Using CRM to Build Profitable Customer Relationships

Friday, September 02, 2011

Using CRM to build long-lasting, profitable relationships

As a financial or insurance professional, you understand that building and establishing relationships with your prospects and clients is critical to the overall health and success of your practice. Not only that, the nature of your business requires your clients and prospects to place a great deal of trust in you and the advice that you provide. If you’re relying on your Carrier’s proprietary systems to track your clients’ information or are storing their contact data in a spreadsheet or email program, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to foster and develop lasting, more meaningful and ultimately more profitable relationships.

In this article we’ll look at some of the relationship-building features of CRM applications and explain how you can use a CRM solution to build these kinds of profitable relationships so your practice can grow and thrive.

Contact Management Functionality

The types of contact data you can store is going to vary from application to application and there may be some variances in the actual data fields available. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the InsurPro application we discussed in the last article as an example of the types of contact data you can store in an application that was designed for insurance professionals. (You can learn more about InsurPro by visiting http://www.startercrm.com/insurance-pro.aspx). In opening up this application, we find the following contact data fields are available, which for convenience, I’ll refer to as the “Primary Contact Data” fields:
  • Full Name
  • Suffix
  • Company Name
  • Business Phone 1
  • Business Phone 2
  • Mobile Phone
  • Home Phone
  • Business Fax
  • Email Address 1
  • Email Address 2
  • Website URL
  • IM Address
  • Business Address
  • Residence Address
  • Shipping Address

This list of contact fields in itself isn’t remarkable and is the type of information that could easily be stored in a spreadsheet. However, what is remarkable is the range of data that can be entered and connected to the Primary Contact Data fields. For convenience, I’ll refer to these as “Secondary Data Fields” which in the case of InsurPro, include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

·         Classification Form

o   Contact Classification

o   Contact Type (i.e. Customer, Prospect, Employee, etc.)

o   Account Executive

o   Priority Rating

o   Lead Source

o   Industry

o   Number of Employees

o   Estimate of Revenue

·         Additional Details

o   Department

o   Manager’s Name

o   Assistant’s Name

·         Personal Information

o   Nickname

o   Spouse’s Name

o   Birthday

o   Anniversary

·         Personal Profile Info

o   Name You Use When Speaking to Client

o   Source of the Introduction to the Client

o   SSN

o   Marital Status

o   Gender

o   Number of Children

·         Family Detail

o   Last Name

o   First Name

o   Relationship

o   Date of Birth

o   Age

o   Occupation

o   Phone

This list of Secondary Data Fields is just a small sample of a much larger list of data fields available within InsurPro. However, the important thing to note about this list is not the amount of data that can be stored, but the type of data that can be stored.

Why is the type of data you can store more important than the amount of data you can store?

Well, as I mentioned at the start of this article, effective use of CRM technology can help you build stronger, longer lasting and more profitable relationships with your clients and prospects. Knowing the address and phone number of your client’s employer is useful and is something you would want to know, but it isn’t really helpful.  Conversely, being able to access and refer to more personal information about your client such as their nickname, their birthday, their anniversary, their spouse’s name and the name of the person that referred them to you, is extremely helpful when you’re looking to build a relationship with both prospects and clients alike.

Using the Data to Build Relationships

Having access to a wide range of client and prospect data is just part of the relationship building equation. Actually using the data is the other, and frankly more important, part of the equation. CRM solutions like InsurPro have functionality built-in that enables you to use the data to foster deeper relationships. One of the features I especially like is the birthday and anniversary reminder. As we’ve discussed, the relationships you forge with your clients are the lifeblood of your practice and there’s no better way to create those enduring relationships than by remembering the important events in your clients’ lives. InsurPro helps ensure you don’t forget to acknowledge these events by placing a reminder of upcoming client birthdays and anniversaries on your dashboard. Not only that, when you open your client’s contact record & click the email icon next to the birthday or anniversary date, InsurPro sends them a congratulatory email, which is the kind of functionality that truly sets CRM applications apart from spreadsheets.

Using the Data to Build Your Practice’s Profitability

Aside from using the data to build relationships, CRM applications also offer features and functionality you can use to improve the profitability of your practice. In an earlier article, I recommended you limit your search for a CRM solution to those that have been designed for professionals in your industry, and this is one of the primary reasons why I made that recommendation. Your practice provides a service to your clients by proposing insurance and financial products that help them safeguard their retirement and provide for their future. If your CRM solution isn’t designed specifically for insurance or financial professionals, it’s not only more difficult to store this information, but also to use it to better service your clients and ultimately grow your practice. As an example, you know all too well that your clients’ circumstances can change and safeguarding their future and their family’s security is your top priority. What better way to make sure they have appropriate coverage in place than by implementing a regularly scheduled policy review program? Products designed for the insurance industry, like InsurPro, make it easy to put this kind of program in place by allowing you to set up policy review dates when you add new clients, or sell them new products. One you’ve done this, every time you log in you can quickly see a list of policies that are due to be reviewed. With just a couple of clicks, you can review policies that have a review date anytime from the current day to 30 days hence, which makes it incredibly simple for you to schedule a visit with you client and ensure they have the right coverages in place. If they do have the right coverages in place, great. You’re showing them that they’ve placed their trust with the right professional who’s working to protect their future. If on the other hand, their circumstances have changed, you have an opportunity to position new or additional products that will meet their needs and which will provide you with additional commission-earning opportunities.

Conclusion

We’ve seen that you can use CRM applications to do much more than simply store your clients’ information. As you look at the different CRM offerings, I encourage you to look closely at the functionality each solution includes and think about how it can be used to build lasting, profitable relationships that will help you grow your practice. I would further encourage you to limit your search to those applications which have been developed specifically for the insurance or financial industry. I say this because not only are the data fields tailored to store the information you need, they will also frequently come with built-in features that enable you to maintain and build relationships and better serve your clients.