Page 1




In This Issue Who is the Agency MVP? Customer Service Best Practices 22 Little Things That Are HUGE Sustaining Customer Relationships Embracing Technology to Boost Customer Engagement

Texas PIA P.O. Box 700877 Dallas, TX 75370 (972) 862-3333


In This Issue Who Is the Insurance Agency MVP?

Page 5

What Makes an CSR Champion?

Page 7

Customer Service: Best Practices for Independent Insurance Agents

Page 9

4 Customer Service Tips

Page 11

22 Little Things that are HUGE

Page 13

Sustaining Customer Relationship in an Evolving Climate

Page 23

Embracing Technology to Boost Customer Engagement

Page 25

The Most Important Sales Conversation

Page 27

Avoid Gaps When Moving an Account

Page 30

Texas News Round-Up

Page 33

David Gorman As insurance agents, customer service should be a large part of our overall plan to separate ourselves in the eyes of the consumer. In years past, this was done thru good old fashion one on one interaction. Today, your service and how you are viewed is perceived on a different scale. Online reviews, social media posts, and other methods of consumer interaction are viewed as more valuable today than just a hand shake. In this month’s issue we will address customer service, like it or hate it, your true calling.

One of the most important ways we serve our members is through our Annual Convention & Expo. This year’s event, scheduled for May 17th-19th in Arlington will provide the professional development, networking opportunities and entertainment for which we are known. In addition, we’ve added an “Agency Owner’s Day” event to provide additional support to those who fill these key positions. I celebrate our shared commitment to our customers! Yours,

David David (Red) Gorman Office: 214-374-9997 Email:


Page 2

Join Texas PIA Now If you’re not yet a member, discover the benefits! Membership in Texas PIA is an investment that provides tangible benefits & services, saving you time and money so you can increase your agency’s bottom line. As a member of the Texas Professional Insurance Agents, you are also a member of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents and have access to a variety of valuable benefits and information that can support you in the growth and success of your business. Our focus is entirely on you, the professional Texas agent. Member Benefits Include: •

Insurance products to sell

Agency Marketing Guide

Agency Revenue Tools

DocIT for Agents and more

Together we’ve formed an alliance of experts to deal with any type of issue or question you may face. Visit for more information. TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

Page 3


Page 4

Who Is the Insurance Agency MVP? by Barry Seigerman,, July 20, 2017 Who is the most valuable person in your agency? It isn’t the founder, owner/principal, head of finance or accounting, IT/ social media guru, claims person, head of HR, or the high-profile producer with the biggest book of business. It’s the customer service rep — the CSR. Today, CSRs may have titles such as Account Manager or Account Exec, Senior CSR, Relationship Manager, or others, but they all refer to that special person who performs many key, difficult tasks. The CSR role I’m referring to can be at an independent agency, wholesale broker, captive insurance company, or any retail insurance provider that has relationships with customers. At our agency, we respectfully referred to the CSR as “The Mother of the Account.” The CSR had full authority over all of the functions and services related to the customer and had full authority over the producer as well. The CSR was often taken on joint client visits with a producer to enhance relationships and to get a firsthand grasp of the total account. For support, I interviewed two savvy professionals whose roots are firmly embedded as CSRs in the business, and with whom I’ve personally had the pleasure of working. CSRs are ‘essential’ to your success Laura Senn states clearly that the CSR is essential to an agency’s success. She says CSRs were originally order-takers who have evolved to the level of an account manager to help customers understand their insurance needs, and the CSR is now the front-line relationship builder. Laura adds that the important traits and skills a CSR needs are the following: •

Technical skills

The ability to see and understand a person’s or business’ needs and exposures, and know what is important in their lives

Strong, two-way communication with management

Commitment to continuing education and an interest in taking professional courses and becoming licensed

A desire and passion for growing and taking advantage of the agency’s career path

The ability to work closely with producers, especially on joint calls with VIP customers

The ability to work closely with the client to identify ongoing insurance needs and not perpetuate the “sins” of the prior agency/carrier

Laura began her career as a CSR, rose to supervisor, then personal lines department manager. She eventually became an SVP, an agency principal and one of my partners until the agency was sold. Don’t micromanage the CSR Selecting Melissa Van Schaick to interview was easy as she epitomized who and what the essential CSR should be. Incredibly, Melissa has retained customer relationships for almost 30 years — many long after the original producer (including me) has moved on. Melissa agrees TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

Page 5

that when it comes to service, agency management should draw a line in the sand beyond which a producer cannot cross so as not to interfere with the CSR — who should never be micromanaged by the producer. Melissa also feels strongly that management can help CSRs be more effective by: •

Providing the best available IT/agency management system for maximum productivity,

Consistently reaffirming the agency’s culture to all staff,

Having CSRs accompany producers on selective joint calls to enhance relationships and retention,

Encouraging CSRs to take professional courses and education,

Providing the opportunity for CSRs to become licensed and to be paid for new business production, and

Embracing CSRs as part of the sales team and including their participation in sales meetings.

