Introduction

Your agency's NPS® (ranging from -100 to 100) is a direct representation of the saturation of loyal clients versus not-so-loyal clients. When your NPS goes up, you can expect higher retention and more recommendations.

Rocket Referrals introduced the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) to insurance agents over seven years ago. Since that time, we've examined feedback from millions of people to learn why they are happy with their insurance agent and why people are upset or feel disconnected from their agent. Based on the feedback, and after studying best practices from agents all over the U.S., here are the most important things you can do to increase your NPS and the number of clients willing to recommend you.

Tip #1:

Talk with your detractors

When clients respond with a 0-6 on the NPS survey, they are detractors and have a high probability of turning over. As an insurance agent, by identifying these detractors and reaching out to them, you significantly increase the chances of retaining them at renewal.

Your NPS platform should alert you when a client responds to a survey as a detractor so you can follow up with them right away. No matter why the client responded as a detractor, here are steps you should take:

Contact them soon

The agency owner or agent responsible for the account should call every detractor within 2-3 days of responding to the NPS survey. If they don't pick up, leave a voicemail and email them.

Appreciate their honesty

Thank them for responding to the NPS survey tell them you appreciate their honest feedback. This helps the client feel comfortable during the discussion.

Address their concern

Say you intend to address any concerns they have and to work to make things better. Don't tell them you want to "earn" a high score—instead, forget about the survey and focus on their specific issues.

Follow through

Address their specific issue or implement processes to prevent the problem from happening again. Make sure that you also follow up with the client on your resolution.

Examples of how to follow up with detractors:

  • You forgot to remove my ex-husband from my policy.
    The client is referencing a specific incident that the agent can address by calling them. The agent should also follow through by ensuring client calls and messages don't slip through the cracks in the future.

  • You're too expensive.
    Some agents feel powerless to prevent their clients from complaining about price, because they don't control the rates. The truth is, clients are much more tolerant of price increases when they're expected. When calling detractors that mention price, explain why the rates increased and ensure them you will continue looking for better rates. Follow up by updating them on rate changes in the future.

  • We never hear from you.
    Clients respond this way when they expected to hear from their agent more. Calling the client lets them know you will work to fix the issue and is a great starting point. Follow through by implanting better proactive communication in your agency.

  • When they don't give a comment.
    If the client doesn't provide a reason for their negative score, it's your goal to figure out why they are upset. After thanking them for their honesty, ask them if they can give you some insight into why they scored as they did.

Impact calling has on retention

Identifying and following up with detractors makes an insurance agency more profitable by increasing overall client retention. We measured the impact calling a detractor has on the likelihood of retaining them at renewal and found that when an agent calls a detractor within 48 hours of receiving the NPS response, they increase the likelihood of retaining them at renewal by 55%.

On average, an agency has 11% detractors when they first implement the NPS. By connecting with just half of these detractors, the agency could increase its annual premiums by 1.7% within one year and by over 3% after two years.

Not all detractors will respond to the NPS survey, so you will likely be unable to call and address their concerns. It's crucial to focus on long term strategies that improve the client experience to prevent detractors from ever existing.

Should you call passives?

Yes. This is an important group on the verge of becoming promoters or detractors. Most passives are not actively shopping for insurance elsewhere, but they are susceptible to being wooed by a competitor. Although passives aren't upset per se, they're also not loyal. After receiving a passive response, you should make a note to call them soon. Ask how you can improve and then follow up with your commitments.

Overall, an agency's goal should be to improve the client experience and nudge passives to become promoters, rather than end up as detractors. The good news is, passives can easily be turned into happy and referring clients if the agency starts communicating with them regularly and in a meaningful way.

Tip #2:

Pay attention to trends

When you call a detractor, you are reacting to feedback from a single client. To get a complete picture of what your clients think about your agency, you must look for trends within all of your NPS feedback.

Monitor your agency's NPS

Your agency's NPS shows you how loyal your clients are. When making efforts to increase your NPS, you can measure success by tracking your score over time. Comparing your NPS with other insurance agencies will also give you a better perspective on how well you're doing overall and perhaps motivate you to get better. A little competition always helps move things along. It's also useful to look at NPS scores across different employees and segments of your client base.

Group client feedback

If implemented correctly, the NPS will ask clients to leave written feedback in addition to their score. The feedback provides additional context so you can learn why clients are rating you as they are. Much of this feedback will become written testimonials for the agency to share on its website. But some of the feedback will also be negative or neutral—and therefore offer useful information that you can use to avoid issues in the future.

You can group feedback either manually or with automation (like we do at Rocket Referrals). The manual process consists of reading each NPS comment when it comes in and assigning it a category.

