94746623_MIf you surveyed your customers, what would they say about your agency and the level of customer service you provide? Customer service is an important part of any business and plays a large role in creating loyal customers. An insurance agent who provides great customer service is much more likely to have loyal customers who purchase additional types of coverage and recommend him or her to other people. On the other hand, the effects of bad customer service can be significant.

Consider this:

Poor customer service costs U.S. businesses more than $75 billion a year. According to NewVoiceMedia’s Serial Switchers report, U.S. consumers today will readily switch from one company to another if their needs aren’t met. In fact, 67 percent of consumers have become “serial switchers,” meaning that they are more than willing to switch companies — and often do so — because of a single poor customer experience. Main reasons for switching: Not feeling appreciated, not getting answers to their questions, rude/unhelpful employees and being passed around to multiple people or otherwise not having their needs met.

Once they leave, they won’t come back. All it takes is one bad experience to ruin a relationship with even the most loyal of customers, and it’s not very easy to win them back. According to one study, 91% of unhappy customers will never come back to the companies they left. This is especially true in the insurance industry — today’s consumers have many choices when it comes to buying insurance.

Even if they don’t leave immediately, you’ll have to work hard to keep them over the long term. Research shows that it takes about one dozen positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. It is possible to work things out with an unhappy customer, but that initial experience can never truly be erased.

Bad experiences are shared at twice the rate of positive experiences. When someone has a bad experience with a company, they often share it with other people in person and on social media.

As an agency grows, it can be difficult to ensure that all customers are getting a high-quality experience when they call or stop in your office. That’s why surveying customers is so important. Formal surveys can be effective. But you also can gather a lot of important information by calling or e-mailing a segment of your customer base and simply asking how you’re doing and what you can do better. They key is to identify — and change — anything that’s creating a negative experience for your customers.