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