After closing a sale, you might think your job is done but not yet! Following up with clients is a critical part of being a successful Medicare sales agent. If you’re not currently doing it, now’s the time to start.
By not following up with Medicare clients, you could be losing potential business. More importantly, checking in with clients can show them that you care if they’re happy with their plans. Concerned about staying within the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG)? Don’t worry — we’ll cover how to remain compliant so you never find yourself in hot water with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The Importance of Following Up
The best agents know their success is largely based on effective interactions with clients. You don’t want to give off the impression that you’re only in this line of work for the commissions. By making a habit of following up with clients, you can create a reputable name for yourself as an agent. Also, it tells current clients you’re dedicated to helping ensure their happiness and care if they’re satisfied with their plans.
By making a habit of following up with clients, you can create a reputable name for yourself as an agent.
The main reason to check in with your clients is to see if they’re happy with their current coverage or if there is an unforeseen change that would make their current plan not suitable for them. If they aren’t satisfied, you can help them switch to a different plan. The last thing you want is for another agent to swoop in and steal your business if your client goes elsewhere looking for a plan. Let your clients know that you’re sorry they’re unsatisfied and will do your best to find them a plan that’s a better fit.
When Should You Check In?
You might be wondering when you should follow up with your clients. When is it too soon — or worse, too late — to reach out?
A great way to accommodate clients and make sure you don’t forget about them after they’ve enrolled in a plan is to schedule a follow-up appointment with them at the initial appointment. That way, you’ll both have it marked in your calendars. However, if your client would rather wait to schedule another appointment, you can still make a note in your calendar to check in with them in a few weeks. In general, we think a good rule of thumb to follow is the 3-30-60-90-day approach. This practice has you follow up with clients after three, 30, 60, and 90 days.
The first two follow-ups on day three and day 30 should be mostly to see if your client has any immediate needs. You can start off by thanking them for enrolling in the plan and giving them a brief overview of what to expect during the first couple weeks of their enrollment. It’s likely they haven’t utilized their plan yet, so see if they have any questions about the plan before they go to the doctor or use it for other medical needs, such as their Medicare wellness visit. During the next call on day 60, you can let them know of the benefits their plan offers, such as a nurse line or fitness programs like SilverSneakers or Silver&Fit. On day 90, remind them that they can reach out to you with any questions any time!
Best Practices for Following Up with Medicare Clients
Remember, every client is different, as is their Medicare plan, which means you can’t follow the same exact script for every follow-up call or email. During follow-ups, it’s important to let your client lead the conversation and make sure all their questions get answered. Do your best to communicate effectively with your clients and try not to sound robotic!
In the same light, it’s also crucial for you to be prompt and genuine, but not bothersome. If you tell your client you’ll follow up in a month, make sure you follow up in month. Also, it’s OK to leave a voicemail or two, but don’t harp on your clients to call you back. If they need you, they’ll let you know. It’s imperative that you follow through with your commitments to keep your clients happy. They’ll see that you’re organized and that you keep your word, which is a credible reputation to have! Being an insurance agent isn’t only about finding plans for your clients. Part of your job is providing clients with superb customer service to ensure their satisfaction and keep them coming back to you in the future.
It’s OK to leave a voicemail or two, but don’t harp on your clients to call you back. If they need you, they’ll let you know.
If, during your phone calls with your clients, they indicate they’re happy and satisfied with their coverage, great! You did a good job finding them plans that fit their needs and you can give yourself a pat on the back. However, just because they’re happy on day 30 doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll still be satisfied come day 60. If your client lets you know that they’re unsatisfied with their coverage, help them change their plan to one that’s a better fit for them.
Keep Your Clients Happy While Staying Compliant
It’s very possible that some of your current clients may not be happy with their coverage and would like your help to change it. Prior to 2019, there were limited options for making a switch once a beneficiary is enrolled in a MA plan. Starting in 2019, Medicare beneficiaries now have an option to change a plan known as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP). There are some prohibitions of OEP marketing. Because of this, it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of following up during the Medicare Advantage OEP, which takes place from January 1 to March 31 for individuals enrolled in a MA plan as of January 1 to make a one-time change.
There is also an OEP for new Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in an MA plan during their Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP). For these new MA enrollees, they have an MA OEP to make a one-time change. The OEP for new Medicare beneficiaries begins the month of their entitlement to Part A and Part B and ends on the last day of the third month of entitlement. There are several stipulations and marketing rules for the OEP, but don’t let these deter you from helping and following up with your clients.
During the OEP, beneficiaries can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. They can also pick up a stand-alone Part D plan (if needed) and a Medicare Supplement plan. As an agent, your goal is to enroll a beneficiary in a plan that is most suitable to their needs. Therefore, at the time of their original enrollment, you may not use OEP as an enticement or selling point to encourage enrollment. You can certainly advise your client to notify you should their situation change following the enrollment. You can and should also check in with your clients after enrollment to ensure they’re satisfied. However, in relation to follow-ups and the OEP, you cannot send beneficiaries unsolicited communications about the OEP or their ability to make any additional changes to their coverage. Instead, you can start with a simple follow-up email or call to see how they’re doing (without mentioning changing plans).
When it comes to follow-ups, the best way to stay legal is to let your client be the one to express dissatisfaction and suggest meeting to change plans. At this point, you may discuss all the election periods in which your client can change plans, such as the OEP or a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), if your client qualifies. Examples of clients outwardly expressing dissatisfaction can include but are not limited to:
- “I don’t really like this HMO plan I chose. Am I allowed to pick a different plan?”
- “Do I have to keep this plan until the next Annual Enrollment Period?”
- “Can you please tell me about the other plans in my area?”
- “My doctors are no longer in the provider network.”
When it comes to follow-ups, the best way to stay legal is to let your client be the one to express dissatisfaction and suggest meeting to change plans.
If you have questions about what you can and can’t do at follow-ups or during the MA OEP, reach out to the team at Ritter Insurance Marketing. Ritter’s knowledgeable staff members can explain all the rules and would be happy to help!
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Being afraid of CMS regulations isn’t a good excuse to not follow up with your clients. Following up can build client loyalty and boost your business. Check in with your clients from time to time and do your due diligence to keep them satisfied. They will thank you — and probably recommend you to their family and friends due to your great customer service — in the long run!