The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is the busiest and most important time of the year for insurance agents. During the OEP, which lasts roughly two months, agents work hard to help their clients find the best healthcare insurance policy. While attending to the needs of all of your new clients is a priority, you probably also have a plethora of already established clients who need to make changes to their existing policies. Needless to say, there is a lot of work to take care of. There are all sorts of tips and tricks out there for agents to use in order to have a successful OEP, but one aspect of the season that often gets overlooked is communication styles. When you have a career as an insurance agent, you also in turn have a career as a salesperson. With that said, it’s likely that you’re already a good communicator in general, but something that doesn’t get focused on as much are the specific methods of communication and how they can affect a customer’s experience.
Every client is different and that includes their preferences in how you reach out and talk to them. Whether you have a client that preferes communication via phone, video conference, in person, or any other way, being flexible and catering to their needs and wants will go a long way. To help drive this point home, we’ve sorted through the most commonly used methods of communication, delving into each one’s pros and cons. We’ll also teach you some tips along the way so that you can tailor your style to match each person’s preferences.
Exploring Communication Methods
With the technology that is available today, we all know that there are a variety of different methods of communication available. As an insurance agent, it is your job to both understand the advantages and disadvantages of each, and be able to discern when each one is appropriate. In general choosing the right method comes down to client preferences and the situation at hand. Having this knowledge will help to put you in a better position to tackle the OEP.
- Personal Touch: When interacting with clients over the phone, like being in-person, you’re able to be more personal with your clients. Unlike text messages, clients will be able to hear your tone of voice, helping them gauge your personality. In general, clients will be more comfortable when they hear a calm and kind sounding voice.
- Real-time Communication: Telephone communication is also effective because you are able to address clients’ questions and concerns in real-time. This directness is great for clients who want to save time, instead of having to wait around for a response.
- Thoroughness: A third advantage is that on the phone you have the ability to convey complex information and messages. Rather than being limited by a keyboard, you can instead explain concepts in detail. This makes the chance of your client misinterpreting something very small.
- Possibility of Missed Phone Calls: When you reach out to a client, there is always a chance that they won’t be available to pick up the phone. On the other hand, they could call you back and you could be on the phone with someone else or completing another task. These scenarios would ultimately prolong the sales process for you.
- Time Consuming: Phone calls can take a lot of time, especially if the client has a lot of questions or doesn’t want to get straight to the point. During OEP when you have many clients to help, lengthy phone calls could make your day less productive overall.
Phone Call Tips:
- Prepare sufficiently by having an outline or designated script ready. This will help structure the conversation.
- When possible, schedule your phone calls ahead of time, ensuring that clients will be available.
- Actively listen to your clients concerns before providing them with a plethora of information.
- Quick and Convenient: Whether you’re simply offering your services, or you’re talking to an already established client, texting is a fast and easy way to communicate for both parties.
- Not Intrusive: Especially with new clients, phone calls and voicemail messages can seem bothersome. With texts, you won’t have this problem, as clients can respond whenever they want. This lowers the chances of them feeling overwhelmed.
- Good for Periodic Reminders: Text messages are probably the most effective way to send clients periodic reminders for deadlines or other pertinent information.
- Impersonal: Texts can sometimes give consumers the impression that they are simply a name on a sheet of paper. Additionally, messages can be misinterpreted since you can’t express your tone of voice.
- Limited Explanations: Since text messages rely on you typing a message out, it can make it difficult to convey complex ideas or information.
Text Messaging Tips:
- Try to be as concise and to the point with your messaging, and prompt them to call you for more detailed information.
- Use texts mainly for quick updates and reminders as opposed to lengthy conversations.
- Face-to-Face Conversation: Making a visual connection with clients can instill a higher level of trust and personability, that’s not possible via phone or text.
- Great for Complex Discussions: Video conferencing is an ideal way to express complex ideas or points, and allow clients to ask questions in real-time.
- Easy to Schedule: You can easily schedule video appointments by sending someone a link via email or text message. Clients will also be more likely to set up appointments that they can access no matter where they are.
