Posted by: Billy R. Williams Ph.D. | July 14, 2009

Increase Your ALI/Customer Satisfaction Score – A Step By Step Plan

Increase Your ALI/Customer Satisfaction Score – A Step By Step Plan

Inspire a Nation receives more questions about increasing the “ALI,” Customer Satisfaction, and Customer Loyalty scores than any other topic. In response to this level of interest and concern, I am writing this step by step plan that an agent and agency can put in place immediately to increase their scores.

There is a huge push in the insurance industry to make sure that an insurance company is not at the bottom of the list when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty.  Every major insurance company has put in place a survey that will help them show the current and potential investors that they are a safe bet.  Would you invest your hard earned money into a company that is near the bottom of this list during difficult economic times?

This new push also forces insurance agents to take a long hard look at the processes within their agencies. Your score (I will refer to it as this, since I am working across the terminology of a variety of insurance companies) is supposedly an indication of how well you are servicing the customer, and how much they value you and the agency.  Our research from around the industry shows that 8 out of 10 respondents that complain on the survey complain about one of the following three areas:

  1. Rate Increases,
  2. Claims, and
  3. Endorsements.

Our research also shows that the majority of the folks that respond to the survey have had one of the three events that are mentioned above within the last 180 days.

Most captive agents have very little influence on rates and the majority of independent agents can only influence policy charges and other minor charges.  The carriers have the final word on rates.

Most carriers try to limit the agent’s involvement in the claims process.  Many agents are taking this to mean they should be completely hands off when a claim occurs, and this is a terrible mistake.

Endorsements are really the one area that an agent has almost 100 % control.

Since these areas make up 80% of the potential score, these are the areas in which we will focus our suggestions during this article.

Let’s start with the easy area first and then we will work up to the most difficult area. For those of you who are utilizing our training and mentoring materials I will list which resource to refer to if you have questions about a particular process, tool or suggestion.

 ENDORSEMENTS

 Starting today, send a confirmation email or mailing with every endorsement you complete.

There are three elements that must be contained in the email or mailing:

    1. What a customer should expect to happen next from the agency and from corporate,
    2. How this endorsement changes their premium, and
    3. A short 3-question survey that asks:

                                             i.             if the customer is completely satisfied with the service they are being provided,

                                           ii.             whether there is anything your agency can do to service them better, and

                                          iii.             If they will send you a referral?

(The Insurance Agency Success Mentoring Manual and CDs shows you how and when to use this process.)

There are some really cool new toys that are on the market that can make the confirmation email even more effective, such as adding a video of you explaining the endorsement on the email they receive. Currently we are recommending a free tool called that allows you to create and send video as part of an email called “eyejot”. Click here for more details.

  1. Send an automated dialer call that asks the same 3 questions as on the confirmation email or mailing to any customer that has completed an endorsement within the last 180 days. (If you are really worried about your score, send a postcard or letter as well.) Make sure you give them the option of transferring to your agency immediately if they have questions. (The Insurance Agency Success Mentoring Manual and CDs and the Success Team Recorded Webinar Series on “Using Auto-Dialers” show you how and when to use this process.) I know there are suggestions floating around that you should let the customer know a survey is coming from corporate and that you should ask the same questions that are on the corporate survey but we believe this could actually backfire on the agent.  A customer needs to feel that you are doing something for them and not just trying to cover your butt. We actually see an increase in negative responses and a lower response rate when a customer receives two or more of the same corporate survey.

 Have an agency video posted to YouTube and on your agency website (if you have one) that gives the customer an opportunity to get to know you, your staff, and what your agency goals are when it comes to servicing your customers and clients. Your introduction video should not be a glorified product pitch, but a heartfelt introduction to you and your agency.  Add the link to your video on all self-branded correspondence that you are sending. (Get permission from corporate to add this link if you are using corporate-branded materials.)   (The Insurance Agency Success Mentoring Manual and CDs and the Success Team Recorded Webinar Series “Quick Start – 50 policies in 30 days.”)

