As independent agents continue to navigate rising premium rates, decreasing capacity, and tougher underwriting standards, those that are prepared and proactive with clients will fare considerably better than those that fail to respond to a hardening market. Clients react unfavorably to rising rates – or worse, policy cancelations – and agents must work harder, and smarter, to improve retention and prevent churn.

A strong client retention program is an essential component to an independent agency’s growth strategy. With the expense of acquiring a new customer about six times more than that of retaining an existing one, investing in client retention is a smart and cost-effective approach.

Make it Personal. A good retention strategy should always begin with a great customer onboarding experience and continues through the lifetime of the relationship. Evaluate the experience from your client’s perspective. Where possible, get to know your clients and make a personal connection. The more you know about them the better able you are to meet their needs. Do you acknowledge important events? Sending a birthday card with a handwritten message speaks volumes.

Communicate Regularly. Keep in touch with your customers. Regular communication is essential to identifying any potential issues before renewal. Ask about their preferred method of contact—email, text, call, or in-person. Simply contacting a person in the manner they want can improve the quality of your interactions.

Conduct regular coverage reviews. Sometimes a client’s circumstances will have changed but they will not have updated their coverage. Communicating regularly will give you the opportunity to become aware of any changes and adjust policies.

Be proactive about changing premiums and any anticipated changes. Explaining the reasoning and offering solutions may help with retention regardless of rate increases. Compare and shop rates for your customers and send price comparison quotes. Always add value to the relationship.

Use content marketing to keep your agency top of mind. Utilizing social media, sending email newsletters and even the occasional survey gives you and your agency additional touchpoints to keep in contact.

Retention Equals Renewals. When a customer’s renewal date is approaching, reach out and thank them for their loyalty. Ask if they have any questions or concerns. Focus on cross-selling and highlight the benefits of having all policies with one agency. Those who have multiple products with your agency are more likely to stay. Consider giving tokens of appreciation for renewals. They don’t have to be high-dollar items but should express your gratitude.

Your existing clients should never be neglected in favor of pursuing new customers—both are instrumental to agency growth and profitability. A client retention program leads to a better agency experience for customers and makes them feel valued. In turn, your clients will be less likely to leave your agency for a competitor, and more likely to recommend you to friends and family. Keep your current customers happy and the revenue potential can only grow higher.