We all know the importance of “customer service.” We hear it so much it can become tiresome. Understand, however, that you are helping someone with a need or requirement that you (and possibly only you) have the power to fulfill. That’s important. And in a way, every person you aid is on a quest for their “Holy Grail.”
As key members in the insurance world, you are a bit like a sage guide—Merlin, perhaps—directing agents or advisors to the best options available from the company’s carrier partners. At the same time, you are also pathfinders for those who depend on you, ready to slay mundanely disguised dragons and giants on their behalf.
In quest stories, there must be challenges along the way, each of which has to be overcome before the heroes can continue. In this analogy, there are five: Relationship, Understanding, Efficiency, Responsibility, and Follow-Up. Unfortunately, quests also require a lot of trudging. Here then are your challenges as well as the (trudging) steps as you go boldly forth with serving your agents and advisors.
(Building a) Relationship – Personal connections, based on trust, create loyalty. 🏗️
- Strive to make a good first impression on behalf of yourself and the company you represent.
- Exude confidence and use positive language in your communications.
- Be patient in explaining the particulars of the options and products you present; you’re the expert, not the person you’re helping.
- Personalize your communications. Use your name and theirs in friendly-yet-professional notes, emails, texts, and conversations.
- Provide reassurance that you will always give your best effort on their behalf.
Understanding – You can’t be a guide if you don’t know where the agent or advisor wants to go. 🔍
- Gain a clearer understanding of objectives by asking all the relevant “who, what, where, and when” questions.
- Ensure you’re paying attention by repeating back what you heard.
- On the phone or in person, taking notes is better than relying on memory.
- Hear with fresh ears and make no assumptions.
Efficiency – Their time (and yours) is valuable! 🎚️
- Acquire as much knowledge about your products and services as possible. Talk to people who have first-hand experience.
- Be organized. Know your resources and contacts, and how to quickly access them.
- Become proficient with technical tools of your trade, whether it’s phone apps, database dashboards – simply navigating the company voicemail system.
- Provide service proactively. Nothing says efficiency like solving a problem before it becomes apparent.
Responsibility – Who do agents and advisors rely on? That’s you! ⌚
- A speedy response makes people happy, but accuracy is just as important. If you’re not sure about something, ask someone who knows.
- Be open about processes, share the plan of action, and make sure everyone’s expectations are understood.
- Get their feedback as you move along the process. It will improve their experience, and keep you from being blindsided by a problem later.
- If you must “hand-off” an advisor or agent to someone else, touch base with both later to see how things are going.
Follow-Up – Because you want your “questing” to continue. 📨
- No one is ever truly “closed.” Stay in touch between sales.
- Make gestures that show appreciation for their business: gift cards, greeting cards – or an occasional friendly phone call.
- Seek feedback after every transaction.
- Use their feedback to improve processes. If they experienced a problem, make sure they know the same issue will not arise again, thanks to their input.
Remember, too, that along the way, you and your agents or advisors are also partners. Together, you are all in a fellowship to an even greater undertaking—fulfilling the financial and insurance needs of Americans as they face their retirement years.