The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) for 2021 coverage starts October 15, 2020 and ends December 7, 2020. That’s roughly 13 weeks away so now is the time to start communicating with your clients and prospects.
During social distancing, seniors may be feeling isolated, so proactive communication is more important than ever. While you can’t communicate specific Medicare Insurance plan information yet, you can send helpful information to help build your relationships. Strive to reach out eight times between now and AEP.
Below are 8 ideas that you can consider implementing. Review these ideas and consider one or all of the ways you can improve your communication, connection and potential referrals from your warm list of active clients.
Eight Ways to Connect
Connection #1: The “Here for You During COVID” Update
Have you changed the way you communicate because of the pandemic? For example, maybe you’ve switched to Zoom meetings. Make sure your clients know about these options and that you are still available for them despite everything that’s happening. Let them know that you welcome text messages and invite them to connect with you through social channels. Some agents are calling clients every week to generate activity and retention early.
Connection #2: Communication Preferences
Take the opportunity to update your CRM or Excel database by calling clients to verify that all your contact information is accurate. Ask for clients’ communication preferences as well. While you’re chatting, be sure to document other relevant information you may learn. Information to gather may include:
- Do they prefer phone calls, emails or text messages?
- Is it OK if reach out via all three channels?
- Are they active on Facebook? If they are, follow them and ask them to follow you.
- What platform do they prefer for remote meetings? (such as Zoom, Facetime, Teams)
- When is their birthday and anniversary (if applicable)?
- What holidays do your clients celebrate?
- What hobbies do they enjoy?
Of course, you may not glean all this information in one call. This should feel like chatting with a friend and the questions should never be forced. This could be combined with #1 when on the phone or already in contact with your client.
Connection #3: Thank You for Your Business
At least once a year, send a hand-written thank you card to clients telling them how much you appreciate their business. Mid-year (July) is a great time to do so. Be sure to enclose a few business cards in case they feel inspired to share them with their friends.
Connection #4: Holidays and Special Dates
A client’s birthday is a great opportunity to send a card. This achieves two goals. First, it shows that you care. Second, it reminds the client that you’re available to help with anything that comes up during the year.
Keep track of your clients’ birthdays, along with any other special days you’d like to commemorate, such as a beloved pet’s birthday, an anniversary or a holiday. You can even celebrate the anniversary of the date you first met the client.
Also, reach out to extend your good wishes on holidays that your clients celebrate.
Connection #5: Medicare Updates
If your client uses email, it’s easy to quickly share relevant links with a brief note. There’s no shortage of important updates related to the Medicare and health insurance. Just make sure you’re using reliable sources, like Medicare.gov, CMS and the CDC, so you don’t contribute to the spread of misinformation. Possible current topics include:
- Medicare coverage of testing and treatment
- Telehealth benefits
- New scams to watch out for
- CDC recommendations on social distancing, the use of masks, and other health issues
Follow the WAP Facebook page where you’ll find a steady stream of shareable information.
Connection #6: Fun Updates
Take the relationship-building up a notch by sending clients fun and helpful information such as:
- Information on hobbies your clients enjoy – such as gardening or golf
- Recipes and tips on eating well
- Tips on fitness and exercise
- Virtual adventures
- New medical research and recommendations for seniors
Always keep your communication professional, fun and personal. Avoid anything this is political or religious.
Connection #7: Retention Letter
Start working on your retention letter now, so it’s ready to put into the mail on September 1. A template is available in the Marketing area of the new Medicare Engine. Be sure to follow all the compliance guidelines that are outlined in the downloadable template. Run your letter by compliance@WesternAssetProtection.com to make sure it’s compliant.
Connection #8: Tech Prep
You will probably have to conduct your enrollment meeting remotely. Start helping your clients get comfortable with the technology now. Work in their preferred platform if possible. Or, offer to set aside some time to guide them through the program you use. Watch for more ideas on this topic in future articles. Also, WAP will soon be rolling out a new online enrollment tool to streamline the process. Watch for details coming soon.
As you communicate with clients, remember these compliance tips:
- Use a 12-point font size.
- Don’t add carrier names or logos, or discuss any 2021 plan benefits, premiums or copays before October 1.
- In your letter and email signature, include TTY: 711 after your phone number and note that the call will be answered by a licensed agent. Also, include your hours of operation.
It’s much easier to retain a client and create raving fans than finding new clients. We hope these are a few ideas that can help you maximize your retention and referral potential this AEP.
Create your AEP plan. Work the plan. Aim for success. You can do this!
Here’s to your best AEP ever!