I only read two daily blogs, one insurance industry related and the other not directly insurance industry related but often insurance industry applicable. That latter blog is from Seth Godin. Seth’s daily blog is usually very short, often an epiphany, and always interesting. He has been kind enough to allow me to reprint a few of his blog posts, such as this recent one:

The other kind of customer service

Reactive customer service waits until something is broken. We leave it up to the annoyed customer to go to the trouble of finding us, contacting us, and then, in real time, advocating for themselves until we finally manage to make things good enough (we rarely make them better than the customer hoped).

Perhaps we ought to spend more time being proactive.

How many people on your team are actively advocating for the customer in advance? Guiding the process so that most disappointments won’t even happen, which means we won’t have to fix them…

Is there any more effective way to engage with customers than to create products that don’t break their hearts?

For years, I’ve touted the value of the insurance agent as an advocate at claim time for the insured. This is particularly true (at least in theory) of the independent insurance agent since the agency, not the insurer, “owns” the customer. I don’t know a single good agent that doesn’t advocate for their customer at claim time if they feel a claim is not handled or resolved appropriately.

This advocacy is impossible when consumers buy insurance direct without someone acting on their behalf as a broker or agent. In the book I’m currently writing, I reference the old adage that a lawyer that represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Similarly, an individual or business owner that buys his own P&C insurance directly has a fool for an agent. But, in the book, I go on to explain that advocacy shouldn’t just take place at times when there are no other options.

My book’s working title is “When Words Collide: Resolving Insurance Coverage and Claims Disputes.” The best way to resolve a claim dispute, as Seth’s blog post suggests, is to PREVENT the dispute from ever occurring. You do that, as an insurance agent, by not being a policy peddler. You do that as an insurer underwriter or marketing rep, sometimes with claims department input, by assisting the insured and agent.

All parties assist the insured in the exposure analysis process and by recommending the appropriate insurance coverage (or sometimes alternative risk management techniques) that will minimize the likelihood of an uninsured loss. From my book:

Assisting customers in identifying and treating their loss exposures requires hiring and training the right people and providing them with the tools and incentives to do their jobs. That begins with leadership that understands that education is an investment, not an expense, and management that understands the importance of having invariable, but flexible, systems in place that encourage and enable effective communications, documentation, and consistent practices.

So, what kind of customer service does your shop provide and, if it’s only reactive, is that because your staff lacks the education, tools and resources to do their job?


P.S.  I highly recommend subscribing to Seth Godin’s daily blog. It’s free and you can sign up with just an email address at www.sethgodin.com.

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Bill Wilson

Founder at InsuranceCommentary.com
One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information