Growing a specialist customer base

11 May 2022

Building your book of schemes clients undoubtedly is different to how you might prospect and pipeline your open market targets.

Delegated authority schemes can help you as a broker take control of the risks you’re writing and empower you to make decisions for your customers. Once you have the confidence of what your customer base wants and then a product that supports those wants, the next step is to build your book of customers.

Customers want to be valued, and as a schemes broker you're hopefully looking at a large prospect pool of like-minded people and business owners with similar interests and business characteristics.

It’s vital to be able to demonstrate how your product adds value to them and this puts the emphasis on giving rather than taking. This will lead to a stronger relationship and trust between you and your customer in turn helping retention and growth.

With this in mind, here are four simple ways to help you grow your specialist customer base.

1. Engage

This one might seem simple but in the post pandemic world with new forms of engagement, a lot of businesses are competing for attention, often virtually. You have to work hard to get your message across in a crowded market place.

Engaging with people isn’t as straightforward as clicking a button. Too often there is the temptation to think ‘job done’. But what happens next? Yes it's an easy way of being able to communicate with your customers right now but it’s all about what the customer gains afterwards.

A free e-shot newsletter is a starting point but you need to drill down into those business communities your prospective customers sit in and make the conversation two-way.

Social media platforms enable your customers to interact with you and for you to maintain a presence. Look for the trade association sites, LinkedIn groups, Twitter feeds. The key is to demonstrate how you’re adding more value (see point 2) and allow these groups to share and promote your brand for you. This is a great way of growing your customer base easily and is relatively cost efficient.

2. Ask for feedback and share testimonials

The story goes that you are likely to tell four times as many people of a bad customer experience than a good one.

Does this ring true for you? Social media is awash with stories of poor service and bad experiences. It’s so easy to write it down, share it and the damage can be substantial, often sadly when it isn’t exactly the correct chain of events.

But how do we give the good stories air time? Your customers will be more than happy to express themselves and share with you their experiences of being your customer. There are many ways you can gather this feedback, from online survey tools sent via email, sharing links on social media and when you are speaking on the phone. You can structure this feedback around anything you want their thoughts on, be that the covers you provide, how your service standards are received or even your engagement with them.

The key here is when to ask. Our experience suggests it is when you have delivered their wants. That could be a successful claim negotiation, renewal of the contract or a tricky mid-term adjustment. When the customer has that feel good factor, this is the time to ask.

And then what to do with it. Clearly your own social media is a great platform but how about building it into your own web pages and presentation pack? Having a number of testimonials up your sleeve will always help you take away any fear a potential customer may have, giving them that security and peace of mind that change is good.

3. Consistency

In this highly focused consumer world, the customer buying for the tenth time is as important and a potential opportunity for more sales as one buying for the first time. Your service standards and customer focus should always be at the forefront of your mind. Never let that drop. Make world class service become your trademark. Be associated with brilliant basics and magic moments. Consistency is a great indicator for how authentically you value your customer relationship. As I said before, your customers will share a positive experience and that will always lead to increased sales opportunities.

4. Fresh online content

Fresh and informative content is one of the main elements that pull in new visitors and potential customers. This helps present your business as an evolving and current insurance broker. Keep your content fresh by publishing a blog or news article that focuses on matters important to your customers and that is relevant to them and their sector. So many blogs or “news” pages sit fallow and gather dust. Nothing worse than seeing the last article from 2020! Are you still trading is my first thought when I see that let alone have you stopped talking to customers.

You can also share news about what you’re offering and link in to new customers by showing how you’ve helped existing customers.

New content and key words to your website also helps it perform better on SEO. Even if you’re not changing anything fundamental, putting out fresh content around new wins, new insurer partners and new team members keeps you front of mind.

Meet Simon McGill

A photo of Simon McGillSimon McGill - UK Schemes Development Manager

Simon is responsible for leading Ecclesiastical Schemes DA and MGA development and helping brokers to find solutions in the Schemes space across the United Kingdom. He is the focal point for all new enquiries, working with the team of Strategic Account Managers and New Business Underwriters within Ecclesiastical.

Prior to joining the Schemes team, Simon worked as an open market Account Manager in the Northern Region for Ecclesiastical and had enjoyed a 30 year career within corporate broking and insurance recruitment.

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