If communication and knowledge are the keys to a good servicing agent, structure of the organization needs to come in there as well. How is your agency set up? Is it a “one man show” or is it a billion dollar operation with different divisions handling your account? My father used to say, “if your agent is too big to know you as a client, he’s too big for you”. Then, when we got bigger he said, “if your agent knows each of his clients, he’s not big enough to properly handle your insurance…”.
I think better organizational structure is one of the biggest differences in agency service that is never discussed. Most clients like the idea of the guy who sold them the policy also handling all of the service. Sounds good. It isn’t the best. It breaks down in an agency. He/she cannot be the do it all service person and also the do it all sales person. These jobs are significantly different. Service people need to be there, by the phone, computer ready for your call or email. They handle issues for the client and the company. They deal with the paperwork and the company systems. They transmit documents, answer questions on the phone and in writing, they deal with billing issues and payments and cancelations and reinstatements and everything with the practical side of having and maintaining an insurance policy. Most agencies see the need for service specialists.
Salesmen typically get paid for sales and so that will be their focus. They often do not have regular office hours. Many work from home or just out of their car. An agency will spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars just getting a new customer on the books as a client. It is a great deal of work prospecting, cold calling, sending out mailers, working the call-in inquiry, trying to get referrals, marketing campaigns, lunch and learns, etc… Salesmen are rarely available to do service work, but many agencies expect the sales team to also be the service team and they cannot do a good job with both.
Our agency has 3 layers of professionals. A salesman or Producer, service representative or Customer Service Associate and an Account Executive. The Account Executive is the one that can deal with renewing business, shopping it with other carriers and handling the on-site work and client communication needed for the clients to have confidence in our service team.
The next part of good service deals with the insurance company itself. How important is the role of the insurance company? Is having more companies really an asset to clients? Does having only one company show more specialization and concentration?
Having companies is a bit like a store having inventory. To do the best job, an agent often will need multiple companies. This is especially true if you sell and service commercial lines. Companies typically have a sweet spot. Some have geography they dominate. Others have different agencies that they give special ability to place and underwrite business. The better an agent knows the different companies and their sweet spots, the more helpful the agent can be in selecting the right company for you, the client.
At Greystone Insurance, we know insurance and what our insurers do best. Keeping things up to date is easier with the proper agency organization and great people. Our mission is serving. Let us show you how that can be a great experience for you.