I’ve been with the same insurer for about 8 years. My most recent agent “inherited” me after my previous agent retired. I’ve never seen her in person. Never spoken to her on the phone. The last contact I had with her office was the certified letter she sent to tell me my homeowner’s insurance was being canceled.
I decided that it might also be time to change my auto insurance coverage, since the same company had insured our home and vehicles.
I had met another insurance agent at a women’s professional organization several months earlier- Christine Crowell of Crowell Insurance Group. We had been out for coffee a handful of times over the past year and developed a friendship. I liked her so much, I WANTED to give her my business. So I did. I wound up with better coverage at a lower price.
I called the previous agent to say I had gone with another insurer, and they asked which insurer I had gone with. I told them, and they said, “Oh, we write policies with them, too. But I guess you didn’t know that.”
I didn’t. But even if I had, I likely would have changed agents anyway, because for me, doing business is about more than the transaction; it’s about the relationship.
I enjoy doing business with people I have a relationship with. And although I feel a connection to Black and Brew, the coffee shop whose owner knows me by name, it’s not just face-to-face relationships that count in my book, nor in the minds of many other consumers.
I feel as though I have relationships with many business people in this county, thanks to social media. I am Facebook friends with Realtors, welders, A/C companies and boutiques. I follow carpet cleaners, developers and restaurants on Twitter.
Had there been any type of relationship with my previous insurance agent, I might have continued doing business with her. But we’ve certainly never gone out for coffee, and if she has a Facebook page or Twitter account, I don’t know about it. The only interaction I ever had with her was when she wanted to sell me more insurance, or tell me my carrier was dropping my homeowners coverage. Neither of those were pleasant experiences for me.
Business owners, I share this in hope that you will understand this: you need to be engaged with your customers. They need to feel as though you care about and value their business. No, you’re not going to take each and every customer out to lunch. Maybe you’ll never know all of them by name.
But with social media, there’s just no excuse for not making an effort. Get a Twitter account. Create a Facebook fan page for your business. Claim your business on foursquare and/or SCVNGR and create rewards and incentives for customers to come to your establishment.
Why? Because doing business is about relationships. The Internet has created countless additional ways in which to build a rapport with your clients. You might as well take advantage of it… your competition is.
If you would like more information about how to use social media in your company, call our Lakeland public relations firm. We can help.