The famed author Thomas Merton said we value people, not for whom they are but for their usefulness. This is the same mistake many agents and advisors make with clients. They value them for their usefulness—for what they spend.
The clients, of course, 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 agents do a fairly good job “pleasing” clients—assessing needs, recommending coverage, getting the policy issued correctly and delivering it on time. But that bar isn’t nearly high enough. Here are 20 ways to meet today’s major challenge of making clients feel valued:
- Never leave clients 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.
- Ask clients 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.
- Never let the size of the sale influence the way you treat a client. When making a large purchase, clients expect the “red carpet” to be rolled out. But when a client gets the same attention making a small purchase, it creates a lasting positive impression, one that keeps them coming back.
- Always follow up right now. Fast action is impressive; it says you care.
- Never ask a client 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.
- 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 client.
- Give clients a contact person.There’s nothing worse than feeling abandoned and that’s what happens to clients when they can’t penetrate a corporate firewall. Having a personal connection relieves stress.
- Never fail to acknowledge a client 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.
- 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.
- Always ask questions. There is no substitute for getting another person to talk. Clients will be surprised and impressed because they’re always afraid no one will listen.
- Give believable answers when you’re asked questions. Short answers satisfy clients, but always ask if what you said is clear.
- Never leave a client wondering. The test comes after the client leaves or you get back to the office. That’s when they get to thinking about what you said—and when the questions come to mind. Always encourage them to call, email, or text you.
- Be precise when you tell a client you’ll get back to them. Let them know when they can expect to hear from you, and, if there’s a change, keep them informed. It’s a matter of trust.
- When there’s a problem, take ownership. Now the client can relax and not worry about what might go wrong. They know someone will follow through for them.
- Acknowledge purchase anniversaries. Shows your appreciation and keeps you top of mind. Like acknowledging birthdays, sending a personalized letter or email is a good reason to reach out and could lead to additional sales opportunities.
- Check in with clients a week after making a purchase. Make it a time to ask if they have questions or concerns and what they like best about their new coverage. They’ll appreciate your continued interest; that you haven’t forgotten them.
- Use the one word that reassures clients. When they ask you to do something, say, “Sure.” Then figure out what to do—and do it.
- Help clients avoid “buyer’s remorse.” They always want to feel good about their purchases. Yet, feelings of uncertainty often set in and they doubt their decision. To help them avoid getting “cold feet,” remind them why they bought the policy, what they liked most about it and share third party testimonials to validate their decision. Reinforce its value: “This will provide you with peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be taken care of,” or “You’ve made a terrific choice.”
- Always say “Thank you.” Every conversation is an opportunity to express appreciation for them being a client, whether it’s responding to a problem or issue, providing a quote or a recommendation.
- Stay in touch. Getting clients is hard work; keeping then is even more demanding. Send periodic emails, but don’t make them ads! “Buy, buy, buy” drives them away. Offer helpful information and be sure to ask their opinion of a product, service, or customer experience.
Most agencies want to do the right thing by their customers. Yet, far too many fall short, believing that giving them a good deal or schmoozing them is all it takes. It isn’t.
More from John Graham:
- Present your way to the top: 7 rules for building confidence
- The ‘no sale’ signals: Why prospects won’t buy from you
- Why prospecting fails and what to do about it
John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at [email protected], 617-774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.