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The Art of Customer Retention, Part 2

By May 11, 2021May 25th, 2021Agency Management Moments

Customer retention is key. What’s the difference between customer service and customer experience? Why is that difference critical to the success of your business? Speaker and author Joey Coleman explains the difference and outlines the eight stages of a customer’s journey and where and how you can lose a new customer within the first 100 days. Don’t miss this very informative conclusion to Charlie’s discussion with Joey Coleman. Find Part 1 of this conversation here.

Joey Coleman's idea of straight A's for an insurance agent

Edwin K. Morris (3s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. This week, you’re listening to the special segment of Charlie’s corner hosted by our very own Charlie Venus.

Charlie Venus (20s):
Welcome back, Joey, let’s jump straight into the discussion, The customer experience. So that’s a good segue into getting you to define number one, what the customer experience is. And then to briefly talk about the eight phases of the customer experience.

Joey Coleman (36s):
Yes, absolutely. Well, the problem as I see it, Charlie, is customer experience is often interchanged with the phrase customer service people use the words thinking they mean the same thing. I think they actually mean two very different things. Customer service is the assistant or the advice that’s provided by a company to people who buy or use its products or services. Customer experience is how customers perceive their interactions with your company. So while service is more of a reactive state, Oh, somethings gone wrong, or Oh I need an explanation or, Oh, I need to file a claim. Customer experience is more of a proactive activity. How do I feel? Or what do I think about this person?

Joey Coleman (1m 18s):
How comforted and comfortable am I with the relationship? So when we think about the umbrella that is customer experience, it covers every interaction that we have with a customer planned and unplanned online and offline, you know, in person and via email or via a technology tool. Right? So We, it gives us kind of an umbrella to operate in. Now you asked about the eight phases of the customer journey. I believe that there are eight steps that every customer has the potential to go through, but won’t go through, unless you hold their hand and navigate them from one to the next. Now what I’d love to do, Charlie is I’m going to firehose this version because there’s a lot of them, they all start with the letter, a all right, with the idea, being that if you get all of them, right, it’s like getting straight A’s on your report card you’re doing really good.

Joey Coleman (2m 7s):
Your customer’s thrilled with you, right? So they all start with a I’ll go through each one and then we can dive into any you’d like to go into further. The first one phase one is the assess phase. This is when a prospective customer is considering whether or not they wanna do business with you. Okay? In common parlance, this is your marketing and sales. Okay. This is the stuff that a Marcus Sheridan and Ian Altman, who I know have been a former guest on the podcast can help you with, right? This is figuring out how to get someone’s attention, how to get them, to consider you and how to get them, to make the decision, to make a purchase, which takes us to phase to the admit phase. This is day one of the first hundred days. You know, we talked about how quickly customers leave. This is when the clock starts at the admit phase day one.

Joey Coleman (2m 49s):
This was when a prospect acknowledges that they have a problem or a need, that they believe you can help them with. They sign on the dotted line. They hand over their hard earned cash. They formally begin a relationship with you as they transition from prospect to customer. Now, almost as quickly as you leave the room, whether that’s the living room or hang up the phone, they go to phase three, the affirm phase, where they begin to doubt the decision that they just made in common parlance. We refer to this as buyer’s remorse. All the research shows that every sale produces some amount of buyer’s remorse in the brain. As the dopamine, excitement of getting the new relationship started, begins to fade. And those feelings of joy and excitement and euphoria are replaced by feelings of and doubt and uncertainty.

Joey Coleman (3m 32s):
Pro-tip the higher the bill for the greater, the buyer’s remorse. So when you write a bigger policy, the danger is actually greater. We then go to phase four of the activate phase. This is the first real moment of truth. Okay. Now Insurance, there’s always the question. Well, Joey, where does the activate phase apply here? Because what’s the real moment of truth is that when I make a claim, well, if that’s the case, it may be years before we get to the activate phase. No, I think the activate phase is that formal beginning. When you let the customer know your fully covered you’re policy is in place, you are protected, you are safe.

