“Happy Birthday… if you received a special gift on your special day, call us so we can make sure it is protected!” This is the message I received from my personal insurance account manager on my birthday. From my experience in the industry, I know this was a canned message from an automation tool. How thoughtful of my agency to keep track of information and use it in such a manner to let me know they are considerate of my life’s events and are there to ensure I’m insured.
Automated touchpoints are tremendously valuable beyond sales and can be far more engaging than birthday messages. When set up and used correctly, automating customer communications can be incredibly time-saving, multiply your workforce, enhance your E&O safeguards, improve brand awareness, and, best of all, increase the likelihood of repeat business and referrals.
A client touchpoint is any point in the relationship with the client in which they contact you, or it makes sense for you to contact them. One of the first steps in deliberately establishing an automated touchpoint strategy is identifying what touchpoints make sense for your agency. Some obvious examples:
- New client “Thank you”
- “It’s time for renewal”
- “Happy Holiday”
A robust strategy is more than the basic suggestions above. Be hyper-aware of what your customers are focused on. What are their goals, challenges, and milestones? What impacts their success? East coast customers facing hurricane season, commercial clients entering peak season for their industry, or age triggers that initiate a youthful driver tip campaign are examples of ways you can engage and connect in creative and meaningful ways. The goal isn’t always to sell anything or be self-serving. If you make the goal to care, your name will be top of mind when they need someone who does.
Even though these automated touchpoints shouldn’t be sales-focused, they can provide an E&O safety net. Insurance is all about understanding risk. If we don’t know about it, we can’t insure it. Simple messaging that accompanies new policies reminding the client to review the coverages and communicate changes can absolve the agency if a claim is made. When identifying your touchpoints and crafting your messages, if it makes sense, include questions or reminders to keep you abreast of investments, upgrades, additions, etc. Not only will the client get a lovely reminder you’re present in their life/business, but it also transfers the risk to the customer.
Branding is integral to every aspect of your business and paramount in any automated client touchpoint. Your brand is what separates you from the competition and when it comes to automation, what sets you apart from a machine. Visuals, tone of voice, word choice, and formatting of your automation are critical to ensuring you are communicating like a human rather than a computer-automated process. Many automation services provide templates for standard communication. I encourage you to take inspiration from these but don’t simply copy/paste. Repurpose wording that makes sense, but weave your own flavor into your templates, ensuring your message represents your agency’s mission.
Today’s technology providers for our industry encourage automation in as many ways as possible. It is what will sustain our industry as we hurtle towards a future where business demands we do more with less. However, automation should not be a replacement for human interaction, but rather enhance the relationship that exists. Agencies must prioritize client touches to maintain and nurture relationships. The most cost-effective way to maximize those client touchpoints is to allow technology to assist! There are ringless voicemail vendors that provide the ability to leave hundreds of voice messages instantly. Electronic payment providers that automate payment reminders. Texting, website chatbots, email marketing platforms, and even vendors who can send handwritten letters on your behalf! These choices can be overwhelming but choosing the right provider that works seamlessly with your agency’s data is essential in establishing effective automated touchpoints.
Even though the technology is present and prevalent, implementation is murky and wrought with pitfalls. Your data must be accessible and tidy. You cannot personalize a message if your first name fields are sloppy. If your dates are not exportable from your management system, you cannot wish someone a “Happy Birthday.” Setting the right triggers for the right messaging at the right time is an art form that requires the most meticulous of artists. You need people on your team that safeguard your data and understands the cascading impact bad data has on integrated systems. Security can be an issue too. Leveraging external vendors is necessary to do this effectively, but the more vendors you integrate with, the more exposure your database has to external vulnerabilities.
What is liberating to keep in mind is automating client touchpoints isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor. There are so many ways you can leverage technology to bridge communication gaps, and they can be a la carte. There are a plethora of vendors who provide a variety of services, many of which allow for tiers of commitment. You can start by incorporating a few automated email messages and then slowly add activities like internal follow-up task assignments, handwritten letters, website chat, direct mail, and more (or less).
If you are still uneasy about taking those first steps into automating client touchpoints? Let your guides at Angela Adams Consulting get you moving in the right direction. We can help you strategize your approach to branding, client relationships and leverage the right technology in the best ways to achieve your agency’s goals.