A great experience recently with AT&T got me to thinking about our business. I’ll get to that shortly.
We have had gremlins with our cell phone bill for some time and spent more time than we would like on the phone with AT&T. On our last call, the pleasant service rep started digging under the hood and then the moment of truth appeared: there could be billing issues with both our cell and home phone bills. I braced for those terrible words: “That is a different department and I can’t help you.”
The only words scarier than those are “some assembly required”.
Before I could even start whining, she calmly said: “I’m going to stay with you as long as it takes to figure this out.”
She really said it… word for word.
This was not an act of heroism on her part. AT&T and many other companies have transformed their approach to the customer experience. I’m not sure who to credit for this, but it is good news for the consumer.
So, why isn’t this happening in insurance? Whether it is carrier to broker, broker to agent, or agent to customer, hardly a day goes by when we aren’t shaking our head about a situation where defeat was yanked from the jaws of victory.
Sometimes it’s simply decades-old technology getting in the way, which itself is a clear statement of how the industry values the customer experience. But, more often it’s the finger pointing, one-on-one cat fights that leave you shaking your head wondering how any of us make a buck.
Everyone reading this knows what I’m talking about.
Here’s a stat I’ve used here before that underscores the problem: In a study conducted a couple of years ago, 80% of those with life insurance say they do not have a personal agent to turn to for help.
How can a customer have a great experience if they don’t have someone to help them?
Worse, we may be training the consumer to not expect a relationship? If so, we open ourselves to a scary future.
If you pay attention to what might be down the road, there are some pretty scary competitors named Google and Amazon (and others) allegedly eyeballing insurance. By last count Google has made 177 acquisitions, from a company that created a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to at least seven companies that specialize in robotics to a company with high-end editing software for photographers. It’s not farfetched to think Google could wave its magic Internet wand and transform our business the way it is doing to others.
For those of us in the trenches, our best defense is a great offense: making ourselves indispensible to customers.
Remember the great story about Nordstrom: an older lady brought back a set of tires and wanted a refund. The clerk listened to her story and ultimately refunded her money.
The punch line: Nordstrom doesn’t sell tires. Who knows if it’s true but it is forever part of Nordstrom lore.
At Redbird, we don’t sell tires either, but we are about delivering a great customer experience. And we plan to be around no matter who shows up to try and take business away. Hopefully you do, too.
Thanks for reading and we’ll keep waving the customer experience flag. Let me hear from you.
If selling your business is a dream, get ready for a journey
For obvious reasons this blog most often focuses on the here and now… how agents can