Let me explain. They probably like you as a person, they understand that as an insurance agent, you have a job to do and it doesn’t represent you personally. However trust me…they don’t like what we represent. We represent the “Insurance” company. The big conglomerate that does nothing but raise rates and not pay out claims (we all know that’s not the case, but I digress). When you see them on the street their nice, you might coach little league with them, play in a golf league, see them at community events and that’s awesome! However once you have the office surrounding you, game over…they don’t like you any more.
This has been the norm for quite some time and we’ve excepted it as it is. However, we also need to realize we are at a pivotal point in our industry as insurance agents. The direct carriers and even the carriers we represent are making it so much easier for the local “agent” to not be a factor, it allows our customers to simply think of us as the “middle man” so we are being cut out. Make no mistake, we need to prepare for the doomsday of the insurance agent, however if we are smart…we WILL prevail. But that’s an article for a different time.
So how can we mesh the personal “nice” guy/girl with the professional insurance agent so they are one in the same? Be the same person! It’s OK to talk business in personal life and vice versa. As long as you’re not trying to “sell” every step of the way you won’t come off as pushy. But there’s a catch…you HAVE to take a genuine interest in your clients lives…know about them, understand their situation (yes you can take notes…but use them!). As owners/agents it’s not hard for us to do this, the hard part comes in making sure the client feels this way throughout ALL experiences in our office. When our CSR answers the phone, when our sales person reaches out…are they doing so with care and genuine interest or because it’s part of the “job”.
Now, of course we cannot ever expect our staff to put the same effort and emphasis on service as we do…they don’t have the same stake in the game, so that’s not fair. But what we CAN do is make a very Black and White approach on how the entire agency handles things. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear a Rep (or even an agent) explain something to a customer and mention the carrier as “They”…this leaves a horrible taste in the customer’s mouth. You are separating you from the professional aspect of what you’re doing. This makes your agency sound not in control and therefor the customer’s security goes out the window. Plus once they hear the word “they” in reference to the carrier they smell BS…they know it’s a generic answer of “I can’t help you” or “I don’t want to help you”…so don’t do it…period. YOU represent the companies you write for (go ahead look it up in the contracts) so take pride and ownership of that! It’s not a bad thing.
The other thing that will make customer’s despise us less is to treat their situation Ho-hum…you want to set yourself apart? Congratulate them on their new car or house! Treat their claim like it’s something you DON’T handle everyday. Use empathy when they can’t pay their bill on time! I’m guessing these things sound familiar, right? Hey I only know because I made the mistakes and once I corrected them…it made a HUGE difference. SO coach up your staff to make these changes and the impact will be not only for the Agency’s benefit, but also for YOURS!
I’ve attached an awesome Job Aid for your staff to help with various situations