Before the days of integrated marketing programs, independent agents or their customer service representatives picked up the phone and called customers in the hopes of retaining the business of the agency's most profitable clients.Times have changed. Today, it's too expensive and time-consuming for an agency to hunt and peck its way through a large client list looking for its most profitable customers-then conceive ways to keep them on board. And it's too expensive for agencies to have a marketing arm or customer service representatives who do anything more than sell, sell, sell.

Yet, identifying and retaining profitable customers remains a key business strategy for all carriers. In part, that's because new business is three- to five-times more expensive to write than the costs associated with retaining a profitable customer, according to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Alexandria. Va. In addition, more than six in 10 insurance customers who leave an agency never tell the agent they are departing. Yet when the agent gets involved in the renewal process, 85% of the customers take the agent's advice and stay.

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