Introduction: Example of Good Customer Service In Insurance
When I first started hitting the road and working with insurance agencies everyone told me that they gave great service. When I asked some questions about the agency’s strategy and approach to good customer service it turned out there was no strategy, process, or tracking to know it was good customer service.
The bottom line is all too often we assume we give good service but we don’t know how, why, or where.
The challenge with good customer service in insurance is this, everyone’s version of good is different. For me, it’s being proactive, educating me, and the ability to text me (yes please!).
For my mom, it’s someone who picks up the phone right away. For others it’s when I call in I get immediate service and it’s not a hassle.
For too long agencies have said they give good service but are not super clear on what that means.
This is NOT the example of good customer service in insurance:
- Answering the phone
- Returning phone calls
- Being nice
- Responding to customers
Why is this not good customer service?
It is just a baseline requirement. It’s a baseline expectation. Good needs to be better than this!
Insurance Phone Greeting: The First Impression Matters
The insurance phone greeting is the first start. It’s where everything begins. This is the first impression moment.
When we call a prospect agency I always call the main line. I want to hear how the person who answers the phone sounds and what they do.
Sometimes I’m fist bumping because they nail it and sometimes I’m prepping up a contract as I’m getting transferred because I know they need us.
We recommend every single agency has a phone call greeting and phone transferring process and plan. Bonus – it should also be role-played out.
Examples of Great Phone Greetings
One of my favorite temperature tests in insurance agencies is to find out how open-minded a front desk team is to changing up their greeting. Just go to your team and ask them which of these new phone greetings they would want to use starting this afternoon:
- It’s a great day at AGENCY NAME, how may I direct your call?
- Thank you for calling AGENCY NAME, how may I make this the best call of your day?
What do you get when you tell your team this? Do you get a smiley face or frown face?
Maybe they even laugh at you. The bottom line is – who’s agency is this? If you wanted the team to answer the phone anyway that is your right!
My second challenge with this is – what is the actual harm in trying it?
There is zero harm with one week of trying a new phone greeting. When you do try something new you have to remember:
- FFT: The Freaking First Time – the first time you try something new it will be awful
- Reps: If you get 10-12 reps in guess what it becomes easier
- Open mind: Take it as an opportunity to learn something new – try it as an experiment
If your agency is not willing to try a different phone greeting you have insurance customer service challenges.
Why Does Your Insurance Phone Greeting Matter?
Many agencies don’t think about their phone greeting, however, it’s an example of good customer service in insurance. Let’s break down how the insurance phone greeting and transferring impacts your clients.
- New Business: Many people shop their insurance to several different agencies. Your greeting can stand out and make an impression on the buyer
- Service Work: Clients call us with questions and problems we need to solve. We need to answer the phone with a smile and warm greeting. Remember some clients are already calling not happy. We have the opportunity to remind them that we are here to help not add to the problem
Phone Transferring & Good Customer Service In Insurance
A common occurrence in insurance agencies is unclarity in phone transfering. It sounds simple but it’s not. The main goal of whoever picks up the phone is to transfer the caller to the BEST person to take the call.
This is not always the person the caller requests. A great phone answering, greeting, and transferring process allows everyone to know what the agency’s intention really is.
However, many front desk team members are order takers and we need everyone to be strategic problem solvers. You have to meet the caller’s needs AND the agency’s needs.
We recommend you take the time in our 10 Process Course and map out your phone call greeting and training process.
Insurance First Call Resolution: Efficiency and Effectiveness
First call resolution for insurance agencies is not only efficient but super effective. Oftentimes agency team members have limiting beliefs about their ability to process quotes and service work over the phone in real time.
However, it can 100% be accomplished. You must wear a headset and be prepared for the right process. Think about it, how many times have you written something down only to realize you can’t read your own handwriting?
First call resolution is the strategy that when someone calls in you complete the transaction, including file documentation while on the call with the insured or prospect. It’s actually the preferred method for many insureds since they know it’s completed and they can also know the increase in premium if any.
In commercial lines, if you cannot make the change on a company website it would be preparing the change and sending it to the underwriter while on the phone with the client.
When you get your team into the idea of first-call resolution you want to share the following benefits:
- One and done – no trailing work or documentation
- Limited backlog – you can’t take a call on a call (I can’t tell you how many team members get backlogged because they have 6 tasks all half done)
- Improved Speed – the client has what they need and we limit back and forth
- Less Follow up – how often have you changed a vehicle and not shared the new premium with a client. When they get a bill, guess who they call?
We would all love to live in a world where the team could do one thing at a time. But that’s simply not the case. In today’s world, we need to get great at processing work over the phone so we can be efficient and effective.
The Myth: Can We Quote Insurance Over The Phone?
The fact is yes for 80% of our customers. You can quote a home and auto as well as a bop over the phone. You may have to change how you quote but you absolutely can.
Imagine this process:
- Headset on, multiple monitors ready
- New prospect calls in and you greet them and do some initial intake to understand the risk
- You open the rater/agency preferred BOP carrier
- You type the information as it is gathered directly into the system
- You may need a little side document to enter in details the agency needs but the carrier does not
- You rate the policy
- Personal Lines Rater: You share that you have an initial indication of which carrier is interested in your policies
- Commercial Lines: you get the rate with the preferred BOP carrier (remember we should not be spending time on small commercial policies shopping them to several carriers)
- Personal lines you bridge to the top carrier and firm up the quote – you deliver that number and see the client’s reaction
- If that quote will not work you firm up the next one or offer to review some other companies and call them back
Here is the bottom line. All of our quoting apprehension stems from not being comfortable. We can change that with practice and a great process. We actually review this in our 6 month insurance sales training program.