Melissa feels that the most essential traits needed to be a great CSR are: learn to listen, reassure the customer, answer questions directly, have empathy and compassion, and spend time talking with the customer. CSRs are the infantry, on the front lines every day, in the foxhole, never knowing what the next phone call or email will ask of them. They are always there, every day, doing what they do to provide the best service they can to satisfy the customer.


Page 6

What Makes an CSR Champion? Ask the Winners Ms. Brianne Head, CIC, CISR, 2017 Outstanding CSR of the Year® Brianne Head is Director of Client Services for Independent Insurance Group, Inc., in Dallas, Texas, is the winner of the Outstanding CSR of the Year® Award. This is the most recognized and distinguished honor available to insurance customer service representatives. An official presentation of both of Ms. Head’s state and national awards was made at the Dallas MEGA in October 2017. Ms. Head was chosen from a field of 37 state winners by the Society of Certified Insurance Services Representatives (CISR) and the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC). Five finalists were picked from the state winners by a select panel of judges who evaluated them based on their participation in the insurance community and the impact and creativity of their essays. The topic was: A friend who is a CSR has come to you for advice about a new customer service job in an agency in another city. What five factors about the employer and the position would you advise them to consider before accepting the job? In her essay Ms. Head writes, “Ensuring the overall office culture and atmosphere align with your personal needs will equate to a happier you. This information can be gleaned through several avenues: social media, the interview process, and tenure of both past and present employees—all can provide valuable insight. . . An old adage alleges that people leave bosses, not jobs; I believe people leave cultures that do not align with personal beliefs, needs and desires.”

Ms. Michelle Bjarnson, ACE/Claims Magazine Customer Champion Award Winner Michelle Bjarnson is with Generali Global Assistance (formerly CSA Travel Protection). Within the company, Bjarnson holds the title of Voice of the Customer. Her most memorable claim was also her most difficult. “Two couples traveled to Africa to enjoy what could have been an incredible African safari. Instead, shortly after arrival, they were attacked by rebels carrying machetes and guns, leaving them seriously injured and needing our emergency assistance to get the medical care they needed while traveling abroad, followed by special arrangements to return home,” says Bjarnson. “I specifically handled the resulting claims after the return home. This one hit me really hard, but gave me such an incredible and rewarding opportunity to help, support and console those truly in need during such a tragic time.” It’s precisely this type of service and effort for which Bjarnson was recognized as the ACE/ Claims Customer Champion. “I’m honored to have won this prestigious award, and proud to be called the Voice of the Customer. I love advocating for our business partners and consumers in the travel protection industry,” she says. “Customer advocacy is such an important role that every company needs because you can see the rewards in your contributions at every level. That’s more impactful and positive than I ever could have imagined possible.” See source information for this article on page 33


Page 7


Page 8

Customer Service: Best Practices for Independent Insurance Agents from Insureon Solutions There’s a lot of competition out there for small business clients. Investing in a good website, providing the best coverage at competitive prices, and implementing a strong marketing strategy are all factors that attract customers. But the secret to keeping your current clients is surprisingly old school: excellent customer service. Customers want to know that they're spending their money with an agent who exceeds expectations and treats them with kindness and respect.

Why Customer Service Matters for Independent Insurance Agents Whether a company is big or small, customer service plays a critical role in consumers’ decision making. According to the 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer report, providing "excellent customer service" is the second most important factor consumers consider when choosing a company to do business with. The report also says… •

95 percent of consumers talk about their negative customer experiences.

42 percent say a positive word-of-mouth referral is most likely to get them to try a business.

60 percent say they decided not to use a business after a poor service experience.

74 percent say they have spent more with a business because of a history of positive experiences.

If you’re just starting an agency, it can be hard to gain new clients' trust.

Customer Service 101 for Independent Insurance Agents Good customer service starts with hiring people who are suited to the position. Typically, that means looking for someone who is… •



A good communicator.

You also want to make sure you have a program in place that helps your employees provide excellent service. For instance, you may want to: •

Consider your customer service practices from the client's point of view.

Create action steps for handling an unhappy client.

Establish time estimates for resolving problems.

A good plan is essential for resolving issues, but you also want to minimize them from happening in the first place. TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

Page 9

Digital Customer Service Strategies for Independent Insurance Agents According to the report, more people are looking for customer service through their social media accounts. This means independent agents may need to pay attention to their digital customer service strategy, too. Try these digitally savvy customer service tips: •

Ask what channel they prefer for service. Finding out this information upfront makes it easier to meet their expectations.

Address negative feedback. No one likes mean comments, but it happens sometimes. Try not to take them personally. Instead, respond with courtesy and send helpful links. You might also want to ask a disgruntled client to send more information via direct message.

Avoid stale responses. Getting back to an unsatisfied client quickly is important, but using boilerplate responses usually turns people off. You may see more loyalty by putting some effort into a personalized response.

