CIB’s Jayne Creswell gets to the nub of customer loyalty…

When asked for reasons why clients are loyal, more advisers describe their level of service as the number one reason, as opposed to other possible factors such as market performance or even price. But is this really the case in a tough economic environment? What is the real story? What makes clients loyal?

After speaking with a large number of brokers I came to the conclusion that service levels are definitely a huge contributing factor when it comes to client loyalty.

The true test of this statement comes at claim stage. It’s at this point when clients appraise brokers not just on the actual processing of the claim, but also whether the policy was structured correctly from the start on a particular risk. The outcome of the claim brings that to light.

That being said, transparency is also of the utmost importance. It’s important for brokers to be upfront from the very beginning regarding what is and isn’t covered, how a potential claim will be handled, etc. Clients just need to know what to anticipate from the start so that their expectations are realistic.

Clients often aren’t aware of the negotiations that go on behind the scenes between broker and insurer. Let them know when you have negotiated better terms to the “norm”. Communicating this with them will show the value you are adding as a broker to them.

Availability is also key. Clients want to be able to speak to their actual broker when they need them; that’s where the relationship lies, not with office personnel whom they have never met.

Another contributing factor is time. The longer you have a client on your books and the more you engage with them, the better your understanding will be of their business and their needs. Over time, brokers come to understand the businesses they insure inside and out, and that experience gained becomes priceless. After years of dealing with a particular broker, it’s hard for clients to let go. They will be more reluctant to start afresh with someone else who doesn’t know their business and all its processes.

At the end of the day it’s service levels and relationships that keep clients loyal.