We've picked these categories because they've shown in our data to be key factors that influence your NPS and customer loyalty overall.

  • Proactive Communication: The agent either does or does not communicate proactively, such as yearly checkups, birthday cards, notifying of changes in policy and is in or not in regular contact.
    Example: "I never hear from you. I would have expected better communication." Or, "Thank you for always keeping me updated."

  • Responsiveness: The agent either does or does not respond to requests from the customer, such as calling back, quickly answering emails, etc.
    Example: "Whenever I email you, it takes several weeks to hear back, if at all." Or, "You always get back to me right away."

  • Price: The client is either happy or upset with the cost of their insurance product(s).
    Example: "My premium goes up every year, and I have no idea why. Too expensive." Or, "You were able to get me much better rates than anywhere else."

  • Value: The value of the product was either really good or bad.
    Example: "The policy I have is not worth it. I've seen offers for better coverage elsewhere." Or, "Your coverage is much better for what I'm paying than what I expected."

  • Location: The customer is either in a good location or bad location to the agent either too far away or just right for their needs.
    Example: "You're too far away to consider referring you to others." Or, "I love that you're just down the street from me, it helps to have someone local."

  • Knowledge: The person comments on useful guidance and experience the agency provides.
    Example: "You can never answer my questions and continue to give me the runaround." Or, "You're always giving me good advice, even when I don't ask for it."

  • Accuracy: The agent/company has made too many mistakes, or they always get things right.
    Example: "You botched my claim on several occasions, I just don't trust you'll get it right." Or, "I never have to worry that you'll get things done right."

  • Attitude: Whether the agency is positive and uplifting, or negative and rude.
    Example: "Whenever I call, you seem to be frustrated with someone and are short with me." Or, "Whenever I call, you seem to be in a good mood, it always puts a smile on my face."

  • Service: The client talks about the service of the agency without giving specifics.
    Example: "I never feel like I get decent service." Or only, "Great service."

  • Support: The client feels like the agent is or is not actively looking out for them and willing to assist when needed.
    Example: "I get no support from you. I'm always sent to someone else." Or, "Whenever I have a question, you're right there willing to help."

  • Product Choice: The availability or lack of various insurance products.
    Example: "I wish you had more variety on the insurance you offer." Or, "No matter the situation, it seems like you have what I need."

  • Product Effectiveness: How protected the client feels with the insurance they have through the agency.
    Example: "I recently filed a claim and the coverage was not nearly as good as I had hoped for." Or, "The policies you offer are comprehensive. I was taken care of following hail damage on my house last year."

Group data

After you assign individual client NPS feedback into specific categories, you can begin to organize the data and look for trends. If performing this task manually, Excel will work to display the data visually.

Here are a couple ways to organize the data to provide useful insight into how to strengthen client loyalty.

How happy (or unhappy) clients are when they mention specific themes.

Here is one example of how you can represent the data. It shows that of all clients who mention price in their feedback, 73.4% of them are promoters and thus have positive things to say about their insurance costs. The remaining 26.6% comments that mention price come from passives and detractors. Add the total number of responses for each theme. Divide the number of promoters, passives and detractors inside each theme by the total number of responses for each theme.

How often clients mention specific themes

The chart below displays the percentage of NPS feedback that mentions a specific theme across all comments from agencies. This view shows the overall frequency of responses based on each category, so agencies can learn what is most important to their clients. In the example below, clients mention price in 10% of all feedback provided—representing 8.3% of all promoter comments, 21.2% of all passive comments and 22.9% of all detractor comments.

Add up the total number of responses across all themes. To view what themes have the most promoters, passives and detractors: Divide the number of promoters, passives and detractors inside each theme by the total number of responses across all themes.
To view how often specific themes are mentioned overall: Divide the total number of responses for each theme by the total number of responses across all themes.

More advanced segmentation

Although there is a lot to be learned by breaking NPS data down by the written feedback, agents can also draw important insights by looking into the data points behind client feedback alone. After all, a client may not always say exactly why they're upset—or maybe they're unsure themselves why. Looking at NPS scores across different data points, though, allows you to draw connections that may have been overlooked. This will answer these types of questions:

  • Do you have a rude employee who accounts for all your detractors related to your agency's attitude?
  • Are clients with a particular carrier generally more unhappy than with other carriers?
  • Is there a specific policy type that your clients are happier with than another?
  • Does one agent come across as more knowledgeable than the others in the agency?

This requires looking into the profile of clients responding to NPS surveys. We recommend grouping on the following data points.

  • Providers – The insurance carrier that underwrites their policies.
  • Product types – Different policy types (e.g. auto, home, life).
  • Agent – The agent that handles the account.

