NAIFA Central Florida Motivational Moments
“HAVE I GOTTA BEG TO BUY?”
THIRTEEN CUSTOMER SERVICE FACTS
Michael A. Aun, CSP, CPAE Hall of Fame Speaker
Excerpted From the Bestselling Book
“It’s the Customer, Stupid”
(John Wiley & Sons)
Why do people do business with a particular insurance company or a specific agent? In today’s highly competitive environment, your client has literally dozens of choices in most cases. Why choose you?
Moreover, why do they keep coming back? Over my nearly five decades of studying, I have uncovered three interesting things about motivating people.
1. YOU CAN’T MOTIVATE ANYONE TO BUY: You can’t motivate anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. People must be motivated on their own, or they do not buy. Period. Motivation is an internal thing, not an external thing.
2. ALL PEOPLE ARE MOTIVATED. Hold it…one minute you say people can’t be motivated and then you say all people are motivated. Which is it? People are motivated – many times negatively, but none the less, they are motivated. When they don’t buy, they are more motivated NOT to purchase. Make no mistake, they are motivated.
3. PEOPLE DO THINGS FOR THEIR REASONS, NOT FOR YOURS. The third thing I have learned is when they purchase our insurance products, it is for their reason, not because I need apps to make a trip or income to feed my family.
Our job is to be a problem solver. We should be grateful that our member’s have insurance problems for us to solve.
My informal research both as an agent and speaker indicates a variety of important “Customer Service Facts” about why clients buy from us and why they remain loyal to the people with whom they initially do business. Here are the thirteen of the facts.
Fact Number One
Dissatisfied customers tell an average of ten other people about their bad experience. Twelve percent tell up to twenty people.
In very simple terms, bad news spreads rather quickly. Don’t think for a moment that your poor performance in servicing your client goes unnoticed. Not only is it noticed, but you pay a very dear price for that kind of publicity.
Members companies are held to a higher standard, especially companies like my own, the Knights of Columbus. Bad news spreads through a council like wildfire. We don’t have the luxury of making errors or being pushy. Our reputation is on the line.
Fact Number Two
Satisfied customers will tell an average of five people about their positive experience.
Conversely, the good news, unfortunately, doesn’t spread so quickly. To the contrary, the bad news moves twice as quickly as the good. While clients do appreciate good service, they either don’t reward it quite as soon or they don’t reward it at all.
In most cases, clients have come to expect good service as “part of the deal.” While they do expect it, rarely do they get it. The “bum wrap” here is that the bad apples are causing problems for the whole bushel.
Fact Number Three
It costs five times more money to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Before you go out investing hundreds or even thousands of dollars chasing after new clients, think about the acres of diamonds in your own back yard.
The people that you’ve done business with previously thought enough of you at some point to buy from you. Why not go back and re-cultivate that relationship? It will cost you one-fifth of the cost of finding a new client.
Fact Number Four
If 20 customers are dissatisfied with your service, 19 won’t bother to tell you. Fourteen of the 20 will simply take their business elsewhere.
Most clients just don’t want the hassle of having to straighten a problem out. They know, that in many situations, it’s their word against the word of the company. Who needs the aggravation? They simply take their business somewhere else.
Unfortunately for the agent, they will end up losing the business and may not even know the reason why. That’s why it’s critical to do follow up surveys to check on your performance. Ask questions like:
-Were you satisfied with our service?
-If not, what can we do to improve?
-Had you been the sales/service person, what would you have done differently in this transaction?
-Why did you choose to do business with us?
-Is there any other way we can be of service to you?
Many will say, “By asking these questions, you are just opening yourself up for criticism.” Perhaps you are, but that is the intent of the questions…to find out what’s going wrong.
Always remember to separate the criticism of the performer and the performance. When the performance is under attack, there’s room for growth. When one attacks the performer, many times that criticism is “value judging” in nature. We should listen to those remarks but not support them. Usually they are not constructive in nature.
Fact Number Five
Up to 90% of dissatisfied clients will not buy from you again, and they won’t bother to tell you why.
Statistically speaking, you would be lucky if 10% of your unhappy clients would come back and do business with you again. Most clients become dissatisfied when the agent violates their trust.
“Trust, in any relationship, once violated, negates the relationship,” said the late, great John Savage, CLU. It takes a mighty forgiving customer to let you stick him or her twice. Honesty in any relationship is not conditional. Lincoln said you are either unconditionally honest or you are not honest at all.
Fact Number Six
Ninety six percent of dissatisfied clients do not complain of poor service.
They figure, “What’s the use? Nobody’s listening!” Maybe they’re not used to getting service after the sale. Many feel they are victims of a crime. The agent has their commission. Now he or she will simply ignore the plea of the client.
As an agent our responsibility is to return calls the same day in which a complaint comes.
When a sale is made, make it clear to the client that you welcome their input and that you would be disappointed if a problem exists of which you were not aware. This permits the clients to let you know that they are experiencing a problem.
Fact Number Seven
In many service industries, the quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition.