Simplify referrals. Add a “Refer a Friend” button on your website and gently remind clients to tell their friends about your services.

The bottom line is customers expect positive customer service experiences across communication channels. Make sure your independent insurance agency is prepared. For more information on digital strategies, see article on page 25


Page 10

4 Customer Service Tips for Independent Insurance Agents from Abram Interstate Many of us have paid our dues working in various service industry jobs. Whether that’s waiting tables, working retail, or something else of the source, those lessons learned are still valuable for you as an Independent Insurance Agent. QQ Solutions has some tips to help you improve your customer service skills and win new insurance customers.

1. Make Time for One-on-One Interviews People will want to meet you in person. After all, they will want to have confidence in you before entrusting you with their insurance needs. The business relationship between you and your clients can last for years, so make it easy for them to schedule a time to sit down with you and ask any questions they have. If you make them feel valued and respect their time, they will be far more likely to choose you. Offer to explain any and all of your services and methods so they are fully knowledgeable about you as an agent.

2. Make Sure Your Website is Comprehensive and Easy to Use Clients will most often find you through some sort of online interaction, which means that you need to put on a great first impression when they arrive at your website. Provide a customer-friendly experience online by having your products/types of business clearly stated, and a quick way to get a quote and/or get ahold of you, either online, or on the phone. It’s also helpful if you have your background as an insurance agent easily visible so they don’t have to wonder or search too hard to find out who you are and why they should trust you with their business.

3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes When you speak with prospective clients, remember that they are people with families, lives, and jobs. Get to know them by starting the conversation on a light note. Ask about these things and you will make them feel more at ease before you start to talk business. Making your potential clients feel comfortable is important, and ultimately they will feel better working with you if they feel valued by you.


Ask Customers to Spread the Word

If you have a great experience with a client, ask them to tell their friends and family about it. People have absolutely no problem recommending an agent to their friends and family, especially if they feel like the agent is knowledgeable and nice. By encouraging your clients to spread their positive stories about working with you, you’re providing a service to new clients before they even walk in the door! We all know that this is a customer-oriented business, but amid the stresses of everyday life as an independent agent, it can be easy to lose focus.


Page 11


Page 12

22 Little Things that are HUGE For Agency Customer Service By John F. Carroll, August 18, 2015, Insurance Splash A lot of agents think sales and customer service are two separate aspects of running an insurance agency. I don’t – I think great customer service is a sales strategy. If your entire book of business is thrilled to do business with you, loves interacting with your agency and feels appreciated as a customer you won’t need to prospect – you’d have a sales force of customers doing it for you! The difference between giving an amazing customer experience and a horrible one is usually just a few little things here and there that aren’t too hard if you establish processes in your agency to follow through with them. Here are 22 little things you can do to improve your insurance agency’s customer service. (I saved the most important one for last.)

1 – Follow-Up Throughout the Claim Establish a procedure within your agency for following up with customers who have claims. It’s easy to think it’s the claims department’s job but that theory will hurt you. I was a casualty claim adjuster so take my word for it: insurance claims will get ugly if communication breaks down but an agent can play an integral role in preventing delays and problems. You can come up with your own schedule but I think most agencies would benefit from reaching out to clients one-week, two-weeks, and four-weeks after a claim is filed. It’s the opposite of sales calls – the more you call, the more they appreciate it. Just be careful not to set the wrong expectations – express care, concern, and empathy but defer specific claims questions (like how liability is determined) to the people who specialize in it.


– Thank You Calls For All Referrals

Every single time a client recommends your agency you should personally reach out to him and thank him for the referral. Referred business is absolutely the best type of lead and it’s important to encourage the behavior. I know some agents who only thank the referrer when they sell the policy. That is a ridiculous idea. When you fail to make the sale and still reach out to thank the referrer it’s better because it says “I appreciate your recommendation” instead of “Thanks for helping me make more money”.

3 – Offer a Drink (not that kind) Offering a drink makes clients feel more like a guest in your home than a client in your office. Coffee and bottled water are always great, but offering a particularly enjoyable drink can be a TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

Page 13


Page 14

real bonus – think lemonade on a hot summer day, hot chocolate with whipped cream in the winter, or egg nog in December. When they’ve got a drink to enjoy, your clients will be more relaxed and likely to stick around to hear more about their options for life insurance.

4 – Warm Transfer All Phone Calls Remember the last time you were speaking to a human being who transferred you to a voicemail? Don’t you love that?! It happens to me at least once a week and I can’t imagine a more customer-unfriendly behavior. When clients call you to report a claim, do you give them the phone number for the claims department? Do you forward their call to the right number and tell them to press “2 then 7 then 1″? Or do you stay with them on the line, press the buttons for them and introduce them to the person they need to speak with.

If you don’t know how to do this on your phone, figure it out today.

5 – Wish a Happy Birthday One of my closest agents spends an hour every day calling clients on their birthdays. A lot of agents think he’s crazy but he swears that he gets more positive feedback, more referrals, more cross sales, and more positive energy from those phone calls than anything else he does. People are happy on their birthdays and recognizing that makes them feel good. There’s a decent chance you might be the only person who wishes them a happy birthday! Why not give it a try for one month?


