No one wants to lose a client, but in the benefits industry, it’s sometimes unavoidable. In some cases, the circumstances that lead a client to switch brokers are totally out of the advisor’s control — like a business sale, for example.
But in other cases, there may have been warning signs, and some strategic reflection can be really valuable. There are a few areas in which brokers should be certain they’re offering the best service possible, because these are often the pain points clients experience when they make the decision to switch and find a new advisor.
So why do clients switch brokers? As you reflect on 2018 and plan for the year ahead, here are some things to consider.
1. Benefit costs are too high
At this point, it isn’t enough to just run quotes for clients anymore. If they haven’t already, your small and mid-sized clients are quickly reaching a breaking point on costs, which is driving the appetite for more innovative strategies.
Moving a small group beyond the fully-insured health plan wasn’t always doable, but as these rates continue to rise unsustainably, the market is responding, and employers have more options than ever before. Strategy has to play a role in your renewal conversations.
Your clients are looking for advice that allows them to maintain a competitive suite of benefits sustainably. Consider whether you are doing enough to educate clients on the options available to them, even if it’s not something you think they will take advantage of immediately.
2. They want comprehensive, tech-savvy advising
The rise of Zenefits showed that a significant portion of the small business segment is looking for a broker who can offer solutions beyond benefits. These buyers are looking for benefits advice and HR solutions, and brokers who position themselves as comprehensive advisors with tech solutions have an upper hand.
For example, most organizations are struggling to hire right now. With historically low unemployment, the employers that are winning the war for talent are those with the most optimized applicant tracking and hiring processes.
Because benefits are largely offered to improve recruitment and retention, there’s a natural connection for brokers to provide solutions in these areas.
As more brokers adopt HR technology and offer it to small and mid-sized businesses as part of their value proposition, brokers who don’t may continue to see clients leave for brokers who do.
3. Customer service needs aren’t being met
Are your clients handling their own claims issues? Are they calling carriers, tracking down insurance cards, or fixing errors? If so, you may want to reimagine your support processes. Some advisors’ value proposition centers around next-level customer service, and if your support isn’t up to par, you may be at risk of losing business.
Another point to consider is whether you maintain communication with your clients throughout the year. Making contact outside of renewals is key for relationship building, and this may be something to emphasize in the slower, post-fourth quarter season.
As you look toward your agency’s future, taking an objective audit of these criteria can help you find your weak spots and where you may be susceptible to losing business.