Joey Coleman (4m 13s):
This is the first real moment of truth. And in this moment, we want to energize the relationship. We want to let the customer know that doing business with us is unlike any business experience they’ve ever had. Let alone in the insurance industry. I mean, any experience they’ve ever had in their life, in any category, we want to set ourselves apart to really activate this in a beautiful way. We then come to phase five, the acclimate phase, Okay. Pro tip. This is where most businesses start to fall off the rails. This is the quiet period between when they’ve signed up and there are policies in affect. And maybe that 10 or 11 months later, when you were going to come in and have a renewal conversation, right? During the acclimate period, you need to help the customer get familiar with your way of doing business.

Joey Coleman (4m 57s):
Now, some people might be saying, but Joey, there’s nothing to do. They’re signed up, they’ve done their paperwork. We’re good to go. Well, what kind of communications are you having with them to let them know how things do operate? Maybe it would be worth exploring and this is, I know of a novel concept for many insurance agents, but what about going through a mock claim proceeding with them to show them how to file a claim so that when they actually have a situation, they’re not thinking, Oh my gosh, where do I even begin? What about doing it? When we’ve avoided the emotional stakes of an actual claim scenario, and we actually can walk them through the process or show them how easy it would be.

Joey Coleman (5m 38s):
Something to consider in that acclimate phase. You want to hold their hand and to help them acclimate to your way of doing business. We then come to phase six, the accomplish phase. This is when the customer achieves the goal they had when they originally decided to do business with you. Now here’s the kicker. Most insurance agents, they believe that they accomplished phase is that the customer now feels that they’re protected. They have coverage. They, they got their policy. So they have accomplished their goal. No, no, no, no, no friends. The reality is most people when they get signed up for Insurance, their definition in the accomplished phase is when I find myself in a claim type scenario is my claim going to be processed effectively and efficiently. And am I going to get the kind of compensation or pay out that I need to be able to continue my life going forward.

Joey Coleman (6m 21s):
The real freight train for an insurance agent is it may be years before you actually hit the accomplished phase. So what you want to do is make sure you’re defining what they accomplished phase is, and may be figuring out many milestones along the way that allow your customers to feel that sense of accomplishment. We then come to a phase seven is the adopt phase when a customer becomes loyal to you and only you think of this as them basically being committed. They’re not going to look at other Agents. They’re not going to look at other carriers. They’re going to take your advice. They see you truly as a trusted advisor. And then we come to phase eight the advocate phase. When a customer becomes a raving fan, singing your praises far and wide. This is when they are making referrals.

Joey Coleman (7m 2s):
This is when there are re-upping for a new policies. This was when they are bringing friends and family alike to come and do business with you. This is the Holy grail that everybody’s striving for. The problem is most agents want to go from phase one to phase eight in about a week and a half. They don’t wanna go through this stuff. So we get all of the policy signed up there like, Hey, so I know that you’ve got your policy set up. Could you introduce me to your neighbor down the road? And, what about your brother? What about your cousin? Let me get some other policies writing here. And it’s like friends. You’ve got to go through all eight phases. You can’t just immediately jump to the referral advocate phase and expect anything to happen. Because most of the agents I talked to when they go and they ask for referrals, they don’t actually get as many as they were hoping to.

Joey Coleman (7m 44s):
And yet I haven’t met an agent on the planet yet. Who said, Joey, I am good. I don’t want any more referrals, no more referrals for me. I’m all set. The problem is we either don’t ask, we ask it the wrong way, or we ask it the wrong time. That’s why most agents don’t get referrals or at least as many referrals as they would like

Charlie Venus (8m 6s):
In that acclimate phase. Is that, would that be the, the, the area where you think the most work needs to be done from an agency standpoint,

Joey Coleman (8m 14s):
Sweeping stereotype approaching Charlie. But in my experience, the two phases that become the biggest issues in the insurance industry are the affirm phase that buyer’s remorse, where what we do to address that is nothing were just quiet. We don’t even acknowledge that they might be doubting it. And we presume, well, it’ll all sort itself out because they are going to start getting paperwork. They are going to start getting policy coverage, example, you know, documentation. They’re going to feel great when they get the welcome kit. No, they’re not. Did you feel great when you looked at the welcome kit? Probably not. What would you have to do to put in the welcome kit to actually make it a remarkable experience? So that affirm stage and to your point, the acclimate stage, your absolutely right.

