With specialized industries, only agents who go above and beyond will find they have satisfied, long-lasting clients.
In today's competitive environment, the importance of retaining clients and maintaining strong relationships is paramount, particularly for independent agents working with clients in specialized industries.
Client retention often seems deceptively simple: Quality work equals satisfied clients. However, with specialized industries, only agents who go above and beyond will find they have satisfied, long-lasting clients.
Here are four important but sometimes overlooked ways to go the extra mile in specialized industries:
1) Build quality carrier relationships. In niche industries, it is important to understand which carriers will write the coverages your clients need. For example, within the managed health care niche there are limited carriers that write errors & omissions coverage.
Since the carrier pickings are often slim in specialized markets, having a managing general agent (MGA) partner with deep industry experience and partnerships with large carriers can be a tremendous help for agents looking to forge new or strengthen existing client relationships.
2) Understand their industry. Working with clients in a specialized industry requires the agent to understand their clients' business and understand what keeps them up at night. It's essential to read up on the trends specific to the industry, attend industry-focused conferences with your clients and keep strong relationships with carriers to get their industry perspective.
From the client's perspective, when you understand the claim activity carriers are experiencing and how market conditions are shaping the industry, it adds a personal touch to the relationship that the client will remember.
3) Manage expectations. No one likes to receive or deliver bad news. However, managing expectations and setting realistic goals can help soften the blow when the news is not good. Provide fact-based information to help clients understand the reason behind any changes.
Additionally, provide ample time to allow clients to absorb significant changes. Clients appreciate having the time to digest, prepare and ask questions in advance.
4) Communicate regularly. A good relationship extends beyond the client and agent bond. In today's increasingly virtual world, meeting face to face, in person or via video conference helps strengthen relationships. Proactive communication can also prompt a conversation about coverage needs that have developed since your last discussion.
Maintaining clients in select industries may require additional steps to understand their business and the carriers available. Fortunately, with proactive communications and a strong understanding of the client's needs, independent agents can form strong, long-lasting relationships.
Kerry Stetz is the president of Chatham Insurance Services (CIS), an independent management liability insurance program manager serving the managed care industry. She can be reached at 860-498-0716.