A while back, I had ordered internet for the house through my wireless carrier. The package with the router showed up, and I could not wait to set it up. I followed the instructions included in the box but couldn’t get the router to connect to the internet.
The first thing I did was to go online to troubleshoot the problem; this didn’t work. Then, I tried the chat, but they didn’t open for another hour. I spent this time analyzing my bill which I hadn’t looked at for almost two years. I found that I had a device warranty that cost $25 a month. I didn’t remember buying this coverage.
I was very eager to save money and get my internet working again so when the service center opened, I called immediately. However, after being on hold for 10 minutes, I tried a different number that was on my bill.
What happened next was disappointing. I was greeted by the most unfriendly voice, “Wireless Carrier, what can I do for you today?”
I launched into my plight but was interrupted, “That’s not my department. You will need to call…” When I asked if they could transfer me, they simply said “NO” and hung up. By this point, I had already invested over an hour to look at my bill, get mad about things I didn’t understand, and then get put off by a very unfriendly customer service representative.
I took a deep breath and called the new number, mentally prepared for another mediocre service experience.
When I called the other number, to my surprise, a very friendly voice answered, “Thank you for choosing Wireless Carrier, my name is Amanda from Tacoma; how can I help solve your problem today?“.
I was taken aback by her greeting. Immediately, my defenses lowered, and I rambled on about my internet not working and the warranty I didn’t know I had, and the fact that I had already called once and how that the person was not helpful. It was a full-on therapy session with my concerns and needs spilling out of me like a leaky faucet.
Amanda then paused and said, “Ok, let me make sure that I understand exactly what you are calling about. We need to look into why you aren’t able to activate your home internet and also need to cancel the device warranty that has been on your account for more than two years. Do you mind if I ask why you suddenly want to cancel this valuable service?”
I told her that I vaguely remember purchasing the service and haven’t used it since I got it. She explained that it was like an insurance policy for all of my electronic devices, not just my phone but also my TV, laptop, etc.
I suddenly saw the value in the coverage and told her to leave it alone.
Before we continue with the story, let’s provide an APP UPDATE. We like to do this because we want you to know how passionate we are about insurance agency excellence and the esteemed privilege to work with agencies who want to complainers into cheerleaders.
How to Turn a Complainer Into a Cheerleader!
She then pulled up my home internet information and explained that my service didn’t start for two more days. Then, she let me know that if I needed it now, she could adjust the billing to make it active immediately. I told her I could wait the two days.
Amanda gave me the number to call if I couldn’t get it to work when it was time to try again. She then reviewed all of the devices on my account and their usage and suggested that I change the data plan on a couple of tablets we rarely use and increase the data on my primary phone.
Amanda finished the call by telling me that one of my phones was ready for an upgrade and asked if she could text me a link to look at options online. I said, “Yes“.
I left the call calm, happy, and spending more money. I began telling everyone about the outstanding service I received from Wireless Carrier. Amanda converted me into a cheerleader from a complainer.
I share this story because after sitting down and thinking about all the calls I’m on each and every day, I wondered if I was providing the same service to each person as Amanda had achieved with me. I wrote down what impressed me when I was talking with other customer service professionals.
It came down to 7 simple items. This is the exact reason your agency needs insurance customer service training.
“You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.”
~ Jeffrey Gitomer, Author & Professional Speaker
The Challenge with Providing Great Service Over the Phone | Insurance Customer Service Training
One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen with providing excellent customer service over the phone is that we get in our way:
- We’re in a hurry and project that every client is in a hurry
- We think we know the answer to the question that hasn’t been asked yet
- We bring our own problems into the call
- We start our defensive instead of friendly
- We haven’t had insurance customer service training to have a plan
7 Steps to a Great Service Call | Insurance Customer Service Training
Step 1: First Call Resolution
Most calls can be handled in the first call. When faced with a difficult situation, our first reaction is to want to put the problem off until later “when we have more time“. This time rarely comes. Whether the call is difficult or easy, we should always attempt to address the concern or request while on the phone with the customer the first time.
If you’re unsure of the answer or need additional assistance, let the client know that you’ll need to place them on a brief hold while you look into their question. If the client is calling with a simple change, take care of it while you’re on the call. This will ensure that the client is still available to discuss what was required if any additional questions or information is needed.
