Being an independent agent is a tough task.
First, you have to sell yourself directly to the customer and show them that you’re the trusted advisor that’s best for them.
Once you’ve done that, the sale isn’t over, now you have to sell the carrier.
The bigger question is, what are you selling?
If you’re one of the amazing folks that I’ve met since hooking up with the Agency Nation family, you’re selling on value and definitely not price.
One of the pieces to that value puzzle is the service your customer will receive from the claims team if something bad were to happen.
I’d say it’s the most important thing you’re selling, but that’s probably what you would expect to hear from a “claims guy.”
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
Why is it that the interactions between agents and claims folks are so limited?
If we’re being honest, there’s only a couple of scenarios that really prompt a call into the claims department.
“The adjuster hasn’t been out to my house yet and I can’t reach them”
“My second cousin’s wife’s daughter was visiting and her pet goat twisted her ankle, should I file a claim?”
The complaint call and the super-hypothetical scenario. Does that sound about right?
Hey, no stones thrown from this end, we do the same thing.
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The First Problem
When do we reach out?
When a denial is about to show up in the customer’s mailbox because we “just want to give you the heads up.”
Or when the customer isn’t returning our calls and we need to lean on your relationship to get them to call us back.
If we’re going to say claims service is the most important thing you’re selling (yes, we’re sticking with that) then why don’t we act like it?
Why can’t we further develop the relationship between your agency and our claims team?
Alright, we’ve admitted we have a problem, some say that’s the first step to recovery, right?
What can we do to bridge that gap and provide more value to the customer? Because, if anything else, that’s what should bring us together.
Here are a few things that I’m personally going to do:
Make Time Not Excuses
I’ve referred to this poster at a gym I used to go to when speaking about my own personal health and wellness.
No doubt we’re all busy, but we have to make the time in order to get healthier, the same goes for these relationships.
I need to schedule the time and hold myself accountable. That will ensure I’m checking in with an agent friend with a quick call or dropping by their agency to sneak in some quality time face-to-face.
It’s those habits and improved communication that will foster these relationships to a different level.
One thing I won’t do is use that time to talk about denials or the customers I can’t reach.
Instead, it’s time to discuss what’s been going on at your agency and gather feedback from your customers.
What challenges have they been facing, what can we do to help provide you and your customer a better claims experience.
With us talking about how important the claims relationship is (yep, I went there again) shouldn’t we devote more time to its improvement?
We’re All Insurance Friends Here
For several months the #5amclubins has welcomed me into the tribe with open arms.
This made me think differently about how I saw my role in the industry.
Which basically was only from the claims interaction part of the customer journey.
Now, I’ve been able to see areas where these amazing folks are looking to improve their businesses and the advice that’s being provided to ensure success.
This also led me to Elevate ’18.
You’ll have to check in with the Agency Nation team, but I think I may have been the only claims attendee over the two years.
If that is a fact and not just something I’m making up, it’s a huge honor!
I was able to further expand upon relationships already established, create new ones, and continue to expand upon the view of the full customer journey.
Alex Dopazo referred to it as “diversity of thought.”
If we stay within the safety of our nest, how can we ever truly soar?
We have to challenge ourselves to see how others think and view our world so we can further improve upon what we can provide.
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Stop Being a Claims Guy
No, I’m not looking for a new job.
I personally get into a mindset that I have to “stay in my lane” and that I should only focus on narrow topics.
Even referring to myself as a “claims guy” subconsciously makes me narrow-minded and keeps me from looking at the big picture.
I equate this to what we’ve all heard to as “working on the business instead of in the business.”
I’m going to work on breaking down that inner “claims only” mindset and broadening out to thinking as somebody just trying to help customers in their time of need.
This is probably going to be the biggest struggle for me, as even when I was discussing getting outside of my lane with my vice president the other day, he had to stop me a few times, “See, you’re still doing it!”
So that’s my plan going forward, and I want you to hold me accountable.
I’d love to hear from you about what else Claims Folks can do to help improve upon this relationship or has anything triggered in your mind about things that you think you’d like to do?