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Crafting Personalized Service

03/24/2010

Recently I’ve been giving a good deal of thought to what makes customized and personalized service effective. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I purchased a customized handbag at a “Design Your Own Handbag” party. Stick with me here, I promise this post is not just about handbags.

To say this was an abnormal purchase is almost an understatement. If you know me personally, then you’ll nod in agreement when I say that I am not a “high-end handbag person”… not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that typically I buy bags that cost $12, last indefinitely and come from the TJ Maxx clearance rack. Why then did I spend ten times that much on a handbag last month?

Experience – Value – Customization

The party was held at the handbag shop, and I walked in prepared for a serious sales pitch.  However, I found that no one tried to sell us a thing. The store consultant explained the process – choose a style, select the fabrics and place the order.  Then the bag is handmade and shipped to you in about 4 weeks. There was no sales pitch, no hidden fees, specials or two-fors. In addition, I found clearly labeled prices, a showroom with high quality samples and the promise that my bag would be unique to me. Honestly, I was surprised when 14 orders went in out of 15 of us who attended and all without the any pressure to buy.

I started to think about how this model applies in the insurance business. (Fortunately for the life of the party, I didn’t find out until later that evening that there were several insurance ladies in attendance.) Surely, we won’t be printing policies on fancy monogrammed paper, nor do clients expect that. However, I think there is something to be said for the expectation of personalized service and the expectation of honest salesmanship. Low and behold, I think that’s the very definition of an Independent Agent!

Making sure we personalize our client communication is the first thing that comes to mind. Take the form letter as an example. How many mailings – paper and electronic – are going out addressed to “Valued Customer” or “Dear Insured”? Certainly hand signing every communication out of the office is overkill, but how often do we trade the convenience of an auto signature for bland client exchanges? What might a handwritten ‘Thank You’ note mean to a customer who has made a referral? And in the Web 2.0 space, the power of a personal mention over a channel like Twitter or Facebook can be a building block in moving a casual acquaintance over to a loyal customer.

I’ve begun asking myself, how personal am I making my client communications?  Am I doing enough to ensure that I’m strengthening the right relationships in the right way? In essence, am I giving my clients the insurance version of the customized handbag?

What personal touches do you put on your client communication? Does it make a difference?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Pat Loonie permalink
    03/25/2010 3:26 pm

    Melissa, I like the handbag and you also reminded me to think about my interactions in business and my personal life and giving that little extra. Thanks. Patty

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