Joey Coleman (8m 55s):
And the problem is in a typical acclimate stage, we’ve decided to let somebody else handle the acclimating. We’ve handed it off to a team member. We’ve handed it off to our support crew. Here’s the challenge with that. I’m not saying you don’t have good support people, although some of you listening are going, yeah, I can see why that would be bad because they are not as good as me. That’s a whole separate conversation on employee experience in hiring better teams. But if you feel that your support team truly is superlative, they are exemplary. They are amazing. How is your customer supposed to know that they never met these people? He didn’t bring him to the meetings.

Joey Coleman (9m 35s):
They haven’t sat in on any of the phone calls, suddenly just getting introduced one day and it’s like, Sally will be taken care of you from now on good luck. I fell in love with Charlie. I didn’t fall in love with Sally. I expected Charlie to be taken care of things. So now Sally is going to be taking care of things. Wait a second. It’s not that Sally is a bad person it’s that we are two or three date’s in. And you’ve introduced me to someone new. That’s supposed to manage the dating relationships we have going forward. Great.

Charlie Venus (9m 59s):
Cause you see it? And we have a lot of agents and brokers, you know, the, you have the producer, that’s making the sale. And then after that sales complete, they’ll meet with the customer and say, well, here’s the car. This is the person you contact for your day to day needs. And, and part of the problem is that that person may be very good, but they may not necessarily know all the issues you’re solving for that customer or who have committed to solve for that customer that may never be relayed to that person.

Joey Coleman (10m 34s):
Absolutely. And here’s the crazy thing, Charlie, and I appreciate your, your disclaimer of that may or may not be a related to that person, lets all speak a little more bluntly. It is highly unlikely that it’s going to be related to that person. Why? Well, I can take it. Let’s pretend that you’re the agent and Sally in our example is the support person and you and Sally both come to a meeting with me where I’m explaining what I’m dealing with and what my issues are and what I’m hoping. And I’m hearing promises from you and do to do. And you leave that meeting when you and Sally talk about what were the biggest things that mattered to Joey? What were the things he wanted to do?

Joey Coleman (11m 14s):
What are the things that were most important to him? Do a little experiment, go do that. You’ll find that you and Sally, you have different answers. Even if you are both in the same room, even if you were both taking the same notes, paying attention to the exact same conversation. How do I know this? Why I used to be a criminal defense lawyer? This is witness statements. You get witness statements, a five people who saw a car accident. You will get five completely different stories as to what happened. This is the human condition. So imagine how that situation is exacerbated. When Sally isn’t even invited to the meeting, when Sally doesn’t have anything other than your notes in the CRM and let’s be candid. If you’re an old school agent, you don’t believe in these high finagled old CRMs, you just have you’re way of doing business.

Joey Coleman (11m 57s):
So don’t tell me how to put my stuff in a system. Don’t tell me my business or if your a hot or a top performer. You’re like, I don’t have time to be writing all this stuff down. I got to go close some new clients. I’m keeping it all in my head. So we’ve got behaviors that are happening organizationally that are actually proving the point of the Customer. Not feeling that their messaging is being handed off. Here’s the thing, its like the Olympics. Have you ever watched it in the Olympics track and field? The relay races were the handoff the Baton. Yes. And what happens if they drop the Baton? Well, if you haven’t, what happens when the Baton has dropped in the Olympics is your disqualified.

Joey Coleman (12m 38s):
You can’t stop and pick the Baton up and keep running. You can’t apologize and have a little meeting and take them to dinner and everything is good. And we’ve got the Baton and rod you’re disqualified. That’s how the typical customer feels about a handoff to someone new in your organization. If it’s not smooth, if it’s not effective, if they don’t feel caught by that other person in the same way that the Baton feels caught into the hand of the new person, who’s responsible for it. They fall on the ground in, in their mind, they have disqualified you from doing business in the future. And remember how this all happens in the first a hundred days. Oh yeah. When’s to the handoff in your business. My gut instinct is its actually the first 30 days in the typical listeners business.

Joey Coleman (13m 20s):
So the moral of this story is this acclimate phase. This handoff needs to be much more conscious. It needs to be about ensuring that the person feels heard, taken care of and that all of the things they told you have not only been transmitted to the new person who is going to be responsible for managing the relationship, but that that person is taking it to the next level that they have an even deeper understanding. Then the sales agent did.

