Agency Performance Partners


Posted on October 31, 2022 by Kelly Donahue Piro

When you look at your team’s customer service representative skills, are you happy, or is there room for improvement? Every agency’s roles can be different. 

Some agencies have licensed and or non-licensed customer service team members. Whether you have a license or not, every team member must be growth orientated. Any customer service team member can generate a referral or a google review. 

Many owners keep asking one critical question: 

How do we get service representatives to focus on growth in addition to service?”

Insurance customer service representatives need processes, procedures, and training. Yes, training! 

Sometimes that is easier said than done, but you can win with the right people and a consistent training plan

Agency leaders must ensure new service reps are trained on growth from day one. Also, agency leaders must help a seasoned team change beliefs and behaviors.  

Customer Service Representative Skills aren’t all gained solely by taking an insurance course or state exam. Some people are natural at building rapport with customers and passionate about people; that is all you need to get started.

Have a service person that has these skills? If your answer was YES, keep reading. If your answer was “NO,” keep reading because they aren’t hard to find, and we’ll give you the secret

The reality is the top agents have every team member in their agency focusing on agency growth through cross-selling, asking for referrals, and earning online reviews. This is how you train, influence, and motivate unlicensed staff and account managers to cross-sell and multiline current clients. 

Once it starts working, you no longer need to pay for leads or go prospecting; your book becomes the leads that bring you new business. A bonus to this is it will also increase your retention

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How and When Retention Automatically Increases

  • Clients have more policies with the agency
  • The customer has a relationship with staff in your office
  • Staff proactively calls clients to discuss/review policies or cross-sell business. 

Let’s review the following strategies agencies can use to increase sales numbers by training account managers and unlicensed staff to spin new business to producers by using stealth like 

Customer Service Representative Skills:

  • Building rapport = listening = making recommendations
  • Making clients feel comfortable and trust the agency, with trust comes opportunity!
  • Verifying information on each phone call can be a discovery to new or updated information discussions.

Remember that subtle changes to habits can change the trajectory of conversation, giving more value to the exchange for the client and better relationship building for staff.

Why Is It Hard to Build Customer Service Skills Around Sales

Sales is often a dirty word for more service-minded team members. Usually, if someone has a choice, they will choose service because there’s no obligation, and they don’t have to hear the word “no.” 

Also, many service team members prefer to take requests rather than make requests. To help clarify, many service team members are comfortable handling service requests; when we ask them to make recommendations, they can get a little overwhelmed. 

We focus with account managers on being an educator and having the heart of a teacher. There are ways to sell without selling. 

If you are a service agent, you don’t have to “make numbers,” so there’s less pressure. Overall if selling is looked at as hard, it will be, but we have to change it from selling to building rapport and educating our clients to understand what they need.  

Account managers and unlicensed staff can use their stories to take clients to places where they realize they need better or more coverage. 

People never think they’re natural salespeople. But most extroverts are good salespeople, depending on how they look at things. You can sell someone something by telling them your experience with the item or service, educating them, and referring them. Not necessarily always having sales in mind.

Many licensed and unlicensed customer representatives shy away from sales. They don’t always see themselves as salespeople. 

Salespeople have quotas and are pushy. We want every service person to have the heart of a teacher. Every service interaction is an opportunity to educate your client, and this is where we start building your insurance customer service representative skills. 
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How To Boost Customer Service Skills on Cross Selling

Your current customers call in every day. This is no doubt an opportunity for your team to make a recommendation. 

However, too many service team members fall into transaction mode. Transaction mode is when you handle the request from the client only. 

Customer experience is when the client requests that we review their account, educate them, and manage the transaction. We have broken down some ways licensed, and non-licensed agents can boost this service skill. 

Licensed Customer Service Cross Selling Skills

In our work with customer service representatives that are licensed, we like to provide them with a framework for an excellent customer service call:

  1. Greeting and identifying the need 
  2. Confirm contact information
  3. First call resolution – handle the request where possible on the phone with the client
  4. Offer a review – “While I have you, may I do a quick discount review?” Remember cross selling = discounts in many instances
  5. Confirm next steps
  6. Thank them for their business

It is always essential that we make the offer for a review! This challenges many account managers because they see the piles of work around them. The reality is there will always be piles of work around. 

What can be more important than the customer we have on the phone and ensuring they have the right coverage? 

Easy talking points for licensed agents for cross selling:

  • Where do you have your x policy?
  • When was the last time your x policy was looked at?
  • Did you know you may be missing the most significant discount we can offer? 
  • While I have you, are there any policies you have with other agencies? We are happy to review them. 


Non-Licensed Customer Service Cross Selling Skills

Many agencies shy away from non-licensed customer service representatives cross-selling. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Anyone can recommend getting a quote – and we mean anyone! Why not have the team of people who speak to clients the most help make recommendations?