In the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, our members may be competing with scores of other similar companies that sell similar products.
In many cases, there’s not a nickels worth of difference between many of our products and services that you and your competition offer.
The only appreciable difference is in the service rendered by the agent and service people in our home office. For 99.9% of your clients, the SALES AND SERVICE PEOPLE are the company. Most of the time, they are the only people with whom the client will ever be in contact.
My father used to drive 35 miles in one direction to do business with a particular bank teller. If she were not on duty that day, he’d get back in his old pickup truck and head back home. SHE was the bank. You are the company, not the ABC life or whomever you represent.
Fact Number Eight
The first thirty seconds of a call or meeting sets the tone for the remainder of the contact. The last 30 seconds are critical to establishing last rapport.
You only get one opportunity to make a first impression…don’t screw it up! If you want to be accepted as a professional, you must look and act the part.
If you look and act shabby, you will be perceived as shabby. If you plant peas you get peas, not corn. People will expect of you what you expect of yourself: what you’ve invested in yourself. Smokers and people with hair on their face are less trusted, according to all the surveys. You can be the judge whether you wish to take those risks or not.
Fact Number Nine
Providing high quality service can save your business money.
The same skills that lead to increased client satisfaction also lead to increased employee productivity. You can kill two birds with one stone. The same things that make clients happy make your employees happy.
Best advice… insist that your employees put a big smile on their face and a mirror on their desks. People want to do business with winners. They want to do business with happy people. People don’t smile because they’re happy, they’re happy because they smile.
Fact Number Ten
Customers are willing to pay more to receive better service.
You remember…Marketing 101. What do you get when you have a high demand for something and an extremely low supply? The price goes up, of course. The price (in case of service) is the loyalty the member client has to you and your fraternal organization. If you provide good service, they pay you loyalty.
Loyalty means they will do business with you again. And remember, it only costs one-fifth as much to do business with an existing customer as it does to find a new one.
Fact Number Eleven
Ninety five percent of dissatisfied clients will become loyal clients again if their complaints are handled well and quickly.
Let’s face it; people don’t want to admit they made a mistake initially when they decided to do business with you.
Eighty percent of the decision to purchase is generally made on emotion. Only twenty percent is made on logic. But they use logic to justify their reason to do business with you.
They want to say to themselves that their decision was a right one, a logical one. They are more willing to forgive, if for no other reason than to ratify their initial decision to do business with you.
Fact Number Twelve
A good sale is GOOD SERVICE.
Part of every sale should be an extensive overview of the service you intend to render as part of the sale.
You should promise and do a periodic review of the client’s situation. You should deliver periodic reports on the progress of the contract. You should stay in touch with periodic “non-sales” visits designed to build good will with the customer.
In telling the client this in advance you prepare them for your eventual follow up contact. But you must follow up. Promise them a lot but deliver a little more!
We advise our agents to set up their next appointment for next periodic review when you conclude the current appointment. Become their insurance doctor and schedule routine annual visits.
Fact Number Thirteen
Good service leads to increased sales.
People love to talk about rare experiences, like getting good service from field agent. Work hard to earn their respect and they will repay you royally by telling their friends and associates.
It starts with good customer experience. After all, our clients are the lifeblood of our business.
I was on a program with Joe Girard, who is said to be the greatest automobile salesman in the world. Joe once told me that he sends out 13,000 pieces of mail every month to his clients. 13,000 per month! I asked, “What do you send?”
He responded, “What difference does it make? In January, ‘Happy New Year.’ In February, ‘Happy Valentines Day.’ In March, ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day.’ In April, ‘Happy IRS Day!’ It really does not matter what you send; you must stay in touch.”
He went on to say, “I actually have people send me change of address notices so they can continue to get my monthly cards!” That’s staying in touch.
Are you as committed to staying in touch with your clients as Joe Girard is to his clients?
Here are some tips for staying in touch with your members.
- Consider sending a monthly e-newsletter.
- Send policyowner reports with the client’s updated values on the anniversary date of the contracts along with a cover letter offering them information on other products you offer.
- Do a quarterly shotgun emailing to advise clients of your latest interest rates on your annuities.
- Do additional semi-annual e-mailings just before the big spring and fall Certificate of Deposit rollover months. Do it 30-60 days prior to the CD renewal month so the client will not get caught with their CD automatically rolling over because they forgot to pull it.
- Send birthday letters/cards to clients and their family members with no solicitation offer. One of my most successful field agents James P. McQuillan, FIC, LUTCF, who is retired now, had done this for years and that is why his was in the Million Dollar Round Table.
- Consider sending Thanksgiving letters instead of Christmas greetings. Christmas greetings get lost in the bundle. Consider sending Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and other festive day greetings instead or in addition to Christmas greetings.
The key is you must educate your clients. With call-blocking, caller-identification, voice mail and other gatekeeper issues looming large today, the US Mail is the last best way to get your message in front of a client.
Remember, your clients should not have to beg to buy from you… so don’t make them!