If you’re not the appropriate person to manage the situation, be sure to do a warm transfer to the right person. Let the person to whom you’re transferring the call know the client’s name, policy information, and a brief description of why you’re transferring the call to them.
Step 2: Follow Up and Follow Through
In the rare situation that you cannot answer the question or fulfill the need of the client during the first call, you must set a time to reconnect with the client in that call. Remember that while you have multiple calls in a day, your call might be the only one the client has that day.
When you do not set a time to return their call, they might become anxious and reach out to you to ensure they didn’t miss your call. That’s why you must do what you promised the client that you would do. If an exception comes up, such as a delay in underwriting or the dog ate your computer, reach out to the client and give them an update on their request.
Step 3: Fix your Face
This is one of my favorite things to do. Mostly because I have an expressive face! When you’re getting ready to answer the phone, take a deep breath and put a smile on your face. The simple act of smiling comes through on the phone and can help put the client at ease and change their attitude.
This is critical to consider especially when dealing with a high-stress situation or an angry client. A quick tip is to use your camera (or a mirror) to see what your face looks like while talking to clients. The client can sense when you’re tense, distracted or indifferent and will increase the tension during the call.
When you’re stressed, the client will get more stressed. When you fix your face and remain calm, it’ll make the experience better for the client and for you.
Step 4: Slow Down to Speed Up
Slow it down. We’re always rushing from task to task, trying to keep up. But when we stop and take a moment to refocus, we can get more done in less time. When a client calls us, we should not treat it as an interruption. It’s an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with the client, solve problems they may not be aware of, and ensure the client feels they’re the only client we have.
Without clients, we wouldn’t have a job.
People pick independent agents and not call centers because they want to do business with someone they know, like, and trust. By slowing down and taking a few extra moments to talk with the client (not to the client), we build the relationship and make future calls faster because we earned their trust.
A few extra minutes today can save hours over the life of the customer.
Step 5: Focus on What you Know
We’ve all been blindsided by the most random questions. Take a moment before responding. Rephrase the question if it is unclear or ask the client for more information. If you genuinely don’t know how to answer the question, that’s ok. But, do not make a big deal and lose your confidence.
Focus on what you do know: how to be a fantastic agent. Wow the customer with your service skills. Put them at ease by assuring them that you’re on top of it. Then let them know that you’ll get the answer for them.
Step 6: Recap
Confirm, Confirm, Confirm. Make sure that what the client has requested is being completed. When you recap the conversation with the insured, it shows that you were listening. This also will help to avoid any misunderstandings. The best calls are two-way conversations. Let them talk, then respond. Don’t forget to follow up with a quick email or text when necessary, but don’t rewrite the entire conversation to try and cover your assets.
Step 7: Document
If you don’t document the exchange with the client in your management system, the exchange cannot be proven that it ever occurred. Not only do the log notes help in the event of a loss, they prove valuable when servicing the account, in general.
When the client calls in, take a moment to review the last few log lines in the file. Look to see if they’ve had any recent life changes or claims.
- Did they buy a new home or vehicle?
- Talk to them about it. People insure the things they care about.
- What if the policy was recently canceled?
- Bring it to their attention, this may have been accidental.
- If this is the first time you have talked to the client, you can review notes on pets, hobbies, etc., to make the call feel friendlier.
Accurately documenting all communications with the client ensures that anyone in the agency can assist if the need arises.
“It is not your customer’s job to remember you, it is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.” – Patricia Fripp, Professional Keynote Speaker
Answer every call as if it’s your first call of the day. Treat every customer the way that you would like to be treated.
Remember that without customers, we wouldn’t have a job.
- Smile through the phone.
- De-escalate the situation by remaining calm.
- Summarize and document all interactions with the client.
- Show pride in your work, stay confident and take a moment to shine every time.
- If you become overwhelmed or have a difficult situation, take a quick break before getting on the next call.
A great interaction starts with insurance customer service training. Don’t assume your team knows what you want or how to handle clients. With insurance customer service training, your team will be empowered to turn a transaction into an experience.