In general, we tend to take the things we do daily for granted. We barely notice them until there’s trouble. For example, we barely notice breathing until we have a cold. Communication is similar. We barely notice something is wrong until someone communicates it to us or there’s some other impact, like a lost sale or a lost client. Honing your communication skills can be a great way to not only build your existing relationships with clients but also attract and win over new clients.
- What is Client Communication?
- Best Tools for Client Communication
- Understanding Generational Client Communication
- Client Communication Tips for Life Insurance Agents
What is Client Communication?
Client communication is not relegated to communication initiated by the client nor to any single mechanism for communication. That is, any time you communicate with a client via phone, email, text, in person, or even fax, it’s client communication. Active listening is just as valuable as when you reach out to simply deliver information. All of those touch points are valuable and are what help you build a relationship.
Best Tools for Client Communication
There was a time in sales and customer service when a phone and a lunch meeting were enough to help you manage client communication. However, in the age of smartphones and both constant and immediate connection, clients naturally expect more. With those expectations, you need the right tools to help you stay in contact.
A customer relation management tool can help you store contacts, track all communication and touchpoints, and even make notes about clients for you to remember or consider when talking with them. You can save preferences, interests, important dates, and even automate messages to save yourself time.
This is the standard. While other modes of communication may be faster, you can track and save emails, refer back to them as needed and clients can, essentially, reach you at any time.
For instant communication, nothing beats phone or text. When it comes to text, keep those messages brief and to confirm additional communication or set up a meeting, not for serious conversations. Phone, on the other hand, is the next best thing to making personal contact. Voice communication can convey far more information through tone than a text or an email, so save serious conversations for in person, video, or phone communication.
4. Video calls
As we all learned during the pandemic, video calls can be a great tool when in person meetings aren’t possible. They’re a little more personal than a phone call and you can even plan to meet over a cup of coffee. Allowing your client to see you, and seeing them, can help foster connection that just
5. Social Media/Website
Not all communication is personal. Some updates you want to communicate to all your clients. Whether informative or educational, your website and social media are great tools for communication. When it comes to social media, you can schedule posts and let clients know about events and opportunities. Any tool you can automate for communication is valuable in terms of saving you time while you still reap the touchpoint rewards.6. Handwritten notes/mail
Though this may seem antiquated, this personal touch not only delivers your message but does so in a personal way that really can bolster your relationship with your client. However, use this sparingly, for special events or occasions. For example, a once a year holiday card with a personal message included can leave a lasting impression.
Understanding Generational Client Communication
Given all the tools available to you, and all the different types of clients, understanding which tools to use and when is both an art and a science. First, letting your client establish which modes of communication they are comfortable with is important. For some, texting is second nature, while others find it impersonal and unprofessional. Some of this depends on the individual, but a good part of the differences are generational as well.
More specifically, the baby boom generation tends to prefer phone calls and in person communication. After all, cell phones didn’t hit the scene until they were well into adulthood. Gen X, on the other hand, is more comfortable with phone, email, and text. Millennials are not dissimilar, but they’d prefer to not talk at all, choosing instead to communicate via email or text.
While communication preferences are largely individual, understanding that one generation is more likely to find texting acceptable (and actually prefers it) can go a long way to creating opportunities for communication.
Client Communication Tips for Life Insurance Agents
Because communicating with clients will be one of the most important, and sometimes demanding, aspects of your job, honing these skills is vital and knowing where to focus your efforts can really help.1. Practice your product talk
When it comes to in person communication, much of the talking you do will be discussing your products. It’s one thing to know the facts and to be able to lay out the details of a policy, but really discussing them and how they fit into a client’s goals and life takes practice. That means being able to discuss your products, and their complexities, in a knowledgeable and conversational manner. That takes practice.2. Written skills
Much like math class, many folks believe they won’t need the skills learned in writing classrooms, but poor writing may be costing you business. In fact, research suggests that poor writing skills (and even shoddy editing) can have a huge impact on the impression you make on potential and existing clients. Strong writing skills not only help you deliver your message clearly, but they also create the impression of knowledge, trust, care, and professionalism. Learning to proofread, get input from others, and revise your writing are all great strategies to improve your written messaging.
3. Listening skills
Communication is a cycle. It starts with one person delivering a message to a receiver, who is then able to process the message and respond. Non-active listeners are often thinking about what they want to say next rather than listening to the speaker. Distracted listeners may be multi-tasking or just non-attentive. Both result in the same problem. The speaker will eventually pick up on this and feel devalued or as if the listener cannot be responsive to their needs. Obviously, that’s a situation you’d like to avoid.
Active listening skills mean you are not just hearing the speaker but taking in what they’re saying and are able to repeat what they said and respond to that. Active listening is a great way to build relationships and trust.
4. Texting skills
You may not think this is a skill, but ask anyone on the receiving end of a confusing text where tone or intent is misunderstood and you’ll understand, quickly, that there’s an art to texting. Texts are best when direct and clear. Keep the messages brief. Review and edit them as well as autocorrect or text to speak can deliver an unintended or even erroneous message. Every touchpoint, every communication is an opportunity to make an impression. Don’t let the normally casual nature of texting fool you into thinking you can be casual about the contact.
Non verbal communication is complex. It’s more than just facial expressions and gestures, though nodding can go a long way in creating comfort and understanding. Body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and presentation all matter as well. A good part of sharpening your non verbal skills isn’t about practice as much as it is practicing awareness. That means observing solid communicators and their non-verbal skills and being aware of how you’re presenting yourself as well. What’s the image you want to portray? The message you want to convey? Your non verbal communication skills can be an asset or a hindrance.
As much as the products you’re offering are essential to your success, your communication skills are just as valuable. Consider what you look for in business partners and the insurance companies you work with and deliver the same to your clients. That means building trust through communication.
If you’re looking for trust and communication in an insurance company, then look no further than ELCO Mutual. We pride ourselves on our level of support and communication and time and again our partners comment on how responsive we are to their needs while helping meet the needs of their clients. If you’re ready to find an insurance partner who communicates clearly and builds a lasting relationship with you, reach out to our team today.