IIAG had its annual Fall Conference a couple of weeks ago. This year it was held at a conference center in Augusta that was adjacent to Riverwalk Augusta, which is a beautiful park that runs next to, and in some places along the top of, the levee that separates downtown Augusta from the Savannah River. If you have not already done it, I highly recommend a walk through the park and along the river.
While at the conference, I was able to attend three informative presentations on E&O loss control, processes and technologies that can help an agency or agent grow their business, and how to transform an agency into an exceptional customer service provider. The part of the E&O presentation I attended focused on how to properly document interactions with customers. The three C’s of all documentation are that it be clear, concise, and consistent. It is also important that it contain only the facts of what happened and when and who was involved. It should not contain any opinions, especially on the validity of a customer’s claim or whether the proper coverage was in place. If there is a possibility that an E&O claim may be made, set up a separate file for all information related to the defense of such a claim. The speaker favored electronic documentation over paper, but recommended against communicating with the customer using social media or texts due to the difficulty in capturing and storing such communications in the agency’s management system. Such documentation should include reminders upon the first issuance and every renewal that the customer read their policy to make sure it provides the coverage they want and include disclaimers about possible coverage limitations, e.g., policy does not cover flood damage. Should use proposals to highlight all such limitations.
The part of the agency growth presentation I attended focused on how to select a target market and common mistakes in doing so. The first thing an agency or agent should do is review the products available from the companies by which they are appointed. This will give them a good idea of what their target market should be, as it would be a waste of time to go after a particular type of customer if they could not satisfy all the coverage needs of such a customer. Once a target market is chosen, be careful not to waste time on potential customers who do not fit the profile in all important respects or the time to cultivate whom will not be worth the amount of commission that can realistically expect to receive. Be persistent with the target market; one touch with a potential customer is not enough, but need to be creative in how they are touched. Social media can be monitored for life or other important events involving customers or potential customers, which are then followed up with an appropriate card containing a handwritten note. Can also use social media to highlight customers by reporting on any newsworthy events involving them or for commercial customers describe and recommend the services they offer. The mantra for an agency or agent should be “And Then Some.” Always strive to do what’s expected “And Then Some.”
The most interesting piece of information I learned at the exceptional customer service presentation was that underwriters grade the agencies and agents with whom they work. This is usually done on a quarterly basis and will govern the level of service and cooperation with handling unusual risks provided to an agency or agent in the future. The speaker recommended asking the underwriters about the grade given and how it can be improved. One sure way to do so is to treat underwriters and other company representatives as if they were customers.