The 1(800) way agents put client relationships in jeopardy
By Tim Miller
July 04, 2012
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If recent TV and viral advertising for insurance is to be believed, your agent is supposed to practically appear out of thin air for you when you need him.
But what really happens when a policyholder files a claim? Luke, one of our consultants, found out first-hand that perception and reality of what an agent provides can be two very different things.
Luke recently experienced an extra-alarm fire in the apartment complex he lived in. The fire, which began early on a Friday evening, roared through the four eastern units of the eight unit building and communicated over to an adjacent house. Thankfully, despite the intensity of the blaze, no one was injured.
Luke’s unit on the west side of the complex was not directly damaged by fire, but the resulting damage on the east side of the complex was quite severe and definitely affected the entire complex. In his unit, there was a strong lingering smell of smoke, the uncertainty of whether his contents were damaged and the general confusion related to whether or not it was still safe for him and his family to live there.
Despite a good understanding of what would be necessary to restore the structure (thanks to our everyday work with restorers), Luke was still unsure what this meant for him in the big picture. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a loss, even if you luck out and escape with minimal damages.
Because of our involvement in the industry, Luke was able to get the expert opinion of a restorer we work with, but as we all know, coverage is ultimately up to the adjuster/carrier. He decided to call his agent to get their opinion on what to do next, which is likely the first instinct for anyone outside of the industry who has just suffered a loss.
The agent, who has been Luke’s agent for over a decade, was little to no help. He did very little in the way of reassuring Luke that things would be handled properly, expressed no empathy and was unable to provide any actionable advice or steps outside of pushing Luke off to the 800 number. This made Luke genuinely question why he even had an agent at all.
A claim did end up getting filed, but the assigned adjuster did such an above and beyond job of customer service, it salvaged the relationship between Luke and his agent. The agent’s indifference and lack of involvement didn’t end up costing him a policyholder, but Luke was fully prepared to find a new agent before the adjuster saved the day.
Policyholders believe they’ll get top of the line personal service from their agents when they have to file a claim, but in reality, situations like Luke’s happen every day. Whether they realize it or not, agents play a pivotal role in how the claims process will ultimately pan out for their policyholders and their direct involvement can be a major part of this, including their choice of restoration contractor.
As the restorer, who plays a vital role in the claims process, what are you doing to help agents provide the very best service possible and provide an experience that can’t be delivered through an 800 number?
Tim is the president and CEO of Business Development Associates, Inc. Tim is a highly regarded sales and marketing expert in the industry, and brings 30 years of experience and a unique perspective to help businesses solve their problems and grow to the next level. Tim is also a published author in several trade magazines and speaks at multiple industry events and conferences throughout the year, where he leverages his business experience in both the restoration industry and his other entrepreneurial ventures including his own construction company in New Mexico.