Making Time for Customer Service
In working with independent agencies across United States, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with individuals at all levels of the organization. The conversations with agency leadership usually focuses on organizational goals, emerging risks and industry trends. There is another group though that I enjoy speaking to; the agency support staff. These roles are comprised of hard-working, no nonsense employees who handle data entry, phone calls and manage a never-ending list of activities in the agency management system. Their strongest attribute though? They have a passion for customer service.
An agency is commonly challenged with providing good customer service in an efficient and effective way. Customer service is a top priority on the agency website and in agency advertising, but do internal practices match the level of customer service you say you offer? Are support staff given the right tools and workflows to match the level of care you’re committed to providing every customer?
Here are just a few quick reminders for providing top customer service:
Define your customer service goals. Involve everyone from the agency in a discussion regarding what level of service you are going to provide to each customer. It is important to segment the business so that more time is spent in higher revenue generating accounts.
Match workflows with job descriptions. Consistent levels of customer service are essential. If the activity does not have an owner, it is likely to be missed or completed at varying levels of quality. This could create an unwanted E&O exposure for the agency.
Reinforce your value. Customers appreciate the one-on-one service you provide and trust that you are helping them protect their assets. This creates a unique selling opportunity as well as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship by providing education and conducting risk exposure reviews.
There is much more that goes in to providing best in class customer service, but these three recommendations are a quick and easy starting point to get you on the right path. Of course, there are some important internal procedures that accompany these recommendations.
Outline your customer service goals. Every agency should have a single page document which outlines the level of service that will be provided to individual customer segments. Included in this document are response times for inquiries, claims and change requests as well as renewal timelines and touchpoints.
Ensure that workflows include designated roles. Oftentimes agency workflows do not identify what role/person within the agency is responsible for completing the task. It is not a good practice to simply know who “usually does it”, it should be clearly documented and consistently executed.
Create/Update Educational Materials and Exposure Checklists. Whether an agency uses them or not, most know that risk exposure checklists are a good E&O risk mitigation tool. But they are also a great customer service tool. By reviewing a customer’s exposures, you create an opportunity to provide them with education regarding their exposures or where they may need higher limits. You can also create quick and easy information sheets that provide answers to common questions about certain lines of coverage.
By starting the internal conversation with these three tips, it can trigger additional important discussions. Agency staff should talk about where you may need to update workflows or customer-facing materials you use (or don’t use!). The key is to involve everyone in the agency, especially those individuals who are working with and speaking directly to the customers. Check for consistency among staff as well as any pain points they might be experiencing. Talk about balancing technology with personal touchpoints. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so take the time to figure out what works best and meets your needs as an agency.
As always, if you need help reviewing your workflows or implementing new ones feel free to reach out to any of the staff at Virtual Agency Solutions. We want to be your first call and your partners in providing top notch customer service!