No agent, broker or sales force is truly in business on their own. Even sole proprietors rely on the help of others to get their clients the insurance coverage they need. The other people whom the proprietors rely on include their back-office staff and employees as well as the service personnel within the insurance companies.
With an increasing number of competitors fighting for your clients’ business and more and more companies trying to get you to contract through them, we must make customer service a top priority.
Putting Clients First
Here is what we have done to make customer service a top priority.
We created a path to the customer-service experience we want our clients to have. Customer service is a primary driver for referrals, making this one of our most important things to get right. The support we get from the team behind us directly impacts the support we can give to our clients. Here are our considerations:
» Your team is more than you and your staff. It’s also the back office you go through. If you need to get something, how will they jump into action for you? Most jump right in and help you with illustrations and sales presentations with almost superhuman speed. But after you make that sale, are they still there? If you can’t answer a question, do they help? Are they easily reachable? Our marketing partners need to be real partners. That means we want their help with sales; we want their help with service. All clients need to know is that they called us, we handled it, and they can go on to enjoy their day.
» How accessible is the insurance
company if you need an answer directly from the “horse’s mouth”? If you are an agent working for the insurance company directly, this is not an issue. For the rest of us who broker independently, this can be a big deal.
I have one company that refuses to allow us to assist our clients, telling us to have the client call them directly. On the opposite end, there is a company that gives us a direct representative whom we call for virtually every issue we have in terms of sales and service. Clients call us, and with one phone call or email, we can get the problem looked into and it’s almost always handled.
» When both of my parents needed insurance, guess where I put them without hesitation? When clients let me choose the company, that’s how I pick. I pick not by price, but by service! When we put the focus on service, referrals go up, sales go up, client retention is phenomenal, and customer satisfaction is through the roof!
» What is a client’s experience in reaching you? Here’s a fun experiment: Have a friend try to call in with a question. It can relate to anything — from a claim issue to a request for a sales appointment. Then have the friend tell you what they thought of the experience. We are very sensitive to how our clients reach us. Do they always get a machine first? Can they understand the person who picks up the phone? How quickly can they get to you, and how hard is it?
In our practice, our clients have our cell phone numbers and know there’s a chance they could get voicemail if they call those numbers. But there’s also an office number, and during work hours, there’s always at least one person there to take the call.
Our first test by a client is how well we can be reached if they need us. We try to make sure this experience is first-rate. Everything old is new again, and people are tired of talking to machines that tell them that “your call is important to us.” We try to show callers how important it is by answering the phone.
From soup to nuts, we make it obvious that our clients come first. Our partnerships behind the scenes, both the partnerships clients will never speak with and the ones who are the first contact in their moments of crisis, are a major factor in our success equation. Having a team that helps us support our clients’ needs during and after a sale has been that magic ingredient that has allowed us to gain more sales, more generational business, more referrals and nearly perfect client retention.