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Navigating technology: Using data for retention

February 12, 2024

In the insurance industry, client retention is a pivotal aspect of maintaining a thriving agency. It’s far more cost-effective to retain existing clients than to acquire new ones. That makes it crucial to  understand how to use client data effectively to aid retention; however, the key to a successful retention strategy lies not only in the renewal phase but begins as early as the prospecting phase.

The prospecting phase: Identifying and attracting clients

Data-driven marketing begins with identifying clients for your agency. This involves collecting and analyzing a variety of data points to understand client profiles, behaviors, and preferences. Key data points to consider include:

  • Demographic information
  • Interests, attitudes, behaviors
  • Policy types and limits
  • Communication preferences

Technology plays a significant role here, and the following solutions in your agency harness the data to make prospecting efforts worthwhile:

  • Website – Your forms are key. Knowing your clients by line of business and tailoring your intake to collect the data you know is necessary to ultimately sell, onboard and service should be wrapped in an attractive, interactive experience. Whether you provide instant quotes or simply collect to connect over the phone, a form that fits your agency’s process is imperative.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) – Whether you are on a standardized platform or simply have a process that is led by spreadsheets, the CRM is a repository for details that span from the prospect’s personal and/or business appetite to the more personalized birthdate, company anniversary, children’s names and other intimate details that allow you to send best wishes throughout the relationship.
  • Phone system – Phone systems, whether wired in the office or in the cloud online, have become crucial data collectors. You can record, transcribe, identify keywords and their frequency, positive and negative sentiment and more. These conversational characteristics establish intent through context, which is valuable when trying to repeat prospecting tactics.

The onboarding and service process: Welcoming clients into the agency

Once a prospect becomes a client, the onboarding process begins. This is a crucial stage in setting the tone for the relationship and fostering client loyalty. The onboarding process should ensure that clients are fully aware of the services available to them, from emergency assistance to claims processing and education about their chosen policies.

Key data points to consider at this stage include:

  • Client contact information
  • Policy details
  • Specific needs or concerns
  • Engagement frequency

Technology enhances the onboarding process, and here are ways to consider their value.

Agency management systems – We know the agency management system (AMS) serves as a heartbeat for client and policy details. Through data connectivity with client-facing tools that provide ongoing communication, the information stored in the AMS comes alive and can make the difference between generic and personal. Knowing the client’s preferences and personal details–and using that data to craft a check-in message via email or text–creates a positive impression and the confidence that your agency is in lockstep with their journey.

Marketing automation platforms – Communication is key. Powered with client data that personalize campaigns that welcome the client, educate on how to contact the agency at vulnerable moments, update on what to expect during the claims process, warn of an impending storm, celebrate key milestones and remind that a policy renewal approaches convey you know what the client wants to know and when. Data drives frequency and relevance and allows you to scale with your successful prospecting efforts, knowing the client will benefit from an informed and automated journey.

Chat tools – Whether you embrace artificial intelligence (AI) or a simple intake form, chat tools create catered barriers that greet clients at critical moments. Getting the client acquainted at onboarding with ways to contact you should include solutions that initiate processes before your involvement. Chat tools are as good as the prompts provided by the user; so if a client is asked to self-select a sales or service related path, chat technology uses the data to react and create the next comment or question that replicates a human conversation. Clients want to know if and how they can get in touch with you as they consider critical moments in their lives that change their personal and business trajectory. Chat provides an opportunity to collect additional data that feeds your AMS and CRM that can be used later to build additional communication campaigns. Equipping clients at onboarding with this access enhances the experience later.

Self-service portals – Portals typically originate with your carrier partners and agency management platforms and select standalone solutions. Even when clients have simple requests for a copy of their policy or ID card, that exchange of data and frequency is collected and says a lot about how and when a client prefers to do business with you. Having the option linked to your website and providing the pathway to interact without you still encourages new data collection that enhances the moments when you engage personally.

Educational resources – As you set the client onto their path following the more structured onboarding phase, you may offer webinar series and check-in meetings that you want them to attend throughout the year. We have likely all participated in or run an online meeting and are familiar with the data collected. Chat history, FAQs, registration and attendee lists, percentage of time engaged on screen and the list goes on. This information helps you know with whom you should spend more time after the meeting.

Measuring loyalty: Ensuring continued satisfaction

Continual measurement of client satisfaction is vital to maintaining loyalty and fostering retention. Three key metrics used to gauge client satisfaction are Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).

CES measures the ease of interaction with your agency. CSAT gauges overall satisfaction with your services and NPS assesses the likelihood of your clients recommending your agency to others. The data derived from these metrics can be used to personalize subsequent interactions with clients, thereby strengthening the relationship and driving loyalty.

Technology supporting data capture specific to your client sentiment is fairly mature and rigid, following industry-agnostic standards that are fairly universal if you look outside of insurance. But you want to know if your efforts are worth the squeeze, especially when you believe the prospecting, onboarding and service phases are finally honed to your clients. Sentimentality regarding each phase and loyalty overall allow you to tweak your processes and approach, using data as the identifier.

Leveraging client data throughout the client journey, from the prospecting phase to policy renewal, can significantly enhance retention rates. When used correctly, data can provide valuable insights into client preferences, behaviors, and needs, enabling you to tailor your services accordingly.

In addition, technology can greatly assist in the collection, analysis and application of this data, making the process more efficient and effective. From CRM systems and marketing automation platforms to chat tools and rating platforms, technology can streamline every stage of the client journey, enhancing client satisfaction and loyalty.

It is important to remember that data and technology are tools to aid human interaction, not replace it. The personal touch remains a crucial aspect of the insurance industry, and it is the careful balance of data-driven insights, technology and human empathy that truly drives client retention. This blend of elements not only fosters retention but also provides opportunities to expand wallet share with clients, creating a thriving and sustainable insurance agency.