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Be Professional and Trustworthy

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How do you measure your reputation with your clients?  

Have you ever asked a client if they would continue to do business with you and your agency without qualms?  Or, if they would refer their friends and family to you without any hesitation?  

If you have and they answered “yes”, then you have already established an agency culture that creates trusts and shows that you care about how they view your agency.

Maybe you haven’t asked, or maybe you have and have gotten some not-so-positive responses.  What can you do to become a trusted agency in your community with a stellar reputation?

Below are some tips to help build the trust you want to have with your policyholders:

  1. Always have your clients’ best interest in mind. Be willing to forego personal gain to give your policyholders the best coverage at the best price. If you can’t help with them a particular need, don’t be afraid to refer them to someone who can.
  2. Keep your promises. If you tell a client you can meet their coverage expectations or budget, back those promises up. They won’t forget if the price is higher or if you assured them a claim was covered, when in reality it isn’t.
  3. Be consistent.An insured’s ability to trust you depends on consistent and persistent behavior. When a customer knows how you will behave, they are more likely to trust you.
  4. Keep the conversations real. Every meeting should be a conversation, not a sales pitch. You should spend half your time with each customer listening, and be sure that the conversation is relevant and has substance.
  5. Be transparent. Understand what it means to be transparent. Your clients are smart—they know when you are being truthful and upfront and when you’re lying. Don’t hide your mistakes and always address any issues or misunderstanding directly. Never avoid the topic and let them know what steps you’re taking to handle the issue and prevent it from happening in the future.


“Professionals never guess—
they make it their business to know their business.”
Michelle Moore, Selling Simplified

Priorities and Tactics

Professional Agency Priorities:

  • Be knowledgeable about your company’s products and be able to explain coverage.
  • Understand client needs and expectations.
  • Present the unique benefits (i.e., differentiators) that your agency offers .
  • Display certifications for training and memberships.
  • Create and maintain a professional appearance.
  • ​Take time to talk to clients personally.
  • Know client accounts and needs.
  • Advise on tailored coverage options.

​Professional Advice and Attention Builds Trust​

“People don’t care how much you know
until they know how much you care.”
David Maister, True Professionalism


Tactics To Build Trust With Your Clients

For many consumers, the most important element in a transaction is customer satisfaction. An important aspect of this is simply making the customer feel heard.


Ten ways to do this:

  1. Know who is boss. Henry Ford put it well: “Employers only handle the mone—it is the customer who pays the wages.” You are in business to serve customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what your customers want. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. This is what pays your salary.

  2. Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions; i.e., thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants.

  3. Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

  4. Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance. Convey sincerity. Your words and actions should be congruent.

  5. Help customers understand your systems. Your organization may have the world's best systems for getting things done, but if customers don't understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions.

  6. Appreciate the power of "Yes". Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable), tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.

  7. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.

  8. Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition.

  9. Get regular feedback. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services
    a.  Listen carefully to what they say
    b.  Check back regularly to see how things are going.
    c.  Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.​

  10. Treat employees well. They are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation starts from the top. Treating both customers and employees well are equally important. 


Other TacticsCSE-Quote.jpg

  • Employ an upbeat tone—essential in phone communication. If you write or email with customers, be sure to use proper grammar and spelling, and choose words and phrases that convey 
    a similarly upbeat attitude.

  • A sense of humor can make a potentially stressful interaction more enjoyable. If a customer cracks
    a silly joke, she will appreciate it if you chuckle along with her. Make sure you never laugh
    at a customer (if they make a mistake or have trouble with something), but instead laugh with a customer.

  • Producers and CSRs should be familiar with client accounts and conversant on specific needs.

  • Agency-initiated communication with clients is a must.

  • Notify clients well before deadlines about options and changes in coverage. Verify or coordinate changes in coverage both by phone and in writing.

  • Respond to changes in customers’ life cycles. Examples:

    • ​Contact the insured before a child reaches driving age. Offer to explain to the child how he/she can help keep the family’s rates to a minimum
    •  Contact a policyholder nearing retirement age regarding an annuity.
    • Recommend increasing policy limits/add a personal umbrella policy as clients gain assets.
    • Conversely, set up reminders to yourself to recommend that clients decrease coverage of their automobiles as they lose value. You will gain great loyalty from doing this.

  • Encourage proper protection. Provide advance advice to policyholders in disaster-prone areas and to special-issue clients; e.g., pools, dogs, etc. Consumer advice is available at www.independentagent.com and www.trustedchoice.com​.

  • Have a customer satisfaction coordinator—a “concierge” of sorts—to oversee special activities over and above insurance services; e.g., birthday cards, holiday greetings, get-well notes. Correspondence should carry the agent’s actual signature.

  • Conduct a full account review of each personal lines account at least every two years using a written exposure checklist. Include alternative deductibles, new products, policy limits and coverages.

 

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RELATED RESOURCES

Checklist
Professional Agency Tactics​ 
PDF Fillable

Big "I" VU

- Insurance articles written from a consumer perspective​



  
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​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556
email: info@iiaba.net

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