Page 15

6 – Welcome New Clients on Facebook If you sign up a new client and save them a lot of money ask if you can take a picture and put it on your Facebook page. I’ll bet you anything that if you saved them a bunch of money and they agree to the picture, they’ll not only like your page but they’ll make a post to all their friends about how much money they saved and how great of an experience it was. You’ll also show all your current Facebook fans that you still have competitive rates so they don’t need to shop around at renewal time.


– ID Card Holders

I used to work with an agency that made little ID Card Holders by cutting plastic photo album sheets into four pieces with a pair of scissors. They would even do it in front of the client! Your clients pay thousands of dollars for that little card – put it in a nice package! The ones that explain what to do in an accident are particularly good because in a weird way they allow you to help your clients at a time of great distress, even though you can’t be there with them.


– Look For Discount Opportunities

When a client calls you up to talk about something, take a few moments to tell them about any additional discounts they may be eligible for. (Ask their permission first to make sure they have time)


Page 16

I know some agents that don’t like give away discounts because they think giving discounts to existing customers is a pay cut. I disagree – it can be an incredibly positive experience for a client to get a discount when they were least expecting it. Would you rather give back a few dollars of commission and keep a client for another 20 years or keep their rates as high as possible so you lose them in next year?


– Use Your Customer’s Name

Everybody loves the sound of their own name. Use it. When you say a customer’s name as much as possible it shows you respect them as an individual and often makes people feel the need to be more respectful and friendlier to you. Does your client have a name that’s difficult to pronounce? Good! Take the time to learn to pronounce it properly and they will appreciate your gesture even more!

10 – Call When There’s Not a Problem Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? It says that you spend 80% of your time dealing with clients who make you 20% of your money. If that happens, when will you get to speak to the 20% that make you 80%? If you wait for them to call you it’ll probably never happen – until they’re calling to cancel! If you think it’d be too hard to reach every customer do this: Make a list of the 50 customers that make you the most money and schedule 1 phone call a week. You can make one positive phone call a week. I personally like the time right before a renewal goes out because it allows you to have a friendly conversation with no business on the table but when the renewal arrives a week later they’ll remember the relationship they have with you.

11 – Always Establish the “Next Step” Whether you’re helping a client through underwriting, policy issuance, a billing dispute, or a claim make sure you end every interaction by explaining what the next step is. People don’t always need their problems solved, but in almost every situation your clients want to know that things are moving forward and what their expectations should be. My experience as a claims adjuster made this crystal clear to me. People are very patient and understanding but they NEED to know things are moving forward.

If nothing is moving forward then create the impression it is.


– Accept Responsibility

I don’t care if the billing department messed up, the underwriters lost your documentation, or the dog ate your client files – always accept the responsibility yourself. The reason is very simple: When you blame others for what happened it makes you look powerless. If the insurance agent has no power then it’s time to call an 800 number. On the contrary, accepting responsibility for a mistake makes clients think you are in control and will be able to help them when they need it.


Page 17

People can usually tell it wasn’t your fault anyway and they’ll often try to talk you out of blaming yourself. (I have a bachelor’s degree in reverse psychology)

13 – Keep the Kids Entertained Your office is a professional environment and you don’t need a playpen in the corner full of grimy toys but it helps to have some activities to entertain the kids. Coloring books and crayons are cheap and work well for a wide range of ages. While you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few other amenities that can help with kids like a spare diaper or a juice box. You don’t want any excuses for the client to leave halfway through your sales pitch. As a father of a 1 and 3 year old I can honestly say that a clean diaper in a time of need, will make me a lifelong client indeed!

14 – If You Must Put Someone On Hold, Ask Them “Insurance agency, please hold…” CLICK. Have your customers ever heard that? I hope not, but I know I’ve heard it a lot when calling agencies! I understand that things get crazy, but it doesn’t generally set the tone for a positive conversation when you start by telling the caller what to do. Although it’s still probably less than ideal, a change to something like, “Insurance Agency, can you please hold?” wait for the answer and reply “thank you I really appreciate it.” will help make things a bit less tense.

While we’re at it, don’t tell someone you’re going to put them on hold “for a minute” unless it’s really going to be a 60 seconds or less. People can take that quite literally and setting the wrong expectations will lead to a worse customer experience.

15- Give Great Introductions To Co-Workers When you’re handing the phone over to one of your co-workers because they specialize in a certain situation do you say, “Here’s Jen – she does all the claims”? Why not try something like this instead: “Although I want to help you with this, I’d like you to speak with our claims specialist, Jen. She used to work as a claim adjuster and has over 10 years experience helping our customers get through the claim process. If anyone on earth can get you through this as painlessly as possible, it’s Jen.” Not only is that customer going to feel more comfortable and taken care of, you’ll also make your co-worker’s job easier because the customer will listen to everything they say without doubting or questioning anything!


