Recent studies suggest that consumers are increasingly relying more on word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family when making buying decisions. These studies also reveal that 61% of customers who have a positive experience will tell their friends and family. So the question is, how can you create a better customer experience?

Let’s assume you’ve done what you are supposed to do on the sales side, and you’ve closed the deal. Now what? The customer relationship shouldn’t be forgotten about just because the financial transaction has been completed. Below are 5 tips to help improve your customers’ experience to help create advocates who are happy to refer new business.

Post Sale Check Up | Sales AutomationTip 1: Post Sale Check Up

Don’t just make the sale and then forget about it. Within the first week, send a personalized email and/or make a quick phone call thanking them for their business. Let the customer know you are available if they have any questions.

Tip 2: Continue to provide helpful informationProvide Helpful Info | Sales Automation

Periodically send emails with tips letting customers know how to get the most out of their coverage. If they purchased auto insurance, send them tips for safe driving, proactive things they could do to lower their rates, or a list of cars and manufacturers that are rated the best for lower insurance premiums. If they purchased life insurance or health insurance, send out health tips, or remind them they have a free preventive visit to the doctor for annual physicals. Be creative, be fun, be helpful.

Tip 3: Communicate around important personal datesImportant Dates | Sales Automation

Send your customers a nice, short email wishing them a happy birthday. If you really want to wow them, make it a call instead. Do the same for anniversaries, holidays, and any other important date you have for that customer. These aren’t sales communications. These are touch-points designed to let the customer know you care and also work to increase their positive customer experience. Not many people on this earth get upset about regular communications wishing them well or remembering their birthday. Even people I don’t know on my social media networks wish me happy birthday, happy work anniversary, congratulate me on a new position, etc. I don’t know these people, but it feels good to be recognized. Your clients know who you are, so recognizing them on dates that are important to them will only benefit you.

Tip 4: Communicate around renewal datesRenewal Date | Sales Automation

Before their policy renewal, call your customers for a policy review. See if anything has changed during the policy term, like an important life event. Go over their coverage and make sure they are happy with it. Discuss any changes or additions they may want to make. This gives you the ability find out if there are any issues that might be causing your customer to seek another option. You can address it before it’s time.

Tip 5: Ask for referralsAsk for Referrals | Sales Automation

In most communications that you have with your customer that are business related and not explicitly personal, like birthday emails, etc., you should ask for referrals. This shouldn’t be pushy; make it short and sweet. Something like, “If you are happy with your policy and my service, please pass my information along to someone you know who may benefit from it.” This low-key approach is much more comfortable — you aren’t in their face, you don’t seem desperate, you aren’t making it awkward.

What these post-sales steps do is ensure your customers are happy. They let them know you care about them. They give customers useful information that keeps you at the top of their mind when it comes to the product or service they have with you. It’s a great reminder to them that you would appreciate any referrals they could send your way. Whenever they talk to someone about insurance, however frequent or infrequent that may be, they will most likely talk about you and how pleased they are with your service. Even if at some point they decide to cancel their policy with you, they will remember the service they got from you. If the next company who provides service to that customer hasn’t read this blog, chances are they aren’t giving the type of personalized service you gave. You may still get referrals from that former customer.

It’s not that any of these points are breakthroughs in business strategy; it’s that they take time and organization to consistently do well. What is helpful is having a sales automation platform that can automatically manage all of this for you. Know that no matter what you use, you will be better off implementing these tips in whatever way you can. But let’s talk specifically about VanillaSoft and how its platform can manage these tips for you.

VanillaSoft Overview

First, let’s do a quick run through of the technology VanillaSoft is built on so you can fully understand what makes it the best sales automation solution to help you manage pre- and post-sale communications. VanillaSoft is a queue-based sales automation platform. The queue part is what drives productivity forward. Managers create rules around lead priority, how many times a lead should be called, the frequency of those calls, and what happens to a lead in different phases of the sales cycle. These rules are fully customizable. Managers can create multiple lead flows. You can have new leads called several times over the course of a week. Once a lead is contacted or pitched, it can be taken out of that cycle and placed in a different cycle. Based on these predefined priorities, the queue automatically presents the salesperson with the next-best lead to call whether that’s a new lead that just came in, a scheduled call back, or a follow up call on a lead in its sequence of required contact attempts. The lead then goes back into the queue based on how the salesperson dispositions the lead. The workflow determines when to call that lead again.