What To Expect When Talking About Insurance First Call Resolution
Let’s face it, in insurance, we are creatures of habit. We love to do the same thing over and over again and stay firmly in our comfort zone. However, agents who are not practicing first-call resolution are often backlogged, behind, and overly stressed. In this moment we must pick our discomfort.
The one-and-done model helps the agency, the team, and the insured.
The top objections to first call resolution we hear from the team include:
- People want to be off the phone with us, they don’t have time: There is no stopwatch they are calling you and need help.
- We don’t have the time the phone rings off the hook here: You can’t take a call on a call and wrap up one thing at a time. The backlog exists from saying yes to work and not having other work completed.
- I need to be off the phone to check my work: You can check it after the call and hit submit after you give it a once over.
- I don’t know what to say while I’m working on it, it will be awkward: when in doubt tell the client what you are doing or let them know you will place them on a brief hold.
- I don’t want to wear a headset. I don’t like them: This one makes me nuts – many people who don’t like headsets have never actually tried them. Remember it’s your agency if headsets are mandatory they are mandatory.
Follow-Up & Follow Through: Building Trust and Loyalty In Insurance
In our Agency Efficiency course we have a whole section on follow up and follow through (since this is an example of good customer service in insurance). We find that many agencies don’t really have a protocol around this. What ends up happening is that some clients and or some team members follow up too much or too little. There is a true lack of consistency in how to follow up. One of the biggest activities your team will do is follow up with each other, carriers and clients so it’s time to identify a true plan.
Recommended APP Follow-Up Strategy
To give an example of good customer service in insurance we need to make sure we are getting what we need from clients. However, we cannot care more about their insurance than they do. I find we sometimes follow up too much in insurance because it may make our jobs harder or we fear a producer or owner may question our work. When the agency has a clear follow-up protocol this whole debacle is unwound.
We take a 3 step approach to follow-up:
- When you request what is needed you identify the deadline with the client. Simply asking when they will be getting it to you OR letting them know the deadline you need identifies the first follow-up date (see below for more information on the deadline). You set your follow-up for that date.
- If you need to follow up we do so on the date agreed to (or the day after). You need to take a professional tone and let the client know they missed the mark.
- “Hello, this NAME with AGENCY NAME. When we spoke last you were going to send in an X by X date. I still have not received it. I would hate to see you have X happen (rate adjustment, cancellation, missed coverage). Please get back to me quickly so we can get this handled. My number is NUMBER.
- Set your reminder for 2 days after that. You call again with the same script. Set your reminder for the next day.
- Make your final attempt: “Hello, this is NAME with AGENCY NAME. I wanted to reach out to you one final time to request X. If we do not get it by X Date the following will occur. Please let us know how we can be of assistance.
Now for some of you reading this, these scripts may sound aggressive or harsh. Try this: read them out loud in your voice. Yes, your words. You will see they aren’t quite as harsh.
How To Pick A Follow-Up Deadline In Insurance?
Great question, part of giving good customer service in insurance is setting and managing deadlines. We recommend that you pick your agency’s deadline, not just the carrier’s deadline. What do I mean by that?
Safollow-uprier needs something by January 15th
What should your agency deadline be?
You need time to process it, follow up, and not stress. We have all stayed late waiting for a client to send us something and then it’s wrong. We have begged underwriters for exceptions.
We can avoid all of that by setting our agency’s deadline and then your stress and worry decrease. When you have less stress you can be an example of good customer service insurance.
Pick Up the Damn Phone
Yes you heard me. I will scream this from the mountaintop. Pick up the damn phone!
We rely way too much on email today, especially in commercial lines. Do you know how many emails a business owner gets – and most of them are fires they need to put out.
We all need to get better at using the phone to get what we need. I always recommend the phone/voicemail combo. Before you say it – no you aren’t bothering your client by calling and then sending them an email. You are asserting you need something from them to help protect what they work hard for.
Use the phone and your follow-ups will go faster. Use the phone/email combo you will be golden. This is an example of good customer service in insurance – getting what you need to do a great job for your client.
Conclusion On Example of Good Customer Service In Insurance
When I think of companies that provide good customer service a few come to mind me. Delta Airlines (some of you may disagree but I’m a million miller), 1stPhorm (they send me handwritten notes and bonus items with every order), and my local farmers market (you won’t hear more thank yous than shopping locally).
But I can tell you for all of these parties customer service is a strategy, it’s not random and it’s not by chance. It’s defined, outlined, and trained on. It’s something they monitor and measure. So when your agency says you give good customer service I always ask what you do that is great.
That answer needs to roll off your tongue!
If you need help that’s ok! That is why Agency Performance Partners exist to help agencies that want to grow to tackle their biggest challenges. We have digital, virtual, and in-person options for every size and shape of agency.
Don’t put off delighting your customers and your team. You can be an example of good customer service in insurance.