- Technology Issues: With video chats there is always a possibility of technical issues occurring. Both you and the client must also have the proper technology at hand.
- Time Consuming: Video conferencing takes up more time than methods such as text messaging. Additionally, it can sometimes be a hassle to schedule appointments and find matching availability.
Video Conferencing Tips:
- Test your video and audio software ahead of time to ensure good quality.
- Prepare by finding a quiet and well-lit environment.
- Have digital copies on hand of relevant documents or visuals and have a solid understanding of the screen sharing features.
- Best for Making Personal Connections: In-person meetings are hands down the best way to establish good rapport and make personal connections with clients. Many people, especially older clients, appreciate a face-to-face meeting where they can shake your hand and establish a sense of trust.
- Easy for Detailed Discussions: For clients who need more attention, these meetings are the way to go. When in person you can easily go into depth about plan details and address any concerns head on.
- Directness: When meeting in-person, the chances of your messaging getting lost or confused in translation is unlikely. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about technical errors occurring.
- Great for Visuals: You can use printed visual aids such as charts, webs, or infographics, to help people better understand complex topics.
- Time-Consuming: In-person meetings require you to take more time out of your busy schedule to sit down and talk with an individual. This can sometimes be tough during the busy season that is the OEP.
- Geographical Limitations: For clients that live a far distance away from you or your office, it can be difficult if not impossible to meet them in person.
In-Person Meeting Tips
- Since these meetings take up more time, be sure to schedule them far in advance.
- Prepare by putting together a portfolio of sorts with a variety of plan options and other relevant materials.
- Always arrive on time (if not ahead of time), and also be respectful of your client’s time.
- Detailed Information and Documentation: Sending emails is a great way to send your clients important documents or detailed information like plan summaries. Simply pull your digital documents up, and attach them to your message.
- They Aren’t Time Sensitive: When sending messages and documents via email, clients can review the information at their own pace.
- Trackability: Many email software will enable you to be able to see when a client opens or interacts with your email, helping you gauge where they are in the purchasing process.
- Missed Messages: Lots of people have inboxes that are cluttered with hundreds of junk emails. This can make it easy for someone to miss your email entirely or mistake it as spam.
- Lack of Personal Touch: Sometimes an email can appear less personal, as they may seem like they are generic messages being sent to a plethora of people.
- Be as clear and concise in your subject lines and avoid phrasing that looks like spam or advertisements.
- Include any relevant links or attachments upfront, so the client will have all the necessary information at hand.
- Personalize your message whenever possible, to avoid giving off a generic feeling.
Tips for Identifying Client Preferences
- Ask your clients during your initial conversation about their preferred method of communication.
- Be flexible and adapt to your client’s preferences. Some clients may like to use multiple different methods, so go with the flow and prioritize their needs.
- Follow-up with your clients consistently, but don’t overwhelm them. Sometimes a good tactic is to mix it up using a variety of different communication methods.
- Educate your clients ahead of time, telling them about all of the different communication methods that you offer.
- Especially when dealing with video calls or other technology, make sure to give your clients clear instructions and be available to help them if they have trouble.
- When using digital technology to communicate, respecting your clients privacy and data is a must.
Wrapping it Up
The OEP is usually hectic for all parties that are involved. As an insurance agent though, it is on you to prepare sufficiently to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by offering your clients a variety of different communication methods. It’s also equally important to treat every client as a unique individual, and tailor your methods to fit their personal preferences. There is no solution that will fit everybody, so be sure to be adaptable and flexible during this process. By being proactive and listening carefully to your clients, you’ll easily be able to gauge what they prefer and in turn, the OEP will be less stressful for everyone.
If you are an insurance agent who is looking to get in touch with more interested consumers during this OEP, we’ve got the answer for you! At Benepath we offer insurance agents of all types exclusive insurance leads to help boost your contact rate and sales. We offer both data leads and inbound phone calls which are always produced in real-time in a variety of verticals including: individual health, group health, Medicare, life and commercial insurance. If you learn more about upping your game with our insurance lead services, fill out a form today, or give us a call at 888-684-3121.