Charlie Venus (13m 45s):
How many opportunities does an agency have to recover when they screw up for a lack of better terms.

Joey Coleman (13m 54s):
Yeah, no it’s, it’s a, it’s a great question. Charlie. You know, here’s the thing. I liken this stuff to what the doctors tell me about broken bones. Okay. I’m not a medical professional nor do I play one on TV. So this is not medical advice, but it’s my understanding that when a bone breaks in the human body and it heals as a general rule, if it set properly and it’s given the proper time to heal, it actually comes back even stronger than it was before see most businesses are afraid that if we’ve made a mistake, all bets are off. All hope is lost. We can’t get back to where we were. The reality is if you handle a mistake properly, you can turn your mistakes into your marketing.

Joey Coleman (14m 37s):
My buddy [name], and I have a presentation that we give that’s called carpe defect, how to seize the mistakes, how to take the mistakes and turn them into something positive. And the whole premise behind this idea is when something goes wrong, it actually gives you the opportunity to show that Customer how you’ll fix the problem, how you’ll handle the crisis situation. And in many situations, those relationships that have been tested in the fire have actually been forged to be stronger than they were prior to that, let’s put it this way. There are several businesses I know that build into their process, minor hick ups that they then can fix to strengthen the relationship.

Joey Coleman (15m 22s):
Now I’m not suggesting that anybody listening should do that. But what I am saying is we shouldn’t run away and think that a bad situation is unrecoverable. If you bring the right energy and the right attitude and the right emphasis to it, you can actually make that relationship even better.

Charlie Venus (15m 39s):
But Joey, we were running out at a time. So what is your parting thought?

Joey Coleman (15m 45s):
My parting thought would be This. Let, let’s give a parting general thought and a partying tactic that I think can really move the dial in your business here this year. So the parting thought is it really does come down to the H to H model the human to human connection. I know that everybody who’s listening is busy. I know you’ve got a thousand things on your plate. I know that you’re trying to hit quarterly goals and annual goals. I know you’re trying to keep your lights on. I know you’re trying to keep your business driving forward. I know you’re responding to claims and you’re dealing with all kinds of issues. I would love it if, and here’s the tactic you started to carve out a little time every week for customer love.

Joey Coleman (16m 30s):
And here’s what I mean by that. Looking at your existing customer base, not your prospects, that’s a separate meeting. It’s a separate time. It’s a separate appointment on your calendar. I’m talking about a block of, let’s say an hour on your calendar every week or, if you can’t do an hour and a half hour where you focus on showing the love to your existing customers, that could be writing a handwritten thank you notes that could be shooting a little selfie video on your phone and texting it to them. That could be dropping something by at their home or at their office. That’s just a little gift or a little present that says, Hey, I was thinking of you. I saw this. And it made me think of you. And by the way, it should not be a mug with your logo on it or a pen with your logo on it. That’s not a gift or a present.

Joey Coleman (17m 10s):
That’s a, chotsky, it’s a marketing tool or a promotional swag. I am not opposed to those, but let’s stop pretending that their gifts drop off a little something that says I was thinking about you, even though you don’t have a claim, I was thinking about you, even though it’s not time for renewal, let them see that you actually do care and that you care all the time. Not just in the times where we’ve got a high stress or high intensity. If you do that for a month, just a month of, you know, half hour, an hour a week, you’ll start to see things change just in a month. If you do it for year, it will change how you approach your business for the rest of your life.

Joey Coleman (17m 54s):
And if you get everybody in your organization to do it, it will change your industry. That’s what’s possible and available. If you’re willing to give it to try.

Charlie Venus (18m 5s):
Thank you, Joey. This has been great.

Joey Coleman (18m 6s):
Thanks Charlie. I appreciate it. And thanks to everybody for listening. Good luck getting out there and creating a remarkable experiences on the first hundred days and beyond. I know you’ve got it in. You know, I know the folks that listen to this podcast are the kind of people who can help take Insurance to the next level, who can help take the relationships between Agents and ensured to the next level. And I so appreciate your time listening and your kind of invitation to have me on the show. Charlie, thanks again.

Edwin K. Morris (18m 31s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of Charlie’s corner brought to you by Iroquois Group. I am Edwin K Morris, and I invite you to join us for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.

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