We work in a unique industry – one in which insurance agents are like toasters. Let me explain …
Everyone owns and uses at least one small appliance at home. It may be a toaster, a garage door opener or a microwave oven. No doubt it's something we use every day. And yet, we can not recall the brand name of the appliance. We all know what it looks like and how it works, but generally can not remember who the manufacturer is … until it breaks. When it breaks, we check to see what brand of "widget" it is and whether repair or replacement is covered. We decide whether we want to purchase the same brand or try a different brand altogether. It takes a problem to draw our attention to the brand – and until that time, since we are not really aware of the brand we're using, one brand is as good as another ! Insurance agents are essentially like toasters. We're generally not thought of by policyholders until something breaks – that is, until there's a claim.
Once there's a claim, we have the ability to really shine. We're responsive and concerned. We work to expedite things and look out for our policyholder's interests. We end up creating more of a relationship with our clients. When there's a claim, we get the opportunity to really shine in the eyes of the policyholder. The problem arises when everything is going well!
When all is well and there are not any claims (which is most of the time), we are not thought of. And when we are not thought of, our clients are easily persuaded to consider using another agent or finding a better rate. The real challenge with keeping clients is not mishandling a claim. It's being faceless. The danger lies in being a nameless toaster.
How do you avoid the misfortune of being forgotten? Let me share a lesson I learned many years ago when I was working to succeed as a small business consultant. I have a pretty strong business background and I knew I could help most any small business in any area they needed help with – finance, marketing, systems, personnel, etc. I marketed to businesses far and wide – businesses in various industries and of various sizes. I was open to any assignment I could attract. After all, I could not afford to turn any opportunity away. I worked hard at developing my consulting practice, but never achieved more than mediocre results. After a few years of struggling, I ended up moving on to other things (read that as, "I had to get a job."). Just after accepting an executive position with a company, I gained an important marketing insight. Here is the insight I got:
If you're not known for something, you're not known for anything.
I had been a toaster. People hard thought of me. They rarely referred others to me. Only a small number of them chose to give …