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Can an insurance carrier and its agent hold a client hostage? Short of any statutory prohibition, the answer appears to be yes. Without a law to the contrary, the contractual agreement between an insurance carrier and its agent appears to allow for “special consideration” regarding the recognition and acceptance of an agent of record (AOR) request. But is this a good idea – or even legal?
Upset customers can be unnerving. But with the right attitude and techniques, many of these people can be turned into satisfied, loyal customers. It's not always easy, but it's worth it. In this article, I'll present 14 tips that you can use to calm upset customers...half deal with general principles and half target specific behaviors and responses that you can learn and control.
I received a renewal billing on my Business Owners Policy from my insurance company. Examining the billing, I found four very surprising things: (1) I had a new agent, (2) the policy period had been changed from 3 years to 1 year, (3) the deductible had doubled, and (4) the annual premium had risen by 25%. Here's the full story....
Think about ethics for a moment. A seminar on the topic might be expected fare for lawyers or politicians [or insurance agents? - Ed.]. But wouldn’t you find it unusual as the topic of a three-day conference for real estate agents? I did, yet I observed 1,500 people listen attentively and respond enthusiastically at Neil Jenman’s ninth annual conference recently. Here's why....
Does your agency provide good service? Do your companies provide good service? How do you know? One way of finding out is to put yourself in your customer's place. You may be surprised (and saddened) by what you find.
It is easy to work with people you like, and it is even easier to work with people who like you. But that's not always the case. Sooner or later, you'll have to deal with a difficult customer. Fortunately, there is a process I call 'Cracking the Egg' that you can use to deal with difficult customers.
Good customer service is not enough! Customer satisfactionis not enough! Success in business requires an integratedmarketing and communication approach that will result inthe cultivation of nexus. This article explains the conceptof a 'nexus' and how it applies to your effective deliveryof customer service.
Mary Sandro helps companies and professionals achieve results through effective presentations, exceptional customer service, and innovative hiring techniques. She is available to speak on these topics. For more information visit her web site at:http://www.ProEdgeSkills.com or call 800-731-0601.
For eons (it seems), the persons directly servicing clients in the agency have been referred to as 'Customer Service Representatives' (CSRs), or sometimes 'Customer Service Agents (CSAs). Based on feedback we're getting, there seems to be a movement towards job titles more reflective of the responsibility and critical role that 'CSRs' make.
How do managers know how customers are being treated? When you aren't around or within earshot, how do your really know how your people are responding to your customers? You don't. You can only rely on your example of customer service to live on through your staff's communication with customers. It is critical that you instill customer service concepts in your staff.
What makes a company successful over the long, long term? What characterizes the service relationship between companies and customers who do business together for decades, even centuries? How can your company stay close to your customers even as times change, technologies change and expectations keep steadily rising? What can you do to ensure that your company's future offers are relevant and valuable in the market?
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is a San Francisco-based professional speaker on the subjects of Change, Teamwork, Customer Service, Promoting Business, and Speaking Skills. She is the author of Get What You Want and Past President of the National Speakers Association. She can be contacted via email at PFripp@aol.com or by phone at 800/634-3035...visit her web site at www.fripp.com.
Almost every company I deal with claims to give better service than their competition. Interestingly, if you talk to the competition, they also claim to give better service! So who is right? From my experience - generally neither one. Here's the problem. Nobody seems to be able to clearly define what 'better service' really means. And since the definition is so fuzzy, it's easy to claim to do it better. The starting point then, is to define what 'better service' really means. And the best way to do that is to ask the customer.
Hallmark (the folks you trust “When you care enough to send the very best”) initiated a follow-up to a national study to examine how four variables – caring, trust, length of patronage, and overall satisfaction – help predict customer loyalty. Caring was found to be twice as important as any of the other three variables. So, how do you get from short-term satisfaction to long-term loyalty? Caring is the bridge. And, as Hallmark discovered, Emotion Marketing is the means of delivery....
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is a San Francisco-based professional speaker on the subjects of Change, Teamwork, Customer Service, Promoting Business, and Speaking Skills. She is the author of Get What You Want and Past President of the National Speakers Association. She can be contacted via email at PFripp@aol.com or by phone at 800/634-3035...visit her web site at www.fripp.com.
