Vol: 44 Issue: 2 | Aug 2021
Being an insurance broker is more than selling products; the key to building and maintaining relationships with clients is ongoing, concise and clear communication.
We asked Nick Ainsworth, account manager, private clients & commercial at Willis Towers Watson, and Steven Hill, a director with Capital Innovation Insurance Group, for their best-practice tips for communicating with clients at the time of renewals.
1. MAKE THE FIRST CONTACT
‘Reaching out before you are chased is a hugely powerful tool that takes nothing more than a calendar reminder and sets the tone for the whole renewal process,’ says Nick Ainsworth. It helps your clients feel that their time and business is important to you and puts you on the front foot with any potential difficulties.
2. USE CLEAR AND CONCISE LANGUAGE
‘Don’t use 10 words if six will do,’ says Steven Hill, who encourages brokers to adopt language that is clear and straight to the point when communicating with clients. Communicating clearly around the time of renewals means bringing the client along on the journey with you and signposting the process.
‘Signposting is letting them know what is coming up ahead for them, but also letting them know what you’ve done,’ says Hill. ‘How many markets have you been to? How many variations have you tried? What responses have you got from all of them?’
The insurance landscape is littered with jargon and abbreviations that can be confusing and alienating to clients. Using concise, familiar language allows everyone to be on the same page from the beginning and will make the process more efficient in the long run.
3. TAKE AMBIGUITY OUT OF THE EQUATION
‘Ambiguity or, at worst, guessing in communications helps nobody, especially the broker,’ says Ainsworth. ‘If you do not know the answer to a specific query, a colleague will.’
Taking the time to research, review and double-check will help gain the confidence of your clients.
‘Confirming every single instruction in writing will also remove the dreaded ambiguity and provides a clear history for all parties of decisions made over the life of the policy,’ adds Ainsworth.
4. FOLLOW UP AND FOLLOW THROUGH
Think carefully before promising a deadline, suggests Ainsworth. No matter how innocuous the promised communication, your client will expect you to deliver — and so they should.
‘Once you’ve had the difficult or hard market / rates / capacity conversation, you can then focus on the job at hand,’ he says. ‘Remember Scotty from Star Trek only gained his reputation as a miracle worker by under promising and over delivering!’
Follow up when the client hasn’t responded — it’s not a chance to set and forget. And follow through with the promises you’ve made.
5. BUILD ONGOING RELATIONSHIPS
Don’t wait for renewal time to prompt a call or email to your clients. ‘We all need to move away from transactional relationships — business won on premium one year can easily disappear the next for the same reason,’ says Ainsworth.
He encourages brokers to build a relationship with clients so that they aren’t competing with other companies on price alone.
‘Premiums are a big factor in almost every client’s mind, but we should try to tip the scale by showcasing the benefits clients can gain from our experience, not just that we open doors to a market with an admission price.’