The sales automation capabilities of VanillaSoft go beyond call and lead automation. You can set up email templates to automatically send emails by using email marketing tool like Mailchimp based on how a lead is dispositioned. After the first contact attempt, an email can go out with messaging to complement that first call. When an appointment is set, emails can go out with a reminder of the appointment time on the day before the scheduled appointment. You can also automate nurture emails. If a lead goes uncontacted or is closed because of no interest, a series of emails can go out at any interval for any length of time to nurture that lead after it is no longer being called. You can also automate where the lead goes based on how it’s dispositioned. Let’s say after a policy is signed it needs to go to Quality Assurance. When the salesperson dispositions the lead as “Sold,” or “Policy Signed,” or whatever you designate, the lead can automatically transfer to the Quality Assurance queue for handling. After Quality Assurance is done with it, the lead can be sent back to the salesperson for a post-sales follow up. These are merely examples, not the system’s limitations. VanillaSoft does not box you in to a specific lead management process, it simply takes whatever process you create then automates and manages that process for you.

Now that you have some context around what VanillaSoft can do, let’s explore the different ways you can implement the tips from above using VanillaSoft.

Post-sale check up

Have VanillaSoft push the lead to the front of the queue a week after the sale for a post-sales check up call. Create an email template that will merge the customer’s contact information to trigger a personalized email to accompany the call. You can even have one version of the email go out if a voicemail is left on the call, and one version go out if the customer answers and you are able to talk to them. If you do not prefer to schedule the call, then you can just schedule the email to go out a week after the sale is made.

Continue to provide helpful information

There are a number of ways you can approach this. You can set up a standard schedule based on the product the customer enrolled with – you can communicate via email quarterly, monthly, or at whatever interval you like. These emails can be updated, and those updates will go live for any emails that are automatically sent after that point. VanillaSoft also lets you query and filter leads and customers based on any field in the system. To give you an example of how you could increase customer satisfaction, let me show you a creative way to use these filters and queries. Let’s say there is a hurricane on its way to hit Florida. You could build a list of customers who have auto insurance or homeowners insurance in Florida. Take that list and send out a blast email with tips and suggestions on how to protect themselves, their cars and  their homes from the storm. You have the ability to send out drip emails and targeted or broad email blasts in a variety of creative ways to keep in touch and add value for your customers. These don’t have to be fancy either. While VanillaSoft does allow for rich HTML emails, sometimes a more personal, simple and short text email is all that’s needed.

Communication around important dates

You can create custom fields for birthdays, anniversaries or any other date that may be important to your customers. VanillaSoft can automatically send out a pre-designed email on any or all of those dates to express your well-wishes to your customers for their special days. You can also send out an email blast around holidays. If you want to make it even more personal, you can have VanillaSoft automatically send the customer lead to the front of the queue for a phone call on these important dates. I strongly encourage you to refrain from any business talk during these communications (both email and/or call). No upselling, no request for referrals, and no probing about their satisfaction regarding you, their policy, or your company. You should have plenty of other communication with them to include requests for referrals, etc. These are solely for the purpose of making the customer feel cared for and important.

Communication around renewal dates

I suggest having the customer lead automatically pushed to the front of the queue for a call a month before the policy renewal date. If they don’t answer, have a predesigned email go out after a voicemail has been left. If you don’t get in contact with them, have the system bring the lead back after a week for a follow up call and email. If they call you back or you do connect with them, you would disposition the lead as Annual Review Completed (or whatever you set that up as), and it will go back into the queue for the next year.

Ask for referrals

The request for referrals should be a part of most emails that you send out. Make it a point in all your value-adding emails, and make it a conversational mention during your post-sale check up and annual policy review. One suggestion, though, no matter when you actually ask for a referral, treat every interaction with your customer as though you are going to ask them for a referral. This mindset will help you remain positive and helpful during all the interactions with your customers. When you treat them that well when you’re not asking for anything, they will be more receptive when you do.

Implementing these tips with a sales automation platform like VanillaSoft takes a little bit of work on the front end, but then works for you in the background helping you build a stronger, more loyal and satisfied customer base with very little ongoing effort. This can be one of the most powerful tools you use to help take your business to the next level. If you’d like more information on how VanillaSoft can improve your business, call us at (866) 763-8826, email us at [email protected], or visit us online and request a demo.