Many insurance agencies are very focused on managing their insurance leads and increasing sales.
The importance of good customer service is often understated – insurance agencies love to think of themselves as customer-centric, but when those promises are put to the test, that’s when many agencies fail.
However, in the insurance industry, customer service is one of the key factors of an agency’s success, as your policyholders’ experiences will directly depend on how you interact with them.
Combine that with the fact that more than 33% of Americans claim that they would switch companies after only one instance of bad service, and it becomes clear that having quality customer service should be one of your main business goals.
Here are some insurance agency customer service tips to show your policyholders they’ve come to the right place.
Always show empathy
When you receive several claims every day, it’s easy to become desensitized to your clients’ problems and to approach them procedurally. But, to your customers, their problems are unique, and they expect you to show a level of understanding and emotional support.
These aren’t just buzzwords – research shows that more empathic customers are more likely to react with “forgiveness” to a bad experience, meaning that empathy can be used to reduce the negative effects of customer dissatisfaction!
Understandably, you can’t always show the same level of care to every single claim, but try to incorporate some little things into your approach to show emotional support. Even repeating someone’s name in a conversation can make a big difference and show you value them and their troubles.
Follow up and be responsive
Sales calls, especially cold calls, can feel uncomfortable – you feel pushy, you’re not really sure they want to talk to you, and sometimes people can be so unpleasant that you just wait for the call to be over. None of that applies to follow-ups on claims.
Following up until the end of the claim shows that you care about your client’s situation. Unlike some sales calls, your calls here will be welcome. In fact, an insurance claim can become difficult if communication breaks down.
So, create a schedule, set reminders, and contact your clients after the claim has been filed. A good rule of thumb is to call more often at the beginning of the claim and to start easing the calls closer to the end of the process.
Don’t use a machine
“Please hold. Your call is very important to us.”
One of the worst things a distraught person in need of help can hear is a metallic, cold voice of a forwarding machine. Don’t get me wrong, you should always do your best to make the customer service process as efficient as possible, but talking to an actual person is very important in this business.
If you’re looking to give some structure to your customer service, one of the new modern business phone systems could be a good solution. Many of them offer easy call forwarding to agents, teams can collaborate on dashboards, record calls, and even leave comments to each other, making the whole process much more efficient. Check out this comparison of RingCentral vs Grasshopper to learn more about your options.
When your clients come to your office, make sure they don’t feel like they’re in a bank – just waiting in line to speak to someone who’s after their money. Sitting in a waiting room and reading an old magazine doesn’t make people feel valued.
Even if they do have to go through this waiting process, make sure you provide something more personal once you actually start the meeting. Simply offering them a coffee on a cold day or a lemonade on a hot one will establish a much more personal connection and make them feel more relaxed.
It’s much easier to sound polite in phone conversations, where a client can hear your tone and feel your presence. On email, however, you have to do much more to achieve the same effect. Read your emails carefully (or even let others read them) to see if they aren’t too cold. Pro tip: try not to use too many short sentences. A couple of short sentences tied together can make you sound insensitive.
Also, a quick grammar check of your email will save you a lot of embarrassment. And, you SHOULD be embarrassed if you send out a badly written email to anyone, especially a client. For some people, it may not feel like a big deal, but spelling errors or typos in emails are reputation killers.
Explain the next steps
Filing a claim can be a confusing process, especially for someone who hasn’t done it before, so make sure your client always knows what the next step is. Every call and meeting should be ended with a brief explanation of the whole process ahead, with a strong focus on the first step.
You’ll be surprised by the amount of patience and understanding people can have when they have a feeling that things are moving forward. Of course, you need to show confidence throughout the whole process, so your clients feel they are in safe hands.
Ask for feedback
There is always room to improve your service, even if the client is completely satisfied. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback – clients will often point out a small error in your approach that neither you nor your colleagues were able to see. This move also has a great side effect: your client will feel like their experience is important and opinion valued!
But, make sure the process doesn’t stop here. If their feedback was valuable and they made a strong point, make a note and try to initiate change.
Later on, you can even call the client and tell them you’ve changed the thing they’ve complained about – that’s a great way to create a strong connection.
Remember the little things
One of the best insurance agency customer service tips is to add a personal touch to your approach and try to value your clients as people. It may sound corny, but simply remembering your clients’ birthdays can help you create a positive association that will become very important once they start the process of filing a claim.
If you want to go even further, you can remember their children’s names, their profession, or the name of their partner. Make notes of these things and insert them casually in a conversation, you will instantly see your clients’ surprised faces!
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
One of the biggest mistakes agents make is overpromising things to clients. In an effort to alleviate the situation and calm the client down, an agent will sometimes make a promise they aren’t authorized to make. Insurance claims can be tricky, even if everything seems simple.
Try not to make any definitive statements and leave the details to the claim adjusters. You can encourage and reassure the clients, but make sure you leave no room for misinterpretation.
An easy way to do this is to offer your opinion and end the conversation with something like: “Your insurance adjuster will give you the best explanation”.
Blaming others is a sign of weakness and a lack of control. You want your client to know you’re on top of the situation – even if that means admitting a mistake or two. Even if you didn’t make the mistake, try not to assign blame. Don’t throw your colleagues under the bus, take the criticism and move on.
Owning a mistake shows you’re human, and your clients will often take a step back and show understanding, siding with you instead of blaming.
Call even when there are no problems
Did you know that acquiring a new customer can be up to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one? That’s one big reason to make sure your clients are happy and have no reason to change agencies. When we put everything in this perspective, it’s easy to see why treating your clients with respect should be a top priority.
Nurturing a good relationship with your client will pay off once the time comes to file a claim or sign a renewal. You can make a schedule for these check-in calls, or time the calls shortly before it’s time for a policy renewal. Wishing a happy birthday or checking in every couple of months can also go a long way.
And don’t forget to ask your clients to leave an online review for your insurance agency.
Filing a claim can be an incredibly stressful process, so your clients will often be (understandably) difficult to deal with.
However, whether a client will have a bad or a good experience is entirely up to you and your team. It’s your job to take them by the hand and make the process easy to understand, and even easier to go through.
And, if you’ve done your job properly, your clients will already have an established positive connection with your agency even before filing the claim. That way, the whole experience will be made much easier both for you and the client!