We are in a service business, and communication is always vital. During the current COVID-19 crisis, communication is critical for retaining the trust, loyalty, and business of your customers.
In so many ways over the years, the insurance industry has responded well in times of crisis. We do our best to reassure and restore people’s homes, businesses, and lives. So, here we find ourselves in the most significant service challenge in decades as we help our customers with the health and economic consequences of COVID-19. The backbone of the American insurance agency system is you: The local independent insurance agent. You and your staff know and support your community, your customers, and their needs.
Let’s look at seven ways we can help serve our customers, especially during trying times. I am sure many of you are already doing some of these. When times get tough, the fundamentals always apply. They can help us get through to whatever the new normal will be. Consider incorporating these into your daily agency operations:
Have a plan and stay calm.
Stay optimistic while planning for the worst-case scenario. Simply stated, “You get what you give.” Being confident and in control will reassure and help keep your customers and staff calm. People are anxious now. Draw from your knowledge and experience to consider all options and be open to adjusting plans as the situation evolves. Stay relevant to your staff and customers. Remember, a little empathy goes a long way these days.
Don’t make your customers search for necessary information.
Revise your website as needed to be a central point where they can find the links, phone numbers, and emails they need to get in contact with you and your carriers. Include local, state, and federal government links that are helpful for the Small Business Administration, Dept of Labor, Chamber of Commerce, DMV, etc.
Empower and support your staff as they work remotely.
Delegate decision making as much as possible. Meet needs for IT help, morning and/or afternoon chat sessions to round table challenges, obtaining necessary office supplies, managing the mail and bank deposits, etc. Plan your work as best as possible. Be open to ideas from your staff members and co-workers and make changes on the fly as necessary. Talk to each other!
Revise your current marketing strategy.
Whatever it was, it is now irrelevant. Revise your advertising, email marketing, social media content to focus on service and support. Retain your customer’s trust and business. Sales will return on the other side of the current crisis. Emphasize your availability and accessibility to help with questions, coverage, billing, and claims.
Continue to focus on the customers you already have.
New business is always essential. However, now is the time to service existing customers; they need you now more than ever. Some are experiencing physical and or mental health challenges, financial difficulties. Customers need your assistance with billing and claim questions.
Share what your business is doing to help locally.
People, including your customers, want to be inspired and feel like things are improving. Consider supporting local charities and organizations to help those hit hardest by the COVID-19 economy. Whatever you can do is helpful and makes a difference in someone’s life. Giving what you can help to focus on the good news of people helping those in need. It’s the right thing to do right now.
Lead by example, and inspire others.
Our industry’s role in every crisis is the same. Each of us will respond to the best of our ability. We must use our knowledge, experience, and resources to meet the needs of our community and our customers to assist them back to a better place in their lives. We have work to do.
Be Well and Stay Safe!
Statewide Underwriting Services