Having met with my fair share of insurance agents I am impressed with the level of professionalism they display. There are a few of characteristics I have come across, however, that seem to creep their way into a handful of agencies.
Although generally not the norm, the following issues are quite simple to correct. Do you agree?
#1 – The Hoarder
If the manila envelope is your best friend then make sure he and his buddies aren’t scattered across your desk.
To be fair, some of the best minds paid little attention to the arrangement of their workspace. Some studies show that messy desks do promote creativity and the breaking free of tradition
and norms. Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Alexander Fleming were notoriously messy.
But insurance agents are not spearheading the Manhattan Project or reinventing portable music. They are managing risk – and organization is paramount.
Some studies show that even slight disorder encourages poor discipline and carelessness. Chaos begets chaos.
Prospects sitting adjacent to a pigsty for a consultation may assume that their policies would join the stack of files in disarray and become easily lost or confused with others. The first mix up or hitch with a claim, either by the carrier or agent, will always be a result of the arrangement of the desk, at least in the mind of the customer.
#2 – The 90’s Website Guy/Gal
According to a 2014 report by the Hinge Research Institute 81 percent of buyers referred to an insurance agency ultimately judge a business based on an examination of its website.
If you still have a web site counter resting at the bottom of your website then you may be a little out of touch with technology. Unfortunately many insurance agencies haven’t touched their source code since Taxi debuted on ABC.
If you are not digitally gifted you can still make your prospects and customers think you are.
There are tools available now that make it very easy to build a solid website. Check out a recent comparison of some of the most popular options out there.
Keep it simple, keep it relevant, and keep it updated. Insurance agents might not have the budget to host multimillion dollar websites – but you do have the edge of building personal relationships. The website should convey this message.
Include a list of the services you offer, contact information, your mission statement and testimonials. Just make sure it is modern. Online quoting is an option if your business strategy includes acquiring online leads.
#3 – Mr./Ms. AOL
Recent studies show that most people communicate digitally (text, email, social media) just as much as they do face-to-face. Crazy, huh?
Similar to having an up-to-date website, your email address should be professional. You use it all the time to communicate with your clients after all.
I wish I had a quarter for every @aol.com or @cox.com email address I’ve seen from agents. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it is easier than ever to set up a professional email address that includes your agency domain name.
You will need to print new business cards. But it is worth it.
#4 – The Potty Mouth
You would think this one would go without saying. It is about portraying a level of professionalism. Yet some agents casually let out the occasional #$%! when dealing with customers.
The belief is that after feeling out a client the agent will feel out and reciprocate a relaxed atmosphere. As to make them feel comfortable.
But if they are dropping the f-bomb that doesn’t give you the green light. Profanity parallels unprofessionalism. Your clients want to feel secure that you are going to be taken seriously when dealing with their policies and potential claims.
It is funny how small things like that resonate with people, if not only subconsciously.
#5 – The Teenage Girl
Okay, that description isn’t fair. We all text. But I have witnessed agents typing up an SMS with me in their office.
Keep the use of cellphones at a minimum when interacting with clients. Even if you excuse yourself they will notice.
It is easy to rationalize it as a way to multitask and increase efficiency. Perhaps you are trying to show that you are always on top of issues that arise.
But it is important to provide good ‘ol undivided attention. It will go a long way to building respect for the relationship.
#6 – The Candy Monster
I wouldn’t bring this one up if it didn’t happen to me. Sitting adjacent to an agent presenting me a quote for home insurance he pulled out a gigantic candy bar and started munching on it.
This wasn’t just any candy bar. It was the king size variant that is actually just two regular bars in one wrapper. No excuses, no shame, just a mouthful of chocolate and creamy nougat.
There really isn’t much to say here except pay attention to detail. The fact that a sugary treat took priority over my needs… well, he didn’t get my business.
#7 – Mr./Ms. Unkempt
I have had meetings with people whose nose hairs tickle their upper lip. That have breath that waters my eyes. And unkempt hair reminiscent of a postadolescent Teen Wolf.
If you have pit stains or nails so dirty you can plant seeds on them there is a big problem here. Of course most agents are not guilty, and if so, not to this extreme.
The point is I am counting on my agent to help me manage my risk. That being said, if they forget to comb their hair they might forget to cross the t’s and dot the i’s on my policy.
#8 – The Reassurer
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone when they pause subtly and interject “to be honest with you”? I have. And every time I think …does this mean you weren’t being honest with me before?
It goes without saying that honesty is important when building relationships. For agents, building the notion of being trustworthy is just as important. Perception is reality when dealing with prospects.
Always saying something that makes them feel like you trying to win their trust is discomforting. Be candid, but don’t tell them that you are doing so. If you have an honest practice they will “feel” it and your reputation will speak for itself.