I fired my insurance agent recently. This agent did nothing inherently bad and his office clerk was always friendly if I called. He just never did anything other than write my insurance policies and send me annual premium notices. He never called to thank me for my business, opting instead for a form letter only at renewal time. And, this is a small insurance office in a small town, not some mega-insurance business with hundreds of clients!
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I called one Wednesday afternoon just minutes past noon to inquire about getting a new umbrella policy. I received a phone recording stating that the agency office always closed at noon on Wednesday but would reopen at 9 a.m. on Thursday. There was no answering service to channel my call should this have been an insurance emergency. So, I considered sending an e-mail. I Googled the agency name only to find they had no website; there was no e-mail address on any of their correspondence. If this were 1950 such practices might have made more sense.
My new insurance agent (from the same insurance carrier, mind you) is always available—24-7. In our first conversation he took a quick look at my five policies—home, two cars, a boat, and a valuables policy—and informed me that the homeowners policy I had was an old one and he could provide me a newer policy with better features and a 40% reduction in my premium. He also indicated that my boat policy was based on the purchase price and had depreciated by 30%, dictating lower coverage and a lower premium. Then, he backed up his words with a detailed e-mail. I wondered why my previous agent never bothered to shift me to these better offerings. Maybe he was busy out getting new clients while letting his old ones sneak away to a competitor.
Today’s customers expect value for their hard-earned income. That value not only applies to a policy or premium, it applies to their experience. But the wakeup call is this: an okay, pretty good, “nothing special” client experience is now a negative. Some go on your website right after visiting Amazon.com or Zappos.com. They now expect an around-the-clock, easily-accessible, super-friendly experience. When they fail to get the value they expect, they exit.
The other contemporary truth is that when today’s clients fail to get the value they expect, they do more than just close their relationship like I did, they also tell others directly or indirectly through social media. Word of “mouse” (or touchpad) has five times the reach of word of mouth. “In the physical world,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, “an unhappy customer tells six people; in the cyber world they tell six thousand.”
Given that client acquisition costs are many times greater than client retention costs, failing to invest in your current clients is downright foolish. Are you showing your clients perpetual TLC or do they only get your indifference? In today’s highly competitive world, indifferent service is no longer considered by customers to be a neutral or just plain vanilla. Their expectations for great value have put “ho hum service” in the “bad service” category. Take your clients for granted and they will be vulnerable to the Siren’s call of the competitor nearby.