– Remember the Family

When people ask me about my girls I appreciate it so much more than when they ask about how I’m doing. I don’t really like to talk about myself but I’ll talk about them all day and when someone remembers that I have two daughters it really shows that they’re paying attention to me. It’s best if you can remember names, but it never hurts to ask, “so how are the little ones doing?”


Page 18

17 – Thank You Notes We all know a handwritten note can go a long way in today’s society. The reason it’s so valuable is also the reason we don’t do it – because it’s a pain in the butt! Make it easy on yourself by making a bunch of pre-stamped envelopes with the return address already written on them. Send one hand-written thank you note every day and over time you’ll make a big impression on your clients, prospects, and business contacts.

18 – Ask For Improvement Recommendations Ask your clients if there’s anything you could be doing to improve their relationship with you. You’d be surprised what you find out – you’ll probably get better ideas than this article! The added bonus is that by asking this question you’re giving the customer the idea that they have some say in the way they are treated and you also let them know that their experience is important to you. You don’t have to listen to everything they say, but by asking the question they’ll think you care.

19 – Act on Improvement Recommendations I have found that when a customer points out an opportunity or idea for improving your business, they’re usually on to something.


Page 19

Customer suggestions aren’t always 100% doable, but they almost always identify a problem that should be addressed more effectively. Next time a customer makes a suggestion that seems impossible don’t just dismiss it. Think about another way you could to solve (or ease) the problem they’ve identified and place that change into action. And don’t forget to follow up with them explaining the change you’ve made. Next time a customer makes a suggestion that seems impossible don’t just dismiss it. Think about another way you could to solve (or ease) the problem they’ve identified and place that change into action. And don’t forget to follow up with them explaining the change you’ve made.

20 – Don’t Say Bad Things About Anyone Don’t say anything bad about other insurance companies, other agents, other customers, people you work with or people you don’t work with. Just don’t say anything bad about anyone. It just makes you look like a bad person and will cause your clients to question whether the kindness you exhibit toward them is genuine or if you’ll bad-mouth them as soon as they walk out the door. If you don’t have anything nice to say…


– Proofread Your Emails

Email is one of the least effective forms of communication. We don’t always realize it, but when you speak on the phone or in person there are hundreds of hidden cues both parties use to fully understand each other. Email removes those clues to understanding and many people aren’t very effective with expressing themselves using written communication to begin with so emails are a customer service disaster waiting to happen. Here’s some good advice: Before you hit send, read the email aloud to yourself in the most snotty voice possible because there’s a decent chance that’s exactly how the other person will interpret it.

22 – #1 Customer Service Tip: It Comes From the Top I have worked with hundreds of insurance agencies and there is ultimately one thing that will make or break your agency’s ability to provide great customer service: Excellent customer service comes from the top. It doesn’t matter who the employees are, if the person running the agency is not 100% committed to the customers then no one will be. I have seen it time and time again… Fortunately the opposite is also true – A leader who puts the customers first will have employees who deliver the same promise. If you’re the head of your agency, how are you going to demonstrate to your team that the customers come first?


Page 20


Page 21


Page 22

Sustaining Customer Relationship by Mark Berven, October 12, 2017,

I frequently travel across the country to meet with agents and brokers who tell me about the increasing number of challenges they face as they work to grow their businesses — businesses that serve a vital role in their communities. I’ve had the opportunity to understand these issues first-hand, which is the first step in creating stronger partnerships and helping agent and broker firms keep their communities safer and more protected.

Responsiveness Agencies, carriers and brokers alike know all too well that customer retention in the insurance and financial services industry is becoming an increasing challenge. Carriers that promptly respond to the needs of a broker are carriers that grow with brokers. A strong relationship is important, but this alone may no longer be enough to retain customers as their expectations for prompt, technologically driven solutions grow. Moving forward, firms will need to meet and exceed those changing expectations. Carriers will also have an important role to play as they translate purchasing preferences into true riskmanagement solutions, competing to earn a spot within the limited shelf space that firms have available in a competitive market environment.

Flexibility The property casualty market is changing rapidly; risks that were routine only a few years ago have increased in complexity, requiring carriers to demonstrate more flexibility than ever before. Firm consolidation trends are fostering the need for agents and brokers to demonstrate a deeper understanding of customers’ protection needs now more than ever. Carriers are also being called on to provide greater flexibility in identifying solutions and product offerings that allow agents and brokers to provide their clients with options and choice in solving their risk management needs.

Innovation It goes without saying; insurance is undergoing massive change. Agents and brokers have long worked to build a stable foundation across the industry to provide guidance and counsel to individuals and businesses with the goal of delivering both peace of mind and protection. However, industry disruption driven by technological advancements is triggering a change in buying behaviors. Additionally, customers have more to protect and they want a solution that provides them with security in a high-tech environment. This shift in consumer behavior is driving existing carriers to double-down on technology to translate a consumer’s purchasing preferences into real solutions.


Page 23

A tech-driven transformation is underway; new risks are being introduced into the market, such as autonomous vehicles (both personal and commercial), smart homes and the concept of ride-sharing, to name a few. To address these evolving market risks, Nationwide recently launched a $100 million venture capital operation focused on customer-centric solutions that help members: • • • •

Live comfortably in retirement; Meet their insurance and financial needs in novel and digital ways; Protect their data and digital assets; and Protect themselves in the evolving area of mobility.

This is no time for “business as usual.” Innovation will create massive value, and opportunity, in our industry going forward.

Communication Carriers that recognize these challenges are working to stay on top of the trends and are listening to their partners across firms. Communication is key: With ongoing dialogue and collaboration, we can design creative solutions like self-service options and quoting systems that improve customer satisfaction and allow firms to deliver best-in-class service. This focus will allow firms to maintain their reputation as valuable resources in their communities, exceeding customer expectations and ultimately driving industry growth. I believe that the more successful carriers will bring together superior service, creative customer options and a strong brand that will enhance customer retention. Carriers that offer expertise and breadth of products and services will present firms with a distinct advantage in serving their customers. The broker’s role is critically important in cultivating customer loyalty. But success requires thinking differently. Investing in technological capabilities to stay current and allowing innovation to help drive creativity in the quote, decision-making and underwriting processes will be the signs of progress. And above all, firms that can evolve with customers to give them the breadth, depth, expertise and ease of doing business as their needs change will be able to maintain strong relationships. Leading through this changing landscape and staying tuned into the evolving challenges that follow is how, together, we will create great experiences for producers and clients. Nationwide is committed to listening to our brokers and their clients; we are committed to being the most responsive to the needs of our producers; we will demonstrate flexibility where value is created for all parties, and we will communicate through the process. This has driven our success for more than 90 years, and with our focus on innovation and evolving with the insurance consumer we are optimistic about the future.


Page 24

Embracing Technology to Boost Customer Engagement The customer service field experienced rapid changes in 2017, and a new CallVU report says this trend is prompting conflicting responses from consumers. Most people (57%) still prefer making a telephone call when it comes to customer service. But the number of digital adopters is inching up. Baby Boomers and Generation Xers continue to seek out self-service customer service options. An overwhelming majority of people in these categories (80%) say they would use visual IVR (Interactive Voice Response) services.



Would use touch-tone or speech automated phone menus (IVR)

Would use touch-visual (IVR)

For businesses, moving customer services into the digital sphere means saving time and resources. Digitizing customer services also frees up staff to handle more high-value tasks. But agencies must find creative solutions to reflect differences in consumer tastes. These challenges provide an opportunity to focus on a customer journey-map-based approach to digital transformation! By starting with a vision for digitally-enabled customer service (what you want the service experience to be, what business goals you are trying achieve, what you will measure for success) and then creating customer personas and journey maps, you will be able to create a transformation roadmap. That roadmap will include people, process and technology changes that you will make over time to reach that vision, allowing for incremental changes over time (instead of taking a riskier, big-bang approach to changes). First Steps For example, having e-signature and multiple e-payment capabilities can make a policy change paperless and seamless for the customer, something that has been shown to improve service “ease of use� scores. Chat capabilities (human or chatbot) to walk customers through basic to tricky processes is a boon to customer service, with leaders like Lemonade and Geico leveraging them at almost every step of the customer lifecycle. Co-browsing options can be utilized to help customers navigate particularly tricky process steps. Customer analytics can be used to identify customers at risk of leaving, help them manage their risks, and even identify crossand up-sell opportunities. Continued on page 31


Page 25


Page 26

The Most Important Sales Conversation by John Chapin

There is a much overlooked aspect of sales success that is rarely talked about and people pay little attention to, it is: self-talk. The most important conversation is the one you have with yourself. The reason that conversation is so important is because the words and language you use both reveal and reinforce your beliefs about yourself and the world. Those beliefs dictate the action you take, or don’t take, and ultimately determine success or failure. If you have a problem selling, you more than likely have a self-talk problem. The difference between the top salespeople and everyone else, is that the top people became aware of their negative self-talk and beliefs and reprogrammed their language and beliefs to positive ones, or, they were one of the lucky few who received positive programming right from the get go. The latter by the way is the exception, most of us received negative programming growing up. Either way, if you want to become a champion, you need to ensure that your self-talk is positive, upbeat, and supports you.

How to identify and solve possible self-talk issues Step 1: Awareness Like everything else in life, awareness is step one. You can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have. If you are overweight, but you don’t think you are, the problem won’t get fixed. If your finances are wrong, but you don’t know there’s a problem, you won’t get them right. If you have a self-talk problem, you need to be aware of it before you can change it. So the first thing you want to do is monitor your self-talk. What do you catch yourself saying about yourself and the world around you? Are most of your conversations negative or positive? Do you find yourself saying negative things about the economy, your particular market, your industry, or your product? How about your self-talk about you? Do you believe you aren’t smart enough, young enough, old enough, don’t have enough energy, have too much energy, that bad things always happen to you, or that the odds are always stacked against you? Your beliefs will be your reality. Step 2: Getting your self-talk right If you realize you have a self-talk problem, here are some ways to work on it: a. Positive Affirmations Many people are familiar with affirmations and have either tried them in the past or use them currently. In a nutshell, positive affirmations are a series of positive statements which reinforce a belief you want to have about yourself. For example, if you want to have more self-confidence, you might use affirmations such as: “I am confident”, “I believe in myself”, “I feel my confidence increasing everyday”, and other similar statements.


Page 27

b. Positive Afformations

Noah St. John coined the phrase Afformations in his book by the same name. Afformations are similar to Affirmations but they are slightly different in that they are in the form of questions versus statements. In the case of Afformations, if you wanted to have more self-confidence, you would use questions such as: “Why am I so confident?”, “Why is it so easy for me to believe in myself and do the things I need to do?”, “Why do I have so much talent and ability?” The theory is that while your brain may be able to argue with a statement (affirmation) you make such as “I am confident”, it does not argue but rather searches for an answer to the question when you ask, “Why am I so confident?” Again, you can check out Noah’s book where he lists Afformations for most areas of life that people struggle with. Note: There are four ways to work with affirmations and afformations: listening to a recording of them, reading them, writing them, and saying them to yourself either out loud or silently. Ideally if you are vocalizing them, you want to say them with as much feeling and emotion as possible. It’s best to work with affirmations and affirmations first thing in the morning, right before going to bed, and then, if you can a few times during the day. c. Psycho-Cybernetics The most popular psycho-cybernetic technique to shift selftalk is to cancel out negative statements. You do this by saying the word “cancel” after you catch yourself saying something negative and then following the word “cancel” with a positive statement. For example, if you catch yourself saying, “Why do things always go wrong for me?”, you’d say “cancel”, out loud if possible, and then follow that with either an Affirmation such as: “Things always go right for me”, or an Afformation such as, “Why do things always go right for me?” d. Clean up your environment Specifically eliminate negatives and negative people from your environment. Where you end up 5, 10, 15 years from now will come down to what you put in your brain and who you hang out with. You cannot watch the evening news and be positive. You also cannot hang out with negative people and have positive self-talk for any length of time. Finally, keep in mind that everyone has some negative self-talk occasionally. In fact, the majority of champions have had self-talk problems caused by major self-esteem and selfconfidence issues. Many were plagued by insecurities that were constantly reinforced with negative self-talk. The key is that they recognized it and did something about it and that’s the key for you too. Become aware of these thoughts, catch yourself in the act, and then shift the conversation and reinforce the positive until it becomes your new habit. This does not happen overnight and takes work, but if you commit yourself to positive words and language, you should see a fairly substantial and positive shift in about 30 days. John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

Page 28


Page 29

E&O Insights: Avoid Gaps When Moving an Account by Curt Pearsall, CPCU, AIAF, CPIA, President – Pearsall Associates, Inc. and Special Consultant to the Utica National E&O Program Ask agency staff members when the last time was that they moved an account to a new carrier. They would likely say that it happens multiple times a week, possibly every day. When this happens, an alarm should go off to remind them of the many issues that could occur. The most critical issue surfaces if the client suffers a loss that would have been covered by the expiring policy but is not covered by the replacement coverage. The following errors and omissions (E&O) claim highlights this issue. The agency’s client was a landscaping and snowplowing operation. The underlying loss was from a slip and fall in a commercial parking lot. It is undisputed that the agency’s client had snow removal coverage on the prior policy, but when a new carrier has the policy, the snow removal coverage is missing. While the producer was aware of the exclusion, there is no documentation to support a discussion on this matter with the agency’s client. The damages were more than $1 million. This issue is one of the more significant trends today in E&O claims. It is critical that when an agency’s staff moves accounts to a new carrier, it must have very detailed procedures that address this matter head-on. Those procedures should include the following: A process should be in place to verify that the application used to market the account accurately describes the risk as it exists. Oftentimes, the previous year’s application is used to market the account today. The downside is that the client may have different or new exposures that need to be identified and discussed. When the agency receives the proposals from the various markets, there should be a process to verify that the coverages requested are the same as the coverages proposed. Agencies should never assume that what the agent asked for, from the carriers, is quoted. A more significant concern, with the excess and surplus market, is because carriers may exclude specific exposures. If necessary exposures are missing, such as the snowplowing exposure in the above claim, an effort should be made to secure the coverage. If the replacement coverage is not comparable to the expiring coverage, it is vital to bring the reductions to the client’s attention. This notification should be in writing and the client, if he or she is agreeable to the reductions, should be required to acknowledge the reductions in writing. Also, if the agency cannot provide the same depth of coverage through the carriers it works with, notify the client as soon as this fact is determined. Based on the coverage that is missing, the client may need to find another agency. If the agency does not complete the steps above, there is still another opportunity to identify any shortcomings in the coverage. It is at the time of a policy review. If the agency assumed that the coverage was the same, a thorough policy review would have caught the lack of coverage for snowplowing. The review should involve a comparison of the expiring policy versus the replacement coverage. Multiple sets of eyes can help to identify errors more comprehensively. Requesting the client to review the coverage is also suggested. Statements such as, “This coverage is as good as what you had before” (or Continued on page something to that effect) should definitely be avoided. TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

Page 30

Moving coverage is more than just trying to save the client premium dollars. Problems may develop if the replacement policy contains less coverage than the previous policy, and the client is unaware. If the agency really wants to minimize its potential for an E&O claim to develop, it should have a detailed procedure to address this. From “Embracing Technology to Boost Customer Engagement”, page 25

Maximizing Search Engines The survey also found that 70% of respondents call their institutions of interest after searching for the phone number online. CallVU says this result poses an encouraging opportunity for companies to guide their customers directly from their website to digital self-services, replacing the need to place a phone call. Two-thirds of respondents also say they would stop emailing, faxing or visiting a business’ brick and mortar location if they could safely sign and share documents via “co-browsing,” or collaboration browsing. (CallVU defines co-browsing as the joint online navigation of two or more people accessing the same web page at the same time.) This method would help eliminate the need to be physically present at a branch to sign documents, simultaneously improving customer satisfaction while reserving expensive company resources for high-value tasks. Finally, researchers say that businesses will thrive in the coming years when they heed the consumer trends outlined in this research and invest in innovative customer service solutions. By doing so, these future-minded companies will advance their own digital transformation while improving the customers’ digital experience. See source information for this article on page 33


Page 31


Page 32

Texas News Round-Up 6 Months After Storm, Texas Launches Harvey Recovery Funds Tracker Texas has launched a public online tool to track incoming and outgoing funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery, six months after the storm hit and two months after The Associated Press reported that it did not have one....more Collin County Is Texas’ Stormiest Texas storms affected more Allstate insured homes in Collin County than any other part of the state over the past ten years...more Texas Stamping Office Now Accepting Online Payments; Announces Move The Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas (SLTX) announced that as of March 1 it is accepting electronic invoice payments. Payments may be made via credit card or Automated Clearing House (ACH) through the SLTX online filing system...more Despite Upgrades, Thousands of Houston Homes Still at Risk for Flooding Nearly 9,000 homes and other buildings will remain in the floodplains of four Houston-area waterways despite multimillion-dollar flood control projects….more Texas Towing Company Owner Convicted of Insurance Fraud The former owner of towing company was convicted of fraud in Houston after buying insurance coverage after a wreck and then filing a claim with the wrong date, the Texas Department of Insurance announced. ….more Some Houstonians Spend Huge Sums to Elevate Their Homes After Harvey When Marni Axelrad and her family moved to Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood in 2015, they planned to stay there for years to come. They loved the community, and their kids were going to great schools. .Despite two floods in three years, the family’s not moving. Instead, they recently paid a contractor nearly $300,000 to lift their 3,350-square-foot house six feet off the ground so they won’t have to worry about the next big storm...more Houston-Area Economy Got a Boost from Harvey State figures show the spending that came in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey generated jobs in construction, retail and other sectors, giving a surprising boost to the Houston-area economy....more PIA Federal Legislative Summit April 24-25 PIA members will converge on Washington, D.C. April 24-25 for the 2018 PIA Federal Legislative Summit (FLS). The annual PIA Federal Legislative Summit is a gathering of PIA members from around the country who come together to meet with their members of Congress and advocate their positions on issues of importance to Professional Insurance Agents...more Renewal Rates for Most C/L Rose in Feb. February data from IVANS Insurance Solutions show premium renewal rates were generally up for standard commercial insurance lines, with commercial auto rates rising 4.4% and commercial property rates increasing 3.2%. Workers’ compensation rates, however, decreased by 3.6%, IVANS said...more Do you have news to share? Email with your story. Download Latest Issue Source Materials: What Makes an CSR Champion?, page 7 “What Makes an Insurance Customer Champion?”, by Patricia L. Harman , August 22,207,

Embracing Technology to Boost Customer Engagement, page “5 Tips for Using Technology to Boost Customer Engagement”, by Terry Buechner , July 24, 2017 “CallVUStudy”, by Danielle Ling, October 18, 2017,


Page 33

AdvertiseINinTHE the Texas ADVERTISE TEXASConnection CONNECTION View our rates for the most cost effective method of keeping View our ratesin for the most cost effective method of keeping your message front of your customers…professional insurance your message in front of your customers…professional insurance agents. agents. Questions? Contact Victoria Reece at or (972) 862-3333. Questions? Contact Victoria Reece at or (972) 862-3333.

Ad Size


Pre-Pay 6 Issues

Full Page



Half Page



Third Page





Quarter Page


Page 34

Texas Connection April 2018  
Texas Connection April 2018