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Have you fallen into the complacency trap? If so, it's time to get fast as you can.

Complacent agents sell policies and then touch base with their insureds only during the holidays and at renewal time. If that's how you are running your agency, it's time to consider what you are taking for granted.

A complacent approach may have worked well in the old days, but times have changed. Now more than ever, insurance brokers need to go the extra mile for customers.

Simply put, if you want to keep the business, you have to earn the business.

What's Changed in the Insurance Market?

There are three key reasons why you have to work harder to keep your customers:

  1. A Higher Customer Service Bar. Your competition is no longer limited to other independent agents. In the customer service arena, you are competing against all the other customer service experiences your customers experience. The standard for what customers expect from their vendors has risen over the years. These days, if you are standing still, you are falling behind.
  2. More Efficient Access to Information. The Internet gives your customers instant access to information. That means they can easily learn about competitive alternatives. If they learn about other options and you aren't paying much attention to them, they may be considering switching.
  3. Switching Insurance Companies Is Easier Than Ever. If a customer decides they want to switch insurance brokers, it's now easier than ever to switch. Today, it can be done quickly and easily via the Internet. Online tools let insurance buyers compare carriers and policies online and instantly request quotes. So, if you're not pleasing your customers, they can switch to a new broker or carrier fast. All the more reason to keep them happy, don't you think?

So how do you avoid the complacency trap? It's all about offering valued services to your customers.

Insurance isn't just about minimizing the damage when an incident occurs. You have to offer more services to justify your fees. Here are a few ideas:​​

  • Conduct a Worst-Case Role Play Scenario. Clients should never be surprised to find out that their insurance is inadequate at the time of a claim. Offer to hold a half-day session with your customer in which you walk through some worst case scenarios. For example, if a burglar broke into your customer's office and walked off with all their computers and their personnel files, what would be the result? Sure, you can talk about the insurance claim they'll have to make and make sure they have adequate coverage. But, you might also serve as a catalyst to getting them to improve their computer data backup procedures and put copies of important personnel files in an offsite storage facility. In doing so, you've gone beyond the role of insurance salesman and entered the realm of trusted business advisor. Is that going the extra mile for your customer? You bet!
  • Offer to Lead a Safety Meeting for Your Customers' Employees. One insurance broker assists a customer in educating employees about workplace safety issues and discusses best practices for safety in the workplace. As a result, the insured avoids unnecessary medical costs, liabilities, workers' compensation increases and production stoppages from employee injuries. By doing this as a free service, the broker has ensures that his customers will never leave.
  • Help Out with Advice. If you sell insurance to businesses, can you advise your insureds on human-resource issues, OSHA compliance, managing workers' comp risks, premium financing and other business matters? Why not go to your business customers and explain insurance benefits whenever they hire new employees? If you sell to individuals, is there some wisdom you can pass along that will help you to earn and keep their business? Take an inventory of what you know and determine what you can share with your customers.
  • Stay in Front of Your Customers. The more interactions you have with your customer, the better. Call them with advice. Email them advice. Fax them advice. Send them a newsletter with advice. They'll never leave you if they feel that they are important to you, so do whatever it takes to make them feel important... and help them to be successful.
  • Measure Your Customer Service. You can't improve it if you can't measure it. To bring your customer service up to the highest possible standard, benchmark where you are today and set goals for improvement. How quickly are phones answered? What's the level of assistance provided in filing, processing and following up on claims? How long do you take process new client applications? How many times a month do you provide customers advice on non-insurance topics?
Is a customer of yours thinking about switching to a new broker or carrier tomorrow? That's something you can't possibly know. You can only do your best to keep them happy.

To get the ball rolling, try listing five things right now that you can do to provide more value to your insurance clients. Pick one to implement next month and resolve to improve customer service month after month in the future.