renewal/retention communication strategy. Waiting for our clients to reach out to us (if you’re lucky enough to have them reach out to you) is not a good pro-active strategy. Another way in which pro-active communication helps is by improving agency culture, helping us to not receive those angry and upset telephone calls. Two key takeaways from having a pro-active strategy: first, your retention numbers will be six to seven percent higher, and second, your agency culture will improve.
The best way for any company to find out what its clients think is to ask them. This is why we use Rocket Referrals. In today’s ever-changing data world, we don’t have to wait and ask our client, because we have a great tech tool called DONNA. However, just because we have implemented this tool doesn’t mean we’ve stopped surveying our clients—we still do it regularly so that we can identify which of our clients are raving fans, along with those who may be at risk of leaving. We are utilizing both pieces of technology because they play a vital role in our customer experience and retention strategy. Data is our agency’s hidden weapon and is what gives us a leg up on our competition.
Data can be incredibly powerful, but only if it’s “clean” data, in building your renewal strategy. It does not need to be complicated or expensive to put data to work for you; all you have to do is turn it on. Your agency can compete against the billion-dollar ads—all you need to do is use your already-existing data.