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Be Ready for Unplanned Communication

Is your agency prepared to deal with a call from an upset client, with a major fire at an insured business, or simply an online negative review about your sales or service?  While all different, all are likely unexpected and requires internal planning and discussion to ensure that your response is timely and effective.

Complaining Customers

There will always come a time in every agency when a client is upset. Your challenge is to handle the situation in a way that leaves the customer satisfied and if you’re lucky, you can even encourage him or her to serve as a passionate advocate your agency going forward.

You and your customer service staffs’ ability to effectively deal with customer complaints provides a great opportunity to turn dissatisfied customers into lifelong customers.

Here are some tips to help ensure that you are ready to help when a complaint is made:

  • LISTEN…hear what they have to say and don’t interrupt until they are finished. Don't get defensive nor take the complaint personally and don’t jump to conclusions.

  • Once they have finished, repeat back what you heard and ask questions to better understand their perspective. You want to solve their problem, not argue with them, so empathize and look for ways to solve the issue.

  • Remember that an apology will often diffuse the situation. Don’t place the blame on another person or department. Simply let them know that you are sincerely sorry for the issue that is causing them concern. 

  • Work with the customer to find an acceptable solution and you can start by asking them "What would be an acceptable solution to you?" They may not know, but making them a partner to solve the issue will assure them that you care about them and the outcome. Be prepared with a few solutions of your own to offer the client to consider.

  • If you need to work with someone else internally to solve it, do so quickly! Remember that customers prefer the person they are speaking with to be able to solve their issue. When complaints are sent upstream to be handled by others, only add to the customer's frustration.

There is no getting around customer complaints. But, if you and your service teams use these tips to navigate through the client’s issues you can turn challenges into growth opportunities.

Social Media Scares

Negative news

Even if your agency isn’t using social media, someone is online talking about you. Wouldn’t you like to be part of that dialogue? Wait and it could be too late.

  • If you aren’t already engaged online and talking about your brand, just one negative news story can be rocket to the top of the search engine results.

  • Every mention and every connection you create in cyberspace creates a rich network of brand content.  

  • If you haven’t established your own content and claimed an online foothold for your brand on your own terms, it can become extremely difficult to make up lost ground later.  

Professional Response to a Negative Review

So, someone posted a review on a social media site pointing out some a bad experience they had with your agency….what do you do?

  • Keep your composure and never engage in a virtual shouting match with someone online, even if the post was off base or even false. If the post is threatening or in some way may violate the Terms of Service for the site, flag it for the site’s support team to review and possibly have it deleted.

  • Be civil and professional in your response to any online review. Give your professional perspective of the situation and offer a solution.  It is important to show others that you have taken the time to address the poster’s concern and have taken steps to solve the problem.  If the poster is someone that you know professionally or personally, consider a private message or outreach through another method to discuss.

  • Don’t respond to one compliment or compliant, but not others. Consistency is critical to establishing your online reputation! Consider having the marketing department be in charge of monitoring and responding to online posts about your agency.

Disaster Communication

Social media can also prove an important tool for reaching customers during disasters.

  • Even when phone lines or power are interrupted, smart phones often still work.

  • If you have generated a strong following online or have a contact list of customer cellphone numbers, you can maintain important communication during particularly difficult times. This is when your value as an agency can be solidified for life.

Important Tip!

Many agencies already actively use social media, while others are still exploring it. For some, there are questions of whether social media sites will supplant the need for traditional websites. While social media is an excellent way to connect
with customers, increase visibility of the agency, and build relationships with prospects, its usage does have some E&O exposure. Check out the E&O Happens site for information about social media use and your exposure.


Do you text with your agency clients? If so, it’s important to establish firm guidelines for texts and to understand the possible business implications as well as E/O issues that can come from accepting texts:

Consider these issues:

  • Critical Information Could Be Lost. When you get a text, there is no easy way to file it with the rest of the insured’s info. The information lives on your phone, and at the end of a long day, you may forget about it. There are some applications that allow you to send the text to email so that it could be filed, however, that’s another touchpoint that will mean loss of your time and another place where the information could be lost.

  • Texting is Distracting. If all your customers are continually texting you and/ or your service staff throughout the day, productively will fall off. Every buzz or ding will necessitate a glance and create disruptions.  And, will the text stop the minute your office closes for the day? Highly unlikely. An autoresponder may be necessary after hours informing texters that they will not hear back from you until the next business day and provide an emergency number they can call if necessary. Otherwise, family meals, date night and your sleep may suffer.

  • Unrealistic Expectations. Text massagers expect an immediate response! It could make a client upset or even angry if you don’t answer them within seconds. Your clients will need to understand that you can always respond to non-emergency texts immediately, as you might be with another client or driving to another appointment.

Consider adding verbiage to client communications outlining your text messaging policies. Be clear about how you want to communicate with them, set boundaries and stay consistent in how you respond or don’t respond to text messages from clients.




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- Visit the Risk Management page for tools, sample letters, information, checklists, podcasts to avoid avoid E&O claims and improve business practices. 



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Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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