Here are a few scenarios they can turn into opportunity:

  • When clients call or walk in to pay, staff can remind them to pay in full or set up automatic withdrawals. If they refuse and always ask when their payment is due, let them know that they can add a reminder to their cell phone calendar every month. Also, encourage them to get on EFT and see if they want a review of other policies since they are right there. 
  • When clients call, ALWAYS verify the information. Change what information you confirm each month: January=phone number, February=address, March=drivers, April=vehicles, May=email, etc. Pick the items vital to do business or understand the client to write more business or retain. When verifying information, you may catch information that is incredibly important to the agency and the clients’ benefit. By choosing different things to verify, you can justify it and show the benefit to the client by expressing how often our lives change and how we want their insurance to keep up with their lifestyle. The only way to do that is for us to know the information. You can always tell them that if they know anyone needing help on their insurance, the agency is happy to speak with them!
  • Have staff answer phone calls with a question: “Good afternoon this is Mary. How can I make your day great?” You can also change this monthly, and it gets conversations started and helps distract everyone from going right to what is needed (like making a payment). 

We have compiled a few non-licensed tee up talking points your team can use:

  • So we may have it on file. Where do you have your x policy?
  • I noticed you are missing the multi-policy discount. I’ll have the agent review it with you.
  • While you are here, we always recommend a review of your coverage. Let me get someone. 

We have also included a few more scripts your team can use to get started: 

  • Good afternoon John. How are you today? As I get the system ready for payment, I noticed that you only have your auto with our agency. Do you rent or own your home?
  • Hello Sally, now that you have three cars and your son was added as a driver, I’m going to take a minute and explain and quote an umbrella policy for you.
  • Hi Charlie, I see you have three vehicles on the policy; they are a 2012 Chevy Silverado, 2022 Toyota Highlander, and a 2025 Honda Accord , are there any other vehicles, boats, or motorcycles we need to insure?

How To Boost Customer Service Skills on Referrals

Even sales agents can be squeamish about asking for referrals. We know that most people will give a referral when asked, but it seems that the asking is very difficult. Here are some common reasons we struggle to ask for referrals:

  • Don’t want to sound pushy
  • We are unsure how to ask
  • It’s unclear when to ask in the call
  • There’s a belief this is a sales agent’s job
  • We plain forget to do it

In order to make a referral request consistently, we recommend making it a game! Why not challenge yourself to do two asks per day and keep a checklist at your desk? Celebrate when you get to 10 questions! Remember, anyone licensed or unlicensed can be a referral champion! 

Here are some ideas on how you can ask for referrals:

  • Now that we have completed your auto policy today, do you have any friends or relatives that need my help with their insurance?
  • My customer base is highly based on customers like you and the service I provide. Is there anyone you can think of that would like me to review their insurance and save them time and money?
  • Now that we have completed your business insurance and you are all set, is there anyone else you know that owns a business that I could call to help with their insurance?

If you asked for referrals consistently, you could reduce your marketing spend and generate great high quality easy-to-close opportunities. Of course, you want to ask for referrals from your best clients! Earning referrals is great confidence for your team. 


When it comes to lead referral generation, the customer experience is it. ~ John Jantsch

Boost Customer Service Skills when Asking For Reviews

Online reviews are like little thumbs up online. People looking for help with insurance can be paired with your agency. The opportunity sees that other people like them have had a good experience and feel more comfortable reaching out to you. 

Online reviews are a great way also to reward and recognize your team – many times clients will leave your team members’ names!

As a business owner, you’ll get some online reviews organically (you can also get some not-so-good reviews) but having an ask strategy will guarantee you can boost your organic ranking and show the community that you are the best agency in town!

Here are some common hangups the customer representative team may have around online reviews:

  • They wouldn’t have ever left an online review personally, so the procedure is foreign (but I bet they’ve used them!)
  • Asking seems like showboating. If people are happy, they will naturally leave a review
  • Unclear who to ask and where to point them to
  • Uncertain if someone is happy enough to leave a review

We have some simple ideas on how to make it asking for online reviews easy for your team:

  • Have an email template handy, so the team can ask and send them the email to get the review
  • Reward your team when a client mentions their name in a review – create an incentive program
  • Create a text template – if a client can get a text and do it from their phone, its a win
  • Have signs in the office and or flyers – that the team can point to 
  • Share your reviews online, and it can encourage others to share!
  • Similar to the referral ask – target a certain number of asks every day. Asks = reviews!

Here are a few scripts on how to ask for an online review:

  • If you’ve been happy with our service, would you mind leaving us a Google review?
  • Have I given you 5-star service today? If so, may I text you a link to leave a review?
  • We love referrals, and a great way to share your experience is an online review. May we ask you to leave one to help support a community business?

“Customers who love you will market for you more powerfully than you can possibly market yourself.” Jean Bliss Co-Found of the Customer Experience Professional Association

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Many customer service representatives see themselves as more transactional – they do precisely what the client asks. However, many agencies are working on changing their culture to be more growth and customer experience minded. 

Having a positive mindset will allow them to be open enough to view change as a positive thing. Many people don’t like change. In your agency, if cross-selling isn’t happening, or what everyone is doing right now isn’t working; it is time to make changes, create new habits, and meet with staff. 

That is where Agency Performance Partners come in. We can come beside your agency and help reform your team and teach them ways to build rapport without seeming sales pitchy. 
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