What is the definition of giving good service? Is it taking care of the clients request or is it delivering an experience that builds trust, education and helps solve problems a client didn’t know that they had? For many agencies they are wedged in between a transaction and an experience. If consistency in delivery is what drives results, how can independent insurance agencies balance the workload, customer experience and flawlessly executing each transaction. In our most recent virtual training module we explore this issue with agencies across the country.
If your agency is interested in having us provide live virtual training for your team, please visit our online store or contact us for more information.
Building A Culture of Opportunity
Every insurance agency has its own culture, this is the norms, beliefs and actions that the collective takes on a day to day basis. For many insurance agencies their culture over looks opportunity to process transactions. There has been a lot of chatter in this insurance about being a sales or service culture, but I would offer that we today still do not see many agencies that are either. To label the agency as a service agency would mean the following:
- You call every client for renewal reviews
- Your team is operating the hours that are most convenient for your clients
- There is a refined and defined claims process
- You have a clear marketing strategy to your current clients to drive retention
- Each service process is clearly defined out in the agency to maximize the client experience
- Your office is set up to cater to your clientele for example if you love working with families there is a play area for kids
- You have service standards for communication, timeliness of remarkets and documentation
- No one ever goes to voicemail
- Retention is clearly tracked and discussed
This is just the tip of the ice berg, but the reality is if you are a service culture this is what it looks like. But most importantly:
You have a clear plan and intention of educating your clients on coverages and other lines of insurance that they currently need but do not have with you.
Educating your current customers is a SERVICE that you provide to ensure their financial future is protected from unknown risks. If we want to embrace being a service culture this has to be a clear intention. Now, this intention is not driven from a place of sale (while increasing revenue is always a great thing) but it’s driven from the opportunity to do the right thing.
How can we be a service culture if we aren’t committed to educating our clients to the real risks they face?
Why There is Resistance To Improving Coverage
If I was going to get my PHD, this would be my thesis. I have studied this and worked with agencies both in person and virtually to embrace this challenge and help teams overcome it. We have to start with where the resistance comes from, and then show account managers a clear path to success. Here are the common challenges we embrace with agencies:
- Busy: if we mention it takes time, if they are interested it takes time to quote, if they like it it takes time to bind, if they buy it its more service work for me. It’s easier to stay in my comfort zone, also few asks may move forward so it worth my time?
- Rejection: feeling rejected is not pleasant. Rather than receiving that rejection and working to strengthen skills many team members may avoid it all together.
- Pushy: it is believed that by making recommendations it’s being pushy. For many you think about the last time that they were in a bad sales process and nightmare flash backs take over and stop us in our tracks.
- Belief: It’s very difficult to sell a product you personally don’t embrace. If you don’t have life insurance or an umbrella policy it is hard to passionately educate someone else.
- Understanding: we all like to be experts before we can recommend policies, as partial underwriters we think of all the reasons they won’t take the policy or it may be difficult to underwrite and we talk ourselves out of asking before we get the words out.
The Insurance Ethical Dilemma
If all of the statements above are the perception of the team, it’s also their version of reality. These are the beliefs stopping them from taking the next step of education. As leaders and trainers/consultants we need to work to understand these concerns and start working through them to build a new more positive belief system.
The one belief that almost all agents have at the 50,000 foot view level is that they want to take care of the client. We need to expand what taking care of a client means to include educating them on coverages they may not know about. Let’s be honest, most people are spending their precious free time reviewing insurance. They rely on us to help them understand what they don’t understand.
We take the strong approach that it is everyone’s responsibility to educate clients on coverages so that they can make an informed decision. Let’s take sales out of the equation. Don’t worry about the S-E-L-L word, lets focus on education something that everyone in insurance can adopt and embrace.
Recommendation: Look at the list of reasons to resist offering coverage, which ones strike a cord with you?
Slowing Down to Speed Up
While the volume of work on many insurance agencies is increasing that does not mean that the first thing to get cut is educating clients and making recommendations. Agencies need to embrace efficiency, outsourcing and delegation to remain on top of work and doing the highest power of this position, education. We all need to slow down to speed up and realize that we may need to reach out of our comfort zone to accomplish the following:
- Slow down to take the extra 30 seconds to educate a clients- it pays you back with increased revenue to hire more people and happier client retention which means the agency can grow faster.
- Realize that when you educate someone you can’t be rejected. You have just taught them something that they didn’t understand if they choose to take or not is not the total point. It’s leaving the customer better informed and empowered to make decisions.
- Pushy only happens if that’s how you approach it. Education is not pushy its enlightening!
- On the products you aren’t the most comfortable with ask for more education, sharpen your skill set those questions will come up one way or another.
Every call that comes in to your agency can represent an opportunity to educate your clients on risks and products they didn’t know existed. We have to start with the intention and then add in the tools and the training.