24-7 Service Pays

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A recent survey indicated that the vast majority of agents surveyed believed their customer base did not want 24/7 service, voice mail, e-mail or anything other than personal attention during business hours. Interesting. In fact, customers overwhelmingly wanted these options for basic functions. Don't accept the applause or grumbles of one or two people as being what all customers want. In this document, Pegi Flahault encourages you to find out by asking: Poll your customers.

Providing basic 24/7 service to your clients can increase efficiency. Start with a telephone system that's easy, fast, and provides options to connect to a person. Keep your recorded messages concise and precise. Offer a limited number of options that clearly relate to the needs of your customers. Provide a separate option for the personnel directory and set it up to key in the first name of the employee.

Provide access to agency personnel in case of an emergency — no matter what time of day. An agency that closes for lunch, shuts off its phone system, and won't allow messages, is not providing client service. Employers often discourage handling personal business on company time. In some situations, the need for a private conversation with the agency cannot be accomplished from the workplace. Setting 9 to 5 office hours and closing at lunch gives your clients few options to reach you at their convenience through voice mail and e-mail.

Provide personal response from agency personnel in case of a claim and continuing, consistent contact until the claim is resolved. If the customer had never had a claim before, how will they know if they're having a problem? Don't fall into the trap of thinking you're providing service when you tell them to call you if they have a question; set procedures to call them at specific intervals from the time the claim is reported until it's closed

Use mailings, e-mail, and a voice-mail option to offer clients information on new products, new services, and exposure issues. Keep them aware of new insurance products. Inform them about new claims or underwriting concerns.

Do you know what your clients want? Have you asked them?

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