It started as a happy accident.
It was the end of December. If you’re familiar with the insurance space, you know that the winter is a slow season for sales. Folks tend to have other things on their plate.
That means two things are true at that moment in time:
- We have excess capacity on our team because of the slow season.
- We know the end of the year / start of a new one is a good time to revisit our procedures and best practices. A lot has probably changed over the year.
So we did something unusual for most insurance companies. We dedicated a portion of our team to check in with our customers just to see how things are going.
And the results (which we’ll detail more in a bit) were extremely positive.
We often heard things like:
“I’ve owned my house for 20 years and my insurance company has never called just to check in.”
So we decided to keep going. And that’s how our customer wellness program started.
How the Customer Wellness Program Works
At the heart of it, the customer wellness team’s job is simple: reach out to customers who are about six months through their first policy term.
It’s a small gesture: How are you doing? How can we help? And our customers love it.
This is a real differentiator in an industry where customer trust is hard to earn. According to a 2018 TrustPilot report [PDF], nearly 50 percent of consumers say the finance industry is only “somewhat” or “a little trustworthy,” while the remaining participants say finance companies are “not trustworthy at all” or “untrustworthy.”
It’s worth noting that of all finance companies — banks, mortgage lenders, robo-investors — insurance companies rated as the least trusted.
So insurers have a few hurdles to overcome:
- Most folks have insurance only because they have to.
- Customers are paying for a promised service that they hopefully never have to use.
- Customers don’t have faith that their insurers will pay their claims fairly or won’t hike up their rates.
We are battling an industry-wide reputation, and this call is one way we can show we’re different.
So far, our customers have been happily surprised to hear from us — and maybe a little shocked that we are checking in without any agenda.
The Business Benefits Beyond Customer Satisfaction
Beyond building customer trust, loyalty, and overall satisfaction, we’ve noticed a few other benefits of the wellness program. Now that it’s firmly underway, we’ve learned:
- It doesn’t make sense to ask how we’re doing right after a purchase. Yes, other companies immediately ask customers for an NPS rating after a completed purchase. But at that time, our customers haven’t had a lot of opportunity to get a sense of who we are as a company or to use their home insurance policy. Because the check-in happens around halfway through the policy term, we get a real chance to see how we’re doing.
- Sales opportunities come up organically. Our end goal is nothing other than a customer support call to see how things are going. But during these conversations, things come up. For example, a lot of our customers have landlord (DP3) policies. And often the conversation turns to their own home — what would it cost to add it on? Or a customer might ask about a flood policy when they are letting us know how their homes weathered the hurricanes last year.
- We can perfect their coverage. These calls let us know what has meaningfully changed in our customers’ lives over the last six months. That also means we have the opportunity to help them stay protected. So if someone got a new car or they sold off some expensive items, we can adjust their coverage.
- Customers are more willing to give referrals when they don’t feel like a number. We want to make sure that we’re earning the customer’s business every day. And when we proactively create and maintain a relationship with a customer, they are much more likely to refer us to their family, friends, and coworkers.
In short, these calls can help boost customer retention, cross-sales, and referrals because we are demonstrating that we care about the relationship, not just the policy.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
So how can we tell the program is working?
A couple encouraging indications:
- To date, we’ve seen a 325% increase in referral activity. And we are seeing this increase in a historically low seasonality month.
- Our online reviews increased by 233% — the highest they’ve ever been. You don’t need me to tell you how big an impact online reviews have on creating consumer trust and generating new business. (But here’s a study, just in case.)
We’ve seen a 325% increase in referral activity so far.
How You Can Apply This to Your Business
You don’t have to be in the insurance business to create a similar program. Specifically, there are two types of businesses where this makes a lot of sense:
- The recurring-fee model. Any product or service with a recurring fee associated — insurance, mortgage, home security subscriptions, Netflix, or box services — depend on ongoing customer loyalty and satisfaction. A customer wellness program helps inspire that.
- High LTV. If the lifetime value of a customer is in the thousands of dollars, it’s especially important to check on the customer because you want them to keep coming back. After all, research shows a 5 percent increase in customer loyalty can increase your average profit per customer by 25 to 95 percent. Plus, the referrals loyal customers send your way can be invaluable.
In other words, if you want customers to return to your business, it’s definitely worth the phone call to make sure they’re having a great experience.
About the Author
Jamie Ahern is the Chief Operating Officer of Kin Insurance. Previously, he was the VP of Growth at Brinks Home Security (formerly LiveWatch) where he oversaw marketing, product, engineering, design, and finance. Before LiveWatch, Jamie ran user acquisition and experimentation at LearnVest during their acquisition by Northwestern Mutual. Jamie holds a BA from Northwestern University and an EMBA from Kellogg School of Management.