 CLAIMS – The real moment of truth

Someone from the agency should contact the customer within hours of the claim to:

  1. Make sure everyone is ok,
  2. Make sure the customer has taken pictures or a video of the claim,
  3. Review the coverage that the customer has on the policy and identify any policy weaknesses that could impact the claim such as lack of rental car or no increased jewelry coverage on the home. Customers and clients are much more satisfied with an agent when the agent takes the time to explain what the customer has been paying for at the time a claim occurs. If you can take the time to explain coverage when you sell them the policy, why can’t you take a moment and review coverage when they get ready to use it? I am not asking you to process the claim, just review what you sold them. This process will also reinforce in their mind why you contact them every year to do a full policy review. It is hard to blame someone when they tried to do their job and review your coverage before you had a claim, but you didn’t cooperate! (The Insurance Agency Success Mentoring Manual and CDs and the Success Team Recorded Webinar Series on “Agency Management.”)
  4. The jury is still out on auto-dialing or mailing to all claims customers. Right now we are suggesting that you start the processes we mentioned above, but only contact claims customers that you know have had a positive experience with claims.

 RATE INCREASE – The most difficult but necessary conversation

 We all hate the “why did my rate go up and I have not had a claim?” conversation. It is the one time as an agent that we feel helpless and believe that the same old tired excuse about the price of labor, materials, and lumber increasing is just that—a tired old excuse! Regardless of how you feel about it, if you want to influence “the score” you must talk to your customers when their rates go up.  People are going to complain to somebody; is it going to be:

  1. You?
  2. The corporate survey? or
  3. Their new agent at their new insurance company?

 Here is what we recommend:

  1. Contact them about their rate increase before they contact you,
  2. Perform a full policy review to insure that all current information is correct and accurate,
  3. Explain that insurance companies have requirements to maintain a specific level of money in their reserves in order to guarantee they can pay claims and that because of the poor economy and investment returns they have had to take some rate increases to maintain this level,
  4. Explain the”real cost of the coverage” by using the customer’s unique policy situation. For example: if a $100K home goes up $100 per year in premium, the real cost of the insurance is an additional $8.33 per month.
  5. Don’t forget to include increased coverage limits into the equation as this can make the real cost of coverage even lower. For example: last year the home had $96k in coverage for $400. Real cost = $4.17 per thousand. This year the coverage was increased to $100K and premium to $500.00.  Real cost = $5.00 per thousand. The insurance company has to pay an additional $4K if a total loss was to occur, and they are asking you to kick in an additional $0.83 for each $1,000.00 they have to pay out. This conversation works well with your very analytical customers, but not with everyone. (Please make sure you have done the math before you try this conversation!),
  6. Explain the value and benefit of each coverage by using real world “if this were to occur here is how this coverage would kick in” conversations,
  7. Allow the customer to vent and/or complain without taking it personally. If you have done the best job you can as an agent to verify that all of the policy information that is used to set the rate is accurate, discussed the current coverage the customer has on the policy, discussed how the coverage would be used if a claim were to occur, explained any policy weakness that exist, and adjusted coverage as requested by the customer after your explanation, you have to realize that at the end of the day if a customer cannot or will not pay the additional premium it is not because you did not do your job. By doing a great job now you are establishing your ability to try and bring them back to your agency in the future (should they decide to leave). More than likely the customer will not have negative comments on the survey, and this is the type of customer that is more likely to respond to the survey.  (The Insurance Agency Success Mentoring Manual and CDs and the Success Team Recorded Webinar Series on “Agency Management” are the best resources for this process.)

 Is this all you have to do to have a good score? Of course not! You need processes and tools that are working year-round to provide your customer the most complete customer service experience possible–but the plan I gave you above is a good place to start.  If you are building deeper relationships with your customer by using social media such as LinkedIn and facebook that allow you to post articles and updates that show your expertise and commitments to providing great customer service, this will reinforce your message. It will also provide a sounding board for your clients, so they don’t feel the only way they can get their concerns heard is by making negative comments on a survey. The most important benefit is that it allows you to connect on multiple levels with a customer. You should offer them the opportunity to connect to your business specific Social Media Sites, (NOT PERSONAL!) and you should become connections with them on a professional site such as LinkedIn. (The Insurance Agency Success Mentoring Manual and CDs and the Success Team Recorded Webinar Series on “Using Social Media to Help Grow Your Agency” are the best resources for this process.)

 

Billy R. Williams, Ph.D.

President

Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring Svc.

http://www.inspireanation.net/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: