Employee Spotlight - Luisa Guzman, Inside Sales
Our next employee spotlight is shining on one of our brightest stars, Luisa Guzman. Co-workers and agents alike love working with Luisa! Here are 5 things Luisa shared with us.
1. Who is one of your heroes?
Mother Teresa. A nun who spent her life among the poor in Calcutta, and who was declared a Saint.
2. What is something about you that would surprise people?
I am a twin.
3. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
I have a small blanket I’ve kept since I was a baby. I need to smell it every night before going to bed.
4. What is something you would like to learn to do?
I would like to learn how to cook. I am a cooking disaster.
5. What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
Be Impeccable With Your Word. Don't Take Anything Personally. Don't Make Assumptions. Always Do Your Best.
This is the second in a series of how to generate referrals. Please use the comments section and share your ideas on how you generate referrals and what has worked best in your agency.
Getting Referrals - Client Featured Marketing - Write Your Story
Do you have a client success story? If you’re in business, the answer is yes. Your agency wouldn’t be open without happy clients and customers.
Take a close look at your entire customer base and identify all of your unique client success stories. I bet you’ll be surprised at the number of success stories you can identify. Now that you have identified your success stories consider how you can use these in your marketing materials. You don’t need to share multiple success stories. Find one or two and write your marketing stories highlighting your happy client and how you went above and beyond to make them happy. If possible, include a photograph or video of your client or their situation.
Here’s an example, has one of your clients left the office without signing a form and you stopped by their house to get it signed. Or maybe one of your clients had a small house fire and you stopped to check on the family. Consider taking a picture of the fire damage. Follow-up after the contractors have come out to repair the damage. You may consider a video to capture how satisfied your client is with the repairs. You could use the picture you took before the damage and and one after the damage is repaired. People love before and after pictures.
Share your stories on your agency’s website, your agency’s social media pages and any and all of your marketing collateral. Always be looking for client success stories.
If you include a client success story in your marketing you should see referrals in 2 ways. Let your client know you are including their story in your marketing and online web marketing and they will share on their social media pages. Second, client success stories found in your marketing materials show your agency cares about customers, the community and you’re good at what you do.
Featuring clients and sharing your agency’s success is a great way to showcase your services and attract new clients seeking those services.
Getting people to write reviews is a great way to increase your online visibility and boost your web marketing presence. As an independent insurance agent you want people to write reviews about the great service and products you offer. But, not all reviews are positive. If you get a negative review, never assume the best response is no response.
Your potential customers won’t count you out based on one negative comment or review. However, you will gain respect for your business if you respond in a helpful and positive way. Always remain level-headed and calm and don’t let your emotions take over when writing your response. Take some time before responding and gather your thoughts. Formulate a polite response with empathy, acknowledge the customer and flip the switch to highlight your agency’s strengths.
Know all of your review websites and monitor them daily to every couple of days. Monitoring your review websites is a great way to get customer feedback and improve your customer service. Top review websites include Google Places, Facebook and Yelp. Respond to reviews quickly (within 24-48 hours). Never be defensive even if the customer is 100% wrong. You know the saying, “the customer is always right” (even if they are wrong). At the end of your response thank the customer for taking the time to share their issues.
Reviews whether good or bad cannot be deleted. There are limited exceptions. Yelp will only make an exception if the review violates content guidelines. Google reviews appear next to your agency’s listing in Google Maps and Google Search and include compiled reviews from other review websites like Facebook. Facebook will remove a review if it does not meet their Facebook Community Standards or if the review doesn’t focus on the product or service offered by the Facebook Business Page.
Remember when you respond to reviews, you aren’t just responding to the reviewer, you’re responding to anyone who reads the review. Your responses will give your potential clients a glimpse at how you run your agency and how your agency respects customers and clients.
Your Agency’s Central Nervous System
An agency management system could be considered your agency’s central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Your agency management system is made up of all of your policies, quotes and documentation which is essential for running your agency.
Here are 3 reasons why your agency needs an Agency Management System
1. Disaster Preparedness
An agency management system allows you peace of mind in case of a disaster. All of your files are stored in a single web-based central location. No paper files and stacks of files and folders waiting to be filled. With a web-based system you and your employees can access the same customer information from any location.
2. Reduce Your E&O Exposure
An agency management system minimizes your chances of E&O litigation. If your agency’s central nervous system is running smoothly then you have anything and everything you need as the management system creates a permanent audit trail. Your agency management system allows you to store your notes, scanned documents, saved documents, saved ACORD forms, prospect information, quotes, policies, vendors, employees and client documentation.
3. Track Performance
Your agency management system allows you to run multiple reports on your agency’s health including policy reports on your book of business, sales reports, sales growth reports, employee productivity reports and more.
