Communicating effectively with your clients is what drives client retention. In today’s day and age, communicating can go far beyond a sit-down conversation.

Even in times when your client can’t see you, it’s important to still convey your message with positivity and professionalism. The more effectively you do this, the more likely your clients are to choose you again in the future.

If you haven’t read part one of this series, check out Keys to Client Retention: Face-to-Face Communication.

Talking on the Phone

As an insurance agent, there will be many times when you’ll speak with clients via phone call, perhaps to set up an appointment or answer some questions they have regarding plans.

Whenever you’re speaking with a client, but especially when talking over the phone, it’s important for you to enunciate clearly. Don’t do it so much so that you’re being condescending or insulting your client’s understanding, but enough that you’re both on the same page. It could be very frustrating for your client if they have to keep asking you to repeat yourself, or worse, can’t make out what you’re saying in your voicemail.

By the same right, if your client says something that you don’t quite catch, you should absolutely ask for clarification. It’s much better to ask than to guess or assume and end up being incorrect.

It’s also important that you’re prepared for any phone call as much as you can be. Sometimes calls may be unexpected, but do your best to stay on top of your game! If you can, have notes and information on hand so you don’t have to make a client wait while you sift through papers and try to answer their question. Additionally, while notes are often helpful, don’t read from them like a script. Sound sincere — but not like a robot — when conversing with your client.

While notes are often helpful, don’t read from them like a script. Sound sincere — but not like a robot — when conversing with your client.

Furthermore, never multitask when on the phone with a beneficiary. If you’re simultaneously folding laundry or making dinner, your client may be able to tell that you’re not fully invested in the conversation. Limit distractions and completely devote yourself to your client’s call.

Finally, it may seem obvious, but remember the person on the other end has no non-verbal cues (like nodding, shaking your head, or smiling). Because of this, all of your communication must be verbal and clear. But just because you’re on the phone doesn’t mean your attitude or presentation should be any different than in person. In fact, some studies report that smiling while on the phone can actually help you sound more pleasant. Your client will be able to tell the difference in vocal intonation when you are smiling versus when you aren’t. Come across as congenial, but not fake or over the top.

A positive or negative phone experience can make or break your sale. One study even found that satisfied customers tell about nine people how happy they are, whereas dissatisfied customers tell an average of 16 people about their poor experiences. If you want to grow your client retention rates, it’s in your best interest to make sure your beneficiaries are pleased with your service!

Note: According to the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines, you’re not permitted to make unsolicited phone calls to clients to market Medicare Advantage or Part D plans.

Contacting via Email

Email is also a very practical way to get in touch with your clients. However, there are some situations when email is appropriate and times when it is not.

If the client emails you first and their question warrants a quick, easy answer, go ahead and respond. Or if you have a quick question for them or want to reach out about plans, that is fine, too.

You should not contact your client by email if the topic of discussion is long and complex or contains any information that should be kept confidential.

You should not contact your client by email if the topic of discussion is long and complex.

When you do email your clients, be sure to be as clear and succinct as possible. Format your email professionally with a salutation and a closing. Proofread your email thoroughly, and preferably more than once. You can also ask your clients during your first meeting if they prefer emails or phone calls.

Composing emails with professionalism and accuracy can go a long way when it comes to client retention. It will also reflect positively on you if you get back to them in a timely manner. Even if you consider yourself to be a productive, successful agent, an email that has been haphazardly thrown together, contains typos, or in any other way appears unprofessional can result in the loss of a sale — and possibly the permanent loss of a customer. Keep your email game strong to keep your customers coming back!

Utilizing Social Media

Like the demeanor in your emails, your online presence must also be professional. You may be surprised to know that Medicare-age individuals are quite active online and on social media. In fact, more than two-thirds of seniors go online and even own smartphones, and the stats are continuing to grow. About 34 percent of seniors reported using social networking sites in late 2016, which is an increase of 27 percent from 2013.

If you do interact with potential clients online, it’s important to never treat a like, follow, or comment as Permission to Contact (PTC). However, it is compliant to respond to a question or comment on a public social media forum. Just note that you should not address them beyond the scope of the question or statement.

As always, timeliness is important! If you do choose to have a Twitter or Facebook page that your clients can use to contact you, make sure you check it regularly. When you do respond, use a positive and understanding tone in your writing. Social media can make interactions quick and convenient, but don’t let grammar or the quality of your response fall to the wayside.

If you’re a little leery of using social media to interact with clients, we’ve compiled a social media eBook with everything you need to know about the topic! It covers how to get started, why you should implement social media strategies, how to stay compliant, and even how to create quality content.

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How well you communicate with your clients can make a huge difference in your rates of client retention. Agents who are diligent, express themselves clearly, and have a thorough understanding of how to utilize the digital world to interact with beneficiaries will see clients coming back again and again. Make sure your communication skills are up to par (and beyond!) if you want to be a successful insurance agent.