Mary Sandro helps companies and professionals achieve results through effective presentations, exceptional customer service, and innovative hiring techniques. She is available to speak on these topics. For more information visit her web site at:http://www.ProEdgeSkills.com or call 800-731-0601.
One of the nice things about being a business owner is that, if a client is abusive and undesirable, you can usually send them packing. There is no legal mandate in most (but not all) states for renewing accounts; however, be sure to check any statutory or legal requirements that might govern in your state. Now, as to HOW you get rid of them....
Often customers come to you with an annoyance or irritation. Depending upon how you and your staff interact with them, you can either de-escalate their ire, or you can send it sky high. In this article, I'll identify some areas for you to watch to make sure you're doing everything you can to keep upset customers from going through the roof.
Everyone wants to improve customer service. But exactly what is 'customer service' and how do you go about improving it? In this article, guest columnist and customer service expert Doug Howardell provides a useable definition of customer service. He then identifies the focus areas that lead to improved customers service and shows you how to assess your performance and develop an improvement plan.
How do you get customers to think of you in a new way? How do you breathe some personality into the office? How can you go beyond the verbal “thank you”—as important as that is—to something more meaningful? This is not that complicated. A few days ago I went to the dentist where I learned a lesson in customer service you can probably use in your agency.
When I consult with agencies, I spend a lot of time with CSRs, claims personnel, marketing personnel, and the accounting and/or bookkeeping staff. I always ask one question: 'Who do you spend more time with, the good customer or the bad/problem customer?' The answer is always, 'The bad/problem customer.' Why is that? There are several reasons....
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is a San Francisco-based professional speaker on the subjects of Change, Teamwork, Customer Service, Promoting Business, and Speaking Skills. She is the author of Get What You Want and Past President of the National Speakers Association. She can be contacted via email at PFripp@aol.com or by phone at 800/634-3035...visit her web site at www.fripp.com.
The responsiveness and ease of communication made possible with e-mail is changing and continues to change how and when we communicate with clients. There are times to use letters, times to use e-mail, and times to speak in person. But e-mail is tremendous and it is becoming appropriate in more and more situations.
In this excerpt from his book 'Creating Customer Connections: How To Make Customer Service A Profit Center For Your Company,' Jack Burke points out that, while many agents pride themselves on great service, they don't 'market' that fact. That leaves customers, and especially prospects, only with price to make purchasing decisions.
No, CARRE is not a typo...it is an acronym for five attributes that any business must foster to retain customers. Several years ago I read a book entitled, 'How To Win Customers and Keep Them For Life,' by Michael LeBoeuf. He stated that, by providing these five attributes, you could keep customers coming back for life. If your agency will adopt this program of Customer CARRE, I know that you will find that you will Win Customers, and Keep Them For Life.
Our articles are usually focused on sales and practical techniques for producing new business. However, a critical component of the process is actually keeping what has been produced. In a changing market, existing accounts are vulnerable. Although our job is to relieve the competition from the burden of their accounts, it is also our job to keep clients from “dating” competitors.
Relationship marketing includes caring that your client's claim is handled properly -- and that the 'other party' is properly taken care of as well. You aren't the insurance company, you are the expert risk manager who accesses company coverages to protect your clients. Are you treating claims as problems to be processed, or opportunities to be explored? Are you defaulting your role to the company, or becoming an active participant in the delivery of your product?
The problem with many businesses today is that they strive to satisfy customers. What’s wrong with that? Well, customers expect satisfaction, so satisfaction is now a basic requirement for doing business and keeping customers. Companies ready to advance beyond the basics look for ways to really WOW customers and to be different. But not “wow” or “different” in the sense of a one-time magic trick or gimmick....
No matter what your company does, you are in the business of providing customer service. If you take a look at companies that are not doing well or have gone under, one of their common threads is the failure to deliver superior customer service. Look at today's successful companies and you will find that they all understand and deliver what their customers want and are believers in the value of customer service training for management and front-line employees. When it comes to customer service, companies fall into one of the following five categories....