There are many additional benefits to an agency management system. These are 3 that are critical to the health of your agency.
Agency Management System Audits
Ensure all of your employees are using the same standards when working in your agency’s management system. Notes should be professional and very detailed. You want to make sure your management system is used consistently among your staff. Create a manual outlining and describing how entries should be made within all the various features of your management system. Consider auditing your management system periodically to ensure everyone is meeting the standards and make corrections where necessary.
The personal attention you provide as an insurance agent is similar to that of a real estate agent. But as an insurance agent, instead of sifting through listings for a 4 bedroom, 3 full bath, fenced in yard, in an area with great schools, you’re looking for the company that best suits the client’s coverage, limit requirements and underwriting needs.
As an independent insurance agent you work with several carriers. You know what they offer and don’t offer. You know what they will cover and won’t cover. Let your customers know that you know.
Your auto insurance clients probably know that a Maserati will cost more to insure than a Mazda but they don’t know all of the factors that play into insurance rates. That’s why it’s a good idea to inform them that you are there to help and recommend the best company that best fits their situation.
Let them know:
· You know what reports are pulled by each company (MVR, CLUE, Credit)
· You know if a claim will cause their rate to go up
· You know if a client is at risk for non-renewal
· You know what can lower a client’s premium
· You know what coverages they should carry
· You know when a violation will drop off which renewal policy
· You know what claims will be covered or rejected
When you let your clients know exactly what they should expect they will be more likely to use you to find their next house...OOPS, insurance policy.
When I asked our Sales Representatives, what topics do agents ask about most, all said referrals. The following blog will be the first in a series of how to generate referrals. Please use the comments section and share your ideas on how you generate referrals and what has worked best in your agency.
Getting Referrals - A Great Way To Stay Top Of Mind
To increase revenue growth you have to either increase the number of customers or increase your prices. As an independent insurance agent you can’t control the prices, or in insurance terms, the rates and commission percentages. You have to increase revenue by increasing customers and increasing your policy count for each client.
One way to increase the number of clients is referral business. Referral business is great if you can get it. The tough part is getting it. Here’s an idea to generate referral business.
I bought my house about 4 ½ years ago. When I closed on the house I received the usual bottle of champagne and congratulations Hallmark card from my real estate agent. It’s been some time since I closed but I still receive E-Cards from her for many holidays and my birthday. She has my email address and she knows when I was born so she’s using that to her advantage staying top of mind several times a year.
So here’s a scenario. I’m out with friends and one of them tells me they are planning to move. The question comes up, “Do you know a good real estate agent?”. Well, it’s happened to me a couple of times since I bought my house. I have a terrible memory but I remember my real estate agent’s name because I just received a “Happy Spring” email from her.
Now replace “real estate agent” with “insurance agent” in that example. You have your client’s email addresses and their birthdays. Set aside some time and email your clients wishing them a “Happy” whatever, Happy Spring, Happy Arbor Day, Happy Birthday. This keeps you top of mind with your clients. They may be out with friends and one of them says, “My insurance is so high. Who is your insurance company?”.
Poke around online and find free websites to send E-Cards. Don’t send a bland, generic email from your email service. There are several great, FREE E-Card websites that allow you to customize the card with a personal message. Look for E-Cards that have limited advertisements. There are services you can pay for that don’t display ads. Some are affordable if you want to avoid sending cards with advertisements.
Always address your clients by their name to make it personal. If you consistently send E-Cards you will see it pay off in the long run. I know my real estate agent did.
Cell Phone Etiquette When Working With Clients
In the Seinfeld episode entitled “The Millennium” one of the storylines involves Elaine. After shopping at the clothing store Putumayo, Elaine heads to the checkout counter where she is rudely ignored by the clerk who is on a personal phone call. Later Elanie is on a mission to run the store out of business.
In this cell phone obsessed day and age it’s become even harder to stay off of the phone. It’s not just calls, it’s texts, news notifications, social media post notifications and more. You don’t have to leave the cell phone locked away while you are at work. But consider a couple of cell phone etiquette tips while at the office.
When we are working with clients we should give them 100%. Make them feel as important as they are. Your customers are your business. Giving them your undivided attention allows you to concentrate on the personal attention they deserve. If you are expecting an important call and you must have your phone in view, tell your client in advance.
If that important phone call does comes in, make sure you have a professional ringtone. You want to look professional in every aspect of your business.
Vikki Thomas has been working in the insurance industry since 1995. Vikki has worked for several carriers in customer service, quality assurance, underwriting, product management and marketing. Vikki has worked at AccuAgency since 2008.