You can then 'slice and dice' the data in different ways to uncover clues that lead to the underlying causes of your clients being happy or unhappy.

Here's an example of how you can see the data broken down with a dashboard available at Rocket Referrals.

Take action and monitor results

You can collect and analyze all the data in the world, but it won't do you a lick of good unless you use it. After you receive enough NPS feedback to start forming trends, you should start thinking about how you're going to take proactive steps to increase your NPS:

  1. Prevent detractors and passives from popping up in the future.
  2. Create more promoters and keep them happy.

The remaining steps in this guide outline the most effective ways of preventing detractors and creating promoters, based on data and best practices across thousands of agencies.

Tip #3:

Respond to clients

About 15% of detractors say they're upset because their agent didn't get back to them. Putting better processes in place can prevent a significant portion of detractors. Here are some ways to do it.

Develop a strong onboarding process with new clients

Provide clients with easy and clear instructions on how to reach you if they have an issue or question in the future. Make the client feel comfortable reaching out when they need something.

Make it easy to find you online

Many people default to using Google to search for your agency if they need to reach you for something, so ensure your contact details are correct online—especially on Google My Business, Facebook and your website.

Improve internal processes for following up with client requests

Use a consistent approach that everyone follows and has personal accountability to ensure it happens. It also helps to implement better ways of communicating inside your agency (e.g., Slack, Google Hangouts)—which helps keep things from falling through the cracks.

Implement text messaging

Agents should be reachable by text message. Most people are comfortable with texting these days, and it's the preferred way to communicate for many. But it's best to keep business-related texts organized and separate from personal ones. Rather than carrying around two phones, look for an app that can host your agency-related messages. It's best to use a unique number for each agent, so the client feels like they have a direct line of communication. Some agents prefer webchat over texting because it's traditionally easier to manage. But webchat is too impersonal for most agencies when it comes to maintaining contact with existing clients.

Tip #4:

Relationship-focused communication

Nearly 30% of detractor comments mention that they don't hear from the agency enough. Lack of meaningful communication is the most significant contributing factor to clients becoming upset. Agencies need to take proactive steps to improve communication and make the client feel special.

Many agents believe their clients stick with them primarily because of the excellent service they provide. Staying for great service alone is usually not the case. Direct carriers can also offer excellent service with huge investments in technology and AI. But direct carriers don't know their clients personally as agents do. Personal connections are the real advantage—the relationship you can form with your clients. Although service plays a significant role, research shows that it's the relationship that matters most.

The warm and fuzzy feeling clients get when they sign up often fades over time. When they don't hear from you, they forget how personable you were and begin to feel disconnected. This is especially so when they only hear from you to ask for something, like a referral or to buy more coverage.

It's essential to show the client that—as their agent—you care about them for more than a renewal commission. It's these interactions that are going to make the relationship last. A more meaningful relationship is essential today as people are looking for more personal and human connections in an increasingly digital and socially distant world.

Keep in mind that direct carriers are working hard to chip away at the market share of insurance agents. A major pillar of their strategy is to commodify insurance—by turning the discussion away from guidance and relationships (where they are weaker) and moving it to price (their competitive advantage). Direct carriers want people to feel like the only real difference between buying insurance from an agent, and them is their price.

Some agents feel like the service they provide clients is enough to retain them and be deserving of referrals. If a client files a claim, they have a real person available to walk through the process with them. At renewal, someone usually asks them whether the coverage is still sufficient. But what about all that time between claims and renewals?

It easy now for insurance agents to connect with their clients in a meaningful way.

Step one: Commit to investing in client relationships

Often the things that provide the most value also require the most effort. Investing in stronger client relationships leads to higher retention and more recommendations—but it also requires a focused long-term effort to work. As an agent, if you want to improve your client base's overall loyalty, you'll need to commit to a strategy over time that focuses on making clients feel more personally connected with you and your agency.

Step two: Contact clients personally several times per year without mentioning insurance

Imagine the expression "I wanted to reach out personally" having meaning. The client needs to feel like you, as their agent, took the time to reflect on, and reach out to them personally. Mass email campaigns just don't work here. Your communication doesn't feel personal if the recipients know the same thing was sent to hundreds of other people. Some ways you can reach people individually:

  • Email or text
    Send a simple check-in email or text several times a year, asking how they're doing but not mentioning insurance.

  • Phone
    Call clients to check-in, just to see how things are going without bringing up their policies. Consider segmenting clients by revenue and going down the list over several months.

  • Handwritten cards
    Personalized, handwritten cards show the client you invested time personally into the relationship. The best occasions to mail cards are non-insurance related life events. For example, those that arrive on their birthday or near a holiday.

