Let’s face it; a customer’s experience is everything. I say that because many insurance professionals believe that people do business with their agencies because we provide great service. My belief on great service stems from the idea that we receive a significant commission by providing great service, so I feel that every single one of my clients should expect to receive outstanding service from my agency and myself.
I believe there are three major points in a customer’s experience. It doesn’t really matter if I think that I have provided great service or my staff has provided great service. All that matters is the service that my client experienced with our office.
You Can Hear Us Smiling!
First and foremost, this stellar customer service experience begins with how we answer the phone. As we all know, the first impression is everything. I coach and remind my staff all the time that we need to answer the phone in a positive manner, because it can have a lasting positive effect on our prospect or client’s rest of the day. This is perhaps one of the most important and simple ideas that your agency can practice because there are so many agencies out there that answer the phone as though it’s an inconvenience.
I tell everybody in our office that no one is bothering us because the people that are calling us are the same people who are paying our salaries. A great way to manage how people are answering the phone is to record calls. I would highly recommend that agencies record calls for two reasons:
1) to make sure the customer experience is going well, and
2) no one can truly understand what a customer may be going through when they’re reaching out to our office.
Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
The second point of our discussion relates to our set of expectations in handling a new prospect or client. If a customer calls for an insurance quote, we set a timeline expectation for when they should hear back from our office. I personally feel this is extremely important because people need to know in today’s fast paced world when to hear back from our agency. This is so important because I place myself in the same situation as a specific prospect that may be calling for insurance quote, and I personally would like to know when I can expect a phone call back.
As an agency owner, I realize that things occur during the day and sometimes we cannot meet the expectations of what we have originally set, but it’s critical to inform a client that if we say we’ll return your call at 3 o’clock, we will actually call them back at 3 o’clock, even if we do not have their quotes finalized. If this occurs, pick up the phone to reach out to the client and apologize for not being able to complete the quote but explain that you’re reaching out to keep in touch. It’s all about the communication with the client or prospect.
Don’t "Drop The Ball” at the Buzzer
The third point is the follow-through. Following through with what we have promised and/or have set as expectations is critical. For example, if we have recently quoted a piece of business and the client has suggested that we contact them within two days so that they could have time to review the quote with their spouse, we as an agency need to follow through with the expectations that our clients have set forth. Without the follow-through, you will simply become a professional estimator, and remember professional estimators are not paid very well.
As I write this article, I think of a great friend of mine who is an agency owner in New Jersey named Nick San Filippo, who always reminds me of the importance of how the customer perceives your service to be. Remember, it’s not about us, it’s all about the customer and their experience.
Chris Paradiso is the newest member of the AIMS Society board of directors. See more from Chris at Paradiso Presents, LLC.