Increasing your agency’s NPS® will result in more promoters, and therefore more opportunities for positive recommendations. But it’s up to you to make sure your clients follow through with these recommendations. Here are some ways to inspire clients to make an effort to refer you, and a few ideas for collecting referrals beyond traditional word of mouth.
Show your promoters appreciation
When a client is willing to refer you to others, they don't always speak up and tell their friends and family to give you a call. This type of referral usually occurs naturally in discussions when the opportunity presents itself. For example, when someone complains about how bad their direct provider has been, a friend responds with, "Yeah, well, my agent is awesome, you should give them a call." You want to increase the chances that your clients will step up and refer you in these situations. Create these moments by giving your clients more things to talk about with others.
Send loyalty cards
Agents have a lot of success with sending handwritten loyalty cards to their promoters. Loyalty cards give clients an unexpected and positive experience to share with friends and family. The card front usually says "you're the best". Inside is a handwritten message where the agent is checking in and thanking them for being their client. This selfless act goes a long way to inspire clients to refer you.
Take time each week to call some of your promoters. Check-in on them and be sure to show appreciation for the relationship. Don't make it a sales call but be prepared for cross-sale opportunities when they present themselves. Promoters are often willing to buy more coverage.
Thank your clients when they refer
When a client refers a friend to you, it's important to show gratitude and reassure them that you will take care of their friend. People who refer others are more likely to do so again—if they feel appreciated, and the person they referred is well taken care of. The more personal and thoughtful the thank you, the bigger impact it will have on inspiring more referrals down the line.
We've found that clients respond very positively to handwritten thank you cards. They appreciate the time and energy you put into thanking them personally. Make sure to get the message right inside the card. The client should feel foremost that your focus is on taking care of their friends and family. It's okay to include a small gift as a thank you but don't position it as a quid pro quo. Instead, it's a simple way of saying, "thanks for thinking of me."
Reviews and testimonials
Your promoters are willing to recommend you, but they may not have someone in mind to refer. These clients can instead provide their referral publicly in the form of an online review. Today, upwards of 90% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, online recommendations are nearly as effective as traditional referrals, yet they reach a much broader audience.
By asking the client to write a review or testimonial, they can share their story right away, and it will remain visible to whoever cares to listen. People searching for insurance are more likely to turn to the internet than their friends for a recommendation. Especially today, when most of us use online search to shop locally.
The overall impact of collecting reviews depends on when, how and where the agent requests them. You can ask clients for reviews, but do so in a way that encourages authentic responses so the feedback feels natural to the reader. Instead of collecting a bunch all at once, spread them out across multiple review sites and over time to maximize their impact.
Testimonials are different than reviews as they are collected directly from the agency. When implemented the right way, about half of promoters who respond to the NPS survey will provide a written testimonial, resulting in hundreds or thousands of testimonials you can share.
Testimonials provide value to an agent by offering social proof, increasing client retention, boosting agency morale, and inspiring personal recommendations.
We recommend publishing testimonials on your website and sharing them on your social media accounts. Ensure that you're always keeping them fresh, so visitors see the newest comments from your promoters.
Testimonials displayed publicly on an agency's website have the added benefit of providing social proof. When prospects look for insurance online, they begin—like with anything else—by using a search engine (e.g., Google). This search is considered the discovery phase when making an important buying decision.
A recent study conducted by the SEO company BrightLocal looked into how people choose local businesses online. When asked the "typical next step after reading an online review" for a local business, more than half of all respondents said they continued to the company website—by far the number one answer. If the survey focused specifically on professional services (e.g., insurance agencies, dentists), even more people would have indicated that they visit the company website as a next step.
Purchasing insurance is a more critical decision than, say, ordering pizza. It requires further investigation, and the agency's website is where that happens. Online reviews are most helpful at getting agencies discovered online, but testimonials are best at persuading web visitors to contact the agency. Visiting a website is similar to the second interview when applying for a job. Online reviews get the agency's foot in the door; testimonials help seal the deal.
The retention benefits of getting a client to offer up a recommendation are among the most widely missed and yet the most powerful aspects of testimonials.
Psychologists and market researchers have long studied the influence that testimonials have on human behavior—specifically, how people tend to stand more firmly behind something (or someone) after they've supported it publicly. The same goes for clients that write positive things about their insurance agent. By encouraging clients to write you a testimonial, and then sharing it publicly with their blessing, it will make the clients a lot stickier moving forward.
Not only are promoters willing to recommend you, but most are also open to buying more coverage. However, clients won't automatically buy more coverage just because they are willing to. The benefits of the coverage need to be presented to the client the right way so that they're receptive to the message. Below are some ways to show clients the need for additional coverage and how to round the accounts.
Adding additional coverage
Although promoters are open to purchasing additional coverage, most people aren't eager to increase their insurance bill unless they have a good reason. If you buy a new car, you need to insure it. If you move into a new house, it needs to be covered. But what about insurance that people think they can live without?
Consider the thought process someone has when buying something new—also known as the Buyer Decision Process. The first step in this journey is recognizing that there's a need for a product or service. Without an established need, offers and calls-to-action for new coverage will fall on deaf ears.
A common mistake with cross-selling is when an agent introduces new coverage to clients, and then immediately goes for the sale. If the client says no, it's likely because when people know they are being sold to, they'll naturally become more guarded. It also usually takes some time between recognizing a need and being comfortable with making a purchase.
You can get around both of these hurdles by first educating clients on the need for coverage, and then later presenting them with an offer. They'll get the space and time they need to warm up to the idea of buying a new policy, while also establishing your agency as the subject matter expert when they're ready to pull the trigger.
