5 Tips for Building Trusting Relationships with Clients
Jun 1, 2012
In today’s connected world, no business can survive without building trusting relationships with its customer base. If your clients do not trust you as an agent, you can fully expect them to part ways with you, and to never refer business to you. Building a solid relationship is specifically about establishing yourself as an authority within the industry. I have been selling insurance for 10 years and found that clients come to you because you can prove value. They will stick around if you are open and honest with them. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to build and maintain long-lasting relationships with your clients.
1 - Establish Yourself as an Authority
Ask yourself how engaged you are in the industry. If you are not actively participating in the public forum, then consider changing that. Being out of touch with the industry means that you do not know the trends within the industry, and being out of touch is a flaw that becomes obvious to your clients as they ask questions. As you begin dialogue with other industry experts, make sure that you spread your knowledge. Your clients will understand how much you know as they speak with you, but you want to become someone that even others in the industry look to for knowledge.
Consider starting a blog that will allow you to impart your wisdom and offer your opinions and advice on current trends, and keep it updated on a regular schedule. Webinars allow those looking to you for advice and expertise a chance to associate your face and your voice with your opinions. Never underestimate the power of publishing an article in a journal. Writing can be a lot of work, but it is worth the efforts. As your name is associated with the information in a journal or publication with a reputation of providing quality material, your status as an authority within the field will increase.
2 - Share Testimonials
There is no better way to prove to others that you are what you claim to be than having trustworthy people share their opinions of you and your work. If you have business partners who can and will endorse you, ask them for a quote you can share publicly. Do the same with your clients. Seek out customers who have had a positive experience with you and ask them for a statement.
Make sure any testimonials are shared publicly, either via your website or through social media channels. Do not stop at quotes, though; go above and beyond with other forms of media. Get your clients or business partners in front of a camera and record them, and let your audience hear their testimonials in their own words. Consider starting a podcast to feature your satisfied partners and clients. Do anything you can to spread the word.
3 - Honesty and Transparency
Your clients count on you to be honest with them. If they discover that anything you do is dishonest, be assured they will be getting their insurance elsewhere. Be completely clear with your message when you speak to a client, and be sure to put it in terms they can understand. Let them ask you questions, and answer them simply.
Additionally, always be honest with what you can and cannot deliver. If your client is looking for a product that you do not and cannot offer, tell them so, and perhaps direct them to a colleague who does offer the service. Most importantly, look inwardly. If you have any actions in your day-to-day that you do not want your clients to know about, you clearly should not be doing those things. Hold yourself accountable and see things from the viewpoint of your clients.
4 - Communication and Follow-up\
An e-mail inbox can fill up in a single day from a combination of both important and entirely unimportant e-mails. In spite of this (and perhaps because of it), a quick follow-up is perhaps one of the best tools for building great client relationships. If you can be relied upon to promptly reply to an e-mail or voicemail, your customers will be far more likely to engage you on a regular basis. Punctuality goes miles in a relationship. Any contact you make with a client should be viewed as a smaller part of a greater conversation that never ends. Ensure that every note from a client is followed up on in a timely manner. If you have not heard from a client in a while, reach out, just to check in. Showing customers that they are more than numbers to you will strengthen your relationship. If a client requests something from you, make certain you have the time available to make good on the request in a timely manner, and keep the client up to date on the progress of that request. Constant communication is a cornerstone of a trusting relationship.
5 - Maintain a Social Media Presence
This one piece of advice encapsulates and underscores the importance of the previous four tips. Your clients are already on numerous social media sites and using multiple social tools to find information today. If you are already an authority within the field, you should be pushing your brand using social media. Link to your blogs and webinars by using LinkedIn and Twitter, share video testimonials via YouTube, and be transparent wherever you are online. Your social media accounts are an extension of you, so use them as such. Social media is also another tool to use to keep in constant communication with your clients, and a great way to answer questions and provide information to a large group. Keep in mind, however, that social media is not a magic tool. You should not expect new clients to pour in via social media and start throwing you money. Each account requires real thought and a hands-on approach, and should be handled with the same respect you have for any other client interaction.
Following these tips will assist you in building trusting relationships with your clients. You will notice that as your clients come to trust you more, they will refer their friends and colleagues to you as well; yet you should not expect results overnight. Every suggestion noted above will take effort and thought on your part. As with any relationship, results will come as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort.
About The Author
Andrew Bard is the Vice President of Sales for HCC Medical Insurance Services, a provider of international and travel health insurance plans. He serves as President of the Indianapolis Association of Health Underwriters and received the Global Benefits Leadership award in 2011.