We tend to rate ourselves by Sales, Service, and Satisfaction (the three 'S’s'). However, today the “S’s” need to make room for the big “E”: Expectations. To be successful over the long haul, you must meet or exceed your clients' expectations. Initial reaction tends to lay the blame of unmet expectations at the feet of sales. After all, doesn’t the sales department set the cornerstone of client expectations at the time of sale? Maybe not. Let's take a look at the competitive aspect of customer service....
CSR’s primarily deal with claims, policy updates, additions/deletions, and etc. Truth be told, they’re more administrative functionaries than “service providers.” Clients are often intrusions on the flow of their clerical duties. Here are seven steps you can take to solve this conundrum....
Every so often, there is a breath of fresh air in a marketing or customer service technique. Every so often, someone somewhere does something unique that provides them with a marketing edge in their community. Every so often, we see a unique and memorable piece of marketing. “Every so often” became a reality in Clarksville, Tennessee during the winter of ‘93....
In my 20 years of conducting customer service training, I've observed many 'sins' of customer contact personnel. Most of the time the problems I've seen are easily corrected once the staff is aware they're doing something wrong. However, managers or owners may not even be aware of what is being said to the customers, so don't know what needs to be corrected...
In this excerpt from his book 'Creating Customer Connections: How To Make Customer Service A Profit Center For Your Company,' Jack Burke identifies the critical aspects of establishing a corporate culture and how any 'branding' initiative starts at this level.
Have you ever considered what just one customer is worth to your business over a five- to ten-year period or longer? Carl Sewell is one of the nation's leading Cadillac dealers. In his book, Customers for Life, Sewell calculates the amount of revenue an auto dealer could realize from an average buyer if the the dealership could keep the customer for life. Would you believe $332,000? And that's just one customer! In this article, you'll learn the top 10 reasons for creating customer loyalty.
Part 1 of 5:  Why Telephone Manners are ImportantThere's no doubt that more business has been lost because of poor service and poor treatment than because of poor product. Yet, it doesn't take any extra time or money to treat people with grace and courtesy, and in many industries, especially insurance, quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition. This first of five articles explains why good manners make good business.
Part 2 of 5:  Don't Undervalue Your ReceptionistThere's no doubt that more business has been lost because of poor service and poor treatment than because of poor product. Yet, it doesn't take any extra time or money to treat people with grace and courtesy, and in many industries, especially insurance, quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition. Part 2 of 5 explains why your receptionist is the most important PR person in the agency.
Part 3 of 5:  13 Telephone Rules for EveryoneThere's no doubt that more business has been lost because of poor service and poor treatment than because of poor product. Yet, it doesn't take any extra time or money to treat people with grace and courtesy, and in many industries, especially insurance, quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition. This article provides important telephone rules for everyone in the agency.
Part 4 of 5:  The Right Way and The Wrong WayThere's no doubt that more business has been lost because of poor service and poor treatment than because of poor product. Yet, it doesn't take any extra time or money to treat people with grace and courtesy, and in many industries, especially insurance, quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition. Part 4 of 5 in this series provides a real life example of right/wrong manners.
Part 5 of 5:  Voice Mail EtiquetteThere's no doubt that more business has been lost because of poor service and poor treatment than because of poor product. Yet, it doesn't take any extra time or money to treat people with grace and courtesy, and in many industries, especially insurance, quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition. Part 5 of 5 focuses on useful tips to make voice mail more effective.
Every agency loses customers from time to time, for many reasons. Sometimes they're gone forever, for many reasons. However, in most cases, you can get them back IF you know for sure why they left, if you know for sure that you want them back, and if you have a standardized process for recapturing defecting customers.
A prospect becomes a customer. They moved their account to you with high expectations – created during the sales process – and they anticipate great things from the new relationship. Time goes by and nothing happens; no contact, no policy, nothing. This can and will affect your bottom line. Here's how to avoid this....
Ask anyone to relate an excellent experience he or she has had recently as a customer. Only a handful will be able to offer an example. In his book 'The Loyalty Effect', Frederick Reichert contends this is the main reason businesses still lose half of their customers within five years; half their employees within four years; and half their investors within a year. Like most other problems that at first appear complex, there are only a few fundamental reasons for the service crisis. Our focus here is on lack of training, and one aspect of that problem in particular: handling customer complaints.