The weather was great and the programs just as good. I didn’t arrive at the convention in time to hear the presentation on the insurance issues involved in ride sharing, but was told that it covered many of the same issues as I have discussed in my previous blog posts about that subject. The Friday morning presentation by JoAnna Brandi was about how to turn current customers into loyal customers and thereby, increase an agency’s customer retention rate. In it she touched on another subject that I have addressed in a previous blog posts; the need for an agency to have engaged employees to create engaged customers who will stay with the agency. The Saturday morning presentation by Jeb Blount provided a good counterpoint to Ms. Brandi’s presentation, as it was about how to turn a prospect into a customer.
What struck me the most about both the Friday and Saturday morning presentations was their focus on the importance of emotion. For both speakers, creating the right emotional response in customers and potential customers was the most important factor in achieving the goal of obtaining a customer and then making that customer a loyal one, who will not choose another agency over yours, or having chosen your agency leave it, for a better price somewhere else. In her presentation, Ms. Brandi made the point that every interaction with a customer will create a emotional response, either positive or negative. In dealing with its customers, an agency should strive to create as many positive emotions as possible by doing the little things (remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and other events important to the customer), as well as the big things (handling a claim, getting needed coverage) in a way that at least meets, if not exceeds, the customer’s expectations. When this is done consistently, a positive emotional bank account is created that enables the customer to overlook any negative emotions that may occur as a result of their interaction with the agency. Proactively looking for ways to help the agency’s customers, providing solutions to their problems, and constantly asking for feedback on what can be done better are things that agencies can do to create positive emotions in their customers.
Mr. Blount’s presentation focused on what he called “Customer Experience Selling,” which he said was all about managing the emotions of the customer, as well as your own. He made the point that most people act on emotion and then use logic to justify their action. Thus, a producer should focus on the potential customer’s emotional needs first to establish a connection with the customer, which will make the customer more receptive to doing business with you. The most important thing a producer can do to create this connection is to listen to what the customer has to say and respond appropriately to those things that the customer identifies as being most important to them.
In “Customer Experience Selling”, the customer does most of the talking, at least initially, which is contrary to how many producers approach a potential customer. By really listening and responding appropriately to what the potential customer has to say, the producer will allow the customer to positively answer the five most important questions they have about any one trying to do business with them: Do I like you?, Do you listen to me?, Do you make me feel important?, Do you understand me and my problem?, and Do I trust and believe you? Once the potential customer is able to positively answer those five questions about you, they will be willing to buy insurance coverage from you, even if the price is more than what someone else may be able to offer.