On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds interviews Jason Cass of Insurance Agency Intelligence about the customer experience. By listening to this episode, you will learn:
- Why the customer experience is not the same as customer service.
- How an amazing customer experience makes your customers want to refer other people to you, driving more business your way.
- How a focus on process and account manager culture helps ensure the creation and delivery of amazing customer experiences.
Ask an insurance agency to talk about the customer experience and you’re likely to hear a talk about customer service. But customer service is only one part of the overall customer experience. Jason Cass literally wrote a book about this distinction. According to Cass, it is the customer experience, rather than customer service alone, that will help your agency stand out among the competition.
Customer experience is tangible, Cass explains. It is something you can look at, point to, or hold in your hands. Cass runs a three-location agency in Illinois and provides his customers with a mobile app on which they can see their effective dates, policy numbers, etc. “But what it’s used for over 70% of the time is the ID cards. You will not believe how many times we’ve gotten calls from customers who were pulled over and did not have their ID cards with them. So we told them to go to the app store, download our app, and there the ID cards would be.”
When customers have experiences such as this, they are more likely to rave about it to other people they know, driving more business your way. (For more information about how this works and how to measure it, see Net Promoter Score: Why Insurance Agencies Need It.) In a way, amazing experiences make producers out of customers. “Usually, we hire or train producers to go out there and bring in new business. What if we did nothing but take care of our current customers and create amazing customer experiences from start to finish? Here is what would happen: those customers would go tell other people how great we are and bring them into our agency.”
So how do you deliver an amazing customer experience?
First, if you are serious about focusing on your current customers, you must occasionally turn away new ones. This is hard for many agencies to do, but it’s essential—otherwise, you’re always taking something away from the experience of other customers. Ultimately, this hurts your bottom line, even though it looks like you are adding to it with new business.
Cass explains: “Suppose a customer’s preferred method of communication is text messaging, but you are an agency that only takes phone calls. You might not want to take on this customer. All you’re going to do is frustrate them, and they’re going to leave and probably tell other people how terrible your customer experience is. You’re better off referring this customer to another agency. This is what happens in other industries. If you have a foot problem, and you go to a cardiologist, the cardiologist refers you to a podiatrist. If your marriage is in trouble, and you go to a bankruptcy attorney, the bankruptcy attorney refers you to a divorce attorney. These people refer each other’s business all the time, because they know what their specialty is. Insurance agencies have to start doing the same, instead of trying to take on all business when they know they shouldn’t.” (For advice on how to be more strategic when writing business, see Getting Serious About Niching: Introduction For Insurance Agencies.)
You must also focus on your account managers. Cass agrees on the importance of developing an “account manager-centric culture,” and not just because account managers are the hardest employees to replace and train, but because account managers are the employees closest to current customers and therefore in the best position to provide an optimal customer experience.
Finally, you must be serious about the process of creating and delivering amazing customer experiences. Everybody has a role in it. “As an owner, my job is to work on the business, not in it. My job is to provide the workflows, assistance, and training to make sure that the account managers have everything they need. The account managers’ job is to take care of the customer. And let’s not forget that the customer has a job, too: to pay the bills. If the customer stops paying the bills, that means the account managers might not be doing their jobs. And if the account managers are not doing their jobs, that’s my fault as an owner, because it’s my responsibility to make sure account managers are doing their jobs well.”
We’ll continue to talk about account manager issues, customer segmentation, and creating amazing customer experiences on future episodes. To keep up to date on our discussions, be sure to join the Digital Broker LinkedIn group, where we post information about every new episode and take questions and comments from our listeners. Let us know what you think!
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