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Opinion: How to improve customer experience beyond surveys

Competitive Advantage

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Insurance is competitive. It can be hard to stay afloat in such a saturated field, let alone find an advantage over your competition.

Lead generation is essential, but any agency can duplicate your efforts, and it gets exponentially more expensive with scale. Is there a more sustainable method of achieving long-term growth and competitive advantage? The answer is surprisingly simple and yet almost universally ignored.

Intentional experience
A concept centered on customer experiences is rapidly growing in the business world. You can improve client satisfaction, loyalty, reviews and referrals by designing and managing the way clients experience your products and services. The results largely drive the client experience trend, aka CX.

Companies engaged in CX practices report increased market share, decreased operational costs, improved customer retention, higher customer satisfaction and lower customer acquisition costs, according to findings from separate studies. CX has such a great track record because it takes the focus off of you and your company and places it where it belongs – on your customers.

Competitive advantage
CX is heralded by those who embrace its principles as the only sustainable competitive advantage. Products, prices and features can all be duplicated by competitors. Most marketing tactics can be reverse-engineered and replicated.

But understanding your clients and adjusting your communications, processes, offerings, etc., to provide an experience that consistently meets their needs in a way they expect and value? That’s not cookie cutter. You can’t reverse engineer that. The advantage is in your ability to deliver value as defined by the customer, rather than hoping the customer finds your service valuable. Let’s unpack that.

What is value?
Value is an ambiguous concept. People are willing to pay more for what they perceive as more valuable, and people will keep valuable services longer. Value in business generally equates to more money, but what exactly is value? It’s a relative concept that may differ from person to person.

With anything as subjective as value, you have to find out from each person what is valuable to them. You may find, as many companies do these days, that time is of immeasurable value to your clients. Perhaps value is a better understanding of their insurance policy and how it would look to file a claim. Maybe it’s valuable to hear from an agent once a month, so they know they’re not forgotten.

Sometimes people don’t know exactly what they want but can feel an absence of value. The better you understand your clients, the better you can fill in the gaps between what they feel and what they want.

Seek to understand
There are many ways to achieve a better understanding of your clients and what they value. Surveys are a common choice, usually taking the form of the Net Promoter Score, Client Satisfaction or Client Effort Score.

I find the best way to understand someone is to spend time with them. Identify clients that generate the most revenue and treat them to lunch. Ask them about their thoughts, emotions, perceptions and expectations when doing business with you. What do they love? What do they hate? How could you do better? Do this with the top 20 percent of your clients, and you’ll get a good feel for processes, services or messaging that need to be changed.

If you have employees, ask them what questions or complaints they hear most often from clients. The feedback of your front-line employees can provide insight into the values of your clients that you won’t hear anywhere else.

If you understand what people value in their insurance experience, you can adjust your messaging and business practices to deliver more of that. As an agent, if you’re seen as more valuable, you will have a better shot at retaining clients longer and keeping them happier. Your clients are more likely to show loyalty to your brand. Loyal clients tend to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. In the end, more people get the insurance they need and you get their business. Everybody wins.

Understanding your clients and what they need, what they expect and what they want, can allow you to please them more consistently and to provide a client experience that competitors can’t replicate.

Ryan Baker is the founder of growth strategy firm Kingly Consulting LLC. He can be reached at ryan@kinglyconsulting.com.

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