Educate clients on the benefits of adding coverage by sending relevant online articles to specific groups of clients. People appreciate it when their agent sends them something individually to read. 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.
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. 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. Below are some common add-on policies and how to position educational articles to establish a need. Search Google for the titles we mention and find links to material that you'd consider sending your clients.
Life insurance is something everyone has at least heard of, but only about 60% of adults in the U.S. are covered. There's likely a large segment of your customer base that may consider adding a life policy if they thought it was worth it. Look for articles that answer common questions people have around life insurance or stress the benefits of owning a policy. Some examples include:
- What are the different types of life policies, and which is best for you?
- Do I need a life policy if my work already offers one?
- How much life insurance do I need?
- How much does life insurance cost?
- Is life insurance a good investment?
- What is the best age to consider buying a life insurance policy?
- How healthy must you be to get life insurance?
If you have a mortgage, you need homeowners insurance. On the other hand, only 37% of renters buy renters insurance. It's usually not required, and therefore most people don't even consider it. Some ideas of articles to send renters include:
- What does renters insurance cover?
- How much does the average renters insurance cost?
- How do you figure out the value of your belongings?
- Why do most people often overlook renters insurance?
In the U.S., nearly 70% of households own a pet, but only 2% also have pet insurance. At the same time, the average visit to an emergency vet clinic costs $2,000 – $5,000 or more. Most pet owners are unprepared or unable to pay this expense, which leads to difficult decisions and heartbreaking outcomes. Here are some educational articles to consider sending to your clients to help establish the need:
- What does pet insurance cover?
- How much does it cost if your pet needs surgery?
- Can your pet be too old to quality for pet insurance?
- What does the average pet insurance policy cover?
Segment your clients (for calls to action)
After educating your clients on the benefits of adding additional coverage, you can begin to integrate calls-to-action into your communication. You can put calls to action in email or direct mail offers for specific coverage (e.g., life insurance). Rather than sending out the same offer to every client, take some time to group your messages to resonate with target audiences.
Group your clients by policy types, demographics or other data points that suggest they would be open to specific offers. For example, clients with an auto policy but not homeowners are likely to rent, and therefore also be good candidates to receive an offer for renters insurance. Or a family with home and auto but no life policy may be receptive to information regarding life insurance. The more tailored the message, the better it will be received by your clients.
Call your most valuable clients
Set some time aside each week to give some of your promoters a ring. See how they are doing, and ask if they need help or have any questions regarding their coverage. Allow cross-sale opportunities to pop up naturally during the discussion, rather than forcefully probing for them. You don't want your clients to feel like you're just looking for opportunities to sell them something. Calling promoters periodically also goes a long way to boosting client retention, as it shows them you're actively looking out for them between claims and renewals.
Boost employee morale
Maintaining a top NPS requires effort from each team member at every level of the organization. When you're all working together for a common goal, you'll achieve success. Now is the time to celebrate together, but you need to ensure this momentum continues.
Celebrate positive feedback
Collecting feedback from your clients over time is like having a constant flow of positive reinforcement throughout the year. Client testimonials are often thoughtful remarks on how much the agency has helped them. Many times they also mention an agent or CSR by name—providing a perfect opportunity for an agency-wide shout-out. Make the most of these testimonials when they come in by celebrating the successes of your team regarding creating happy clients.
Adjust agency-wide goals
Before you had a top score, you likely set goals on reaching one. It would be best if you now switched to goals that keep the score high. For example, we recommend companies have a running counter "days over 95", that count the consecutive days their NPS is over 95. A counter like this allows you to set new milestones such as 100 days over 95. These points are an excellent alternative to rewards that traditionally came from reaching a particular score. It's a fun way to recognize staff for continuing their fantastic work. Not to mention, as the count gets even higher, each client interaction becomes more critical—nobody wants to be the person that causes the count to reset.
Show an agency NPS leaderboard
When employees can see how they are doing compared to others, they're more likely to improve, and those with a high score will do whatever it takes to keep their top spot. A leaderboard encourages competition, and a healthy game centered around client experience is always a good thing. When you have several high performers, this is also a useful tool for new staff to set benchmarks and reinforce your focus on customer experience.
Here's an example of how you can see the data broken down with a dashboard available at Rocket Referrals.
Keep an eye on trends
It's just as crucial for agencies with a high NPS to keep an eye on trends within NPS comments as it is for agencies looking for ways to improve their score.
Staying on top of what you're doing well is a great way to see if the investment you're making in those activities is paying off. It's also important to monitor feedback to quickly identify new trends and fix things before they become an issue.
Monitor your NPS and average score
When you have a high NPS, the number of points it changes by on a weekly or monthly basis isn't much. So, to spot trends, you can add a new measure that gives you a more finer-grained look.
- Your average score is the total score from all NPS responses divided by the number of responses.
- When combined with your NPS, it can help you see a small trend in changes to how people respond.
For example, if you have 100 responses and 95 people respond with a 10 and 5 respond with 8, your NPS is 95. Likewise, if the same 95 people instead responded with a 9, your NPS is still 95. But if we compare average scores, in the first scenario, your average score is 9.9, and in the second scenario, it's 9.2.
As you can see, adding an average score is a great way to know if you're trending up or down. An average of 9.9 that moves to a 9.2 might indicate your score is about to drop.
If you spot a trend in one direction or another, you should look for why that's the case by analyzing client feedback.
Look for trends within 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."
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 in Excel. 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.