The message

Keep with the cardinal rule, which is not to bring up insurance. If the client ends up having a question about their policy, by all means, respond. But the point is not to intentionally use this as an opportunity to renew or sell a new policy. It's like the feeling you get when someone reaches out "just because."

As an example, imagine receiving a birthday card with the message:

"Happy Birthday! Another trip around the sun is a great thing to celebrate! It's also an important time to consider changes in insurance coverage. Give us a call soon."

Or instead, receiving this message:

"Happy Birthday! We hope your next trip around the sun is a great one! We'll be right there with ya!"

The first message pretty much cancels out the birthday card. It's like saying, "Happy birthday, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to sell you some more insurance, so give me a call."

The second message reinforces nothing other than the agency's commitment to have their back while also wishing them a happy birthday. This type of message will have a much more lasting impact on the relationship, ultimately leading to selling more in the future.

Tip #5:

Keep adding value

Clients need to feel like your agency is providing value professionally. Giving them the guidance they need, but not just with claims or during renewal time. As their agent, you should be the expert on all things insurance. Rather than keeping all this information to yourself, make sure your clients get it.

Like before, they need to feel like you're looking out for them. In uncertain times, we lean on experts to provide us with guidance, help and reassurance. When it comes to insurance, that's your strong suit. These are your best differentiators over direct providers.

Newsletters no longer work

The answer for some insurance agents is to send newsletters to their clients with well-intentioned content. Having read through many newsletters, we know that most content covers broad insurance issues: stuff the agent believes is useful to clients of all shapes and sizes. Sure, there were some creative spins on topics, but it was much of the same. After clients read a handful of these newsletters, they usually pass on subsequent ones.

If not newsletters, then what? How could an agent communicate with a large and diverse group of clients and still make it feel personal and relevant?

Periodically send relevant content

People enjoy reading something their agent picked out for them individually, instead of skimming a newsletter sent to hundreds. It also means a heck-of-a-lot more to the client when you took the time to make sure they're informed on a topic related to their life.

Individually connecting with clients can still be automated. You can do this by sending personalized, relevant content to clients segmented by policy types, demographics and renewal dates. First, search online for some of the best blog posts, articles and videos you think your clients would enjoy. Then send each client you need to connect with a link along with your take on the subject.

Clients understand that most agents aren't copywriters. As long as the content is relevant, they don't mind if you didn't write it yourself. They also appreciate your opinion on the subject, which reinforces your position as an expert.

Instead of typing out a newsletter, spend time curating relevant articles and education that benefit your clients. The more specific the information, the bigger the impact. We recommend sending three to four articles to clients every year. Sending content at this pace will:

  • Keep the agency top-of-mind - Throughout the year, reaching out to clients reminds them that their agent has their back (not just collecting the renewal payment).

  • Provide ongoing guidance – An insurance agent is supposed to be an ongoing advisor for their clients. Move the conversation away from "how much money my agent can save me" to "how much useful guidance my agent provides."

  • Inspire cross-sales - A well-positioned article could help inform clients of the initial need for a product or service and make it clear that their agent offers it. For example: Emailing an article to a client with a young family that tells her the best time to buy life insurance. Include a note:
    "Hi, Jennifer! I'm always on the lookout for articles that can help clients, and I came across this one about life insurance that I think might be useful for you and your family. Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions after reading this, I'm here to help."

Tip #6:

Make NPS a focus for employees

Increasing your agency's NPS requires effort beyond just the top. Though having success does start from the top down. It's important to get your entire team involved to increase your score. Having high client loyalty depends on all arms of your agency working well together for a common initiative.

Set agency-wide goals

Make increasing your NPS something your agency openly works toward together and set specific goals to improve. Start by setting smaller goals, like increasing your score by 2 - 3 points. Move on to larger goals like reaching number one across all agencies! It's important to celebrate after each goal is reached, at least by recognizing the achievement and showing appreciation for the effort.

Outline specific tactics

It's important to have a broad goal in terms of how much you want to increase your NPS—but you also need a plan to reach that goal. Start by outlining how you intend to improve client loyalty, and then set specific benchmarks for your team in order to increase your NPS. For example, set a goal of—over the next couple months—cutting in half the number of detractors that complain about not getting a return phone call. Each of these smaller goals will ultimately allow you to reach your agency-wide goal of increasing your NPS.

Show an agency NPS leaderboard

When employees can see how they are doing compared to others, they're more likely to improve. A leaderboard encourages competition, and a healthy game centered around client experience is always a good thing.

It's also just as important to see how your agency ranks among others. As agents become more aware of NPS and read and implement these tips, their scores and client experience will improve. What you thought was a decent score a year ago might need some improvement this year. Check out our NPS scale to see where your score ranks amongst other agencies today.

We can make NPS work for you.
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