Having been in the business of referrals for several years now I can tell you with certainty – there are no hacks to getting more positive recommendations for your insurance agency. I wish there were (and trust me we’ve tried just about everything), but when it comes to insurance, shortcuts to referrals just don’t exist.
What makes this such an interesting topic is that every agent loves to get referrals – so they are always thinking of ways to get more. Yet the harder they try, the more elusive referrals seem to get. Asking your clients flat out for them is about as effective as kicking and flailing in quicksand, but not taking a proactive approach is just as fruitless. So, what to do?
The first step is understanding why it is people refer their friends and family to you in the first place. Only then can you implement a consistent strategy that specifically targets those reasons. The bottom line is that people refer others to your agency because they want to help their loved ones and they trust you will take care of them. Too often I’ve seen insurance agencies implement incentive-based referrals programs that fall flat on their face. Again, this is because they aren’t putting in place a strategy that’s in line with the reasons whypeople refer to begin with.
The good news is that there is a strategy you can put in place that will steadily increase client referrals andretention. It all comes down to finding ways of increasing client loyalty. Collaboratively, client loyalty is referrals, retention, and renewals.
At Rocket Referrals we have had the privilege of evaluating client loyalty across hundreds of agencies over several years. We gathered thousands of survey responses from clients specifically indicating why they refer an agency to others. At the same time we have collected feedback from disgruntled clients with reasons why they would not refer.
The data pointed to the importance of one specific area: regular and meaningful communication from the agency. The positive testimonials we collected overwhelmingly reference how the agent is in regular contact and genuinely cares about them. There is no perceived indifference by the client. They believe the agent is always working for them behind the scenes and is proactively looking after their best interests.
The negative responses pointed to the same area, but on the other side of the spectrum. Our data showed that 62% of clients were unlikely to refer an agency because there was a lack of regular communication or the agent never returned phone calls.
It is important to note that there is a distinct difference between client satisfaction and client loyalty. Your clients may be satisfied when you handle a claim, or process a renewal. But this does not make them loyal. The loyalty comes by bridging the gap of onboarding, claims, and renewals with meaningful communication. This is the integral component to gaining more referrals and increasing retention. Understandably, insurance agents do not have the time or resources to call each client every couple of months to check in. We have found that these three simple touch points go a long way to increasing loyalty: 1) Send periodic Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys 2) Ask for testimonials 3) Send personalized loyalty cards NPS Surveys are the quickest and most effective metric to gauge client loyalty. They are excellent at identifying promoters and uncovering detractors. They show clients that the agency cares about what they think of them. This survey should be sent to each client every 4-6 months. Asking for testimonials strengthens the bond between loyal clients and the insurance agency. After they make the commitment to promote a business to others it becomes part of their self-image. When asked to further show their commitment they will be far more likely to do so – rather than conflicting with this shared belief and developing a dissonant state. Loyalty cards are a simple way for insurance agencies to let existing clients know they still care about them. Handwritten and unexpected cards fill the communication void agencies have with between claims or renewals. These three touch points are great starting point for increasing client loyalty – and with it referrals and retention. Keep in mind that to be effective any strategy needs to be done consistently and over time to get the best results. Carl Maerz is cofounder of Rocket Referrals, a software company founded in Des Moines, Iowa, that offers an automated solution aimed at helping insurance agents grow their agency through referrals, retention, and reviews. Carl leverages his background in psychology to generate content sent via Rocket Referrals on behalf of agents proven to drive greater referral business. Before Rocket Referrals Carl worked for two international software companies in sales and marketing and also served as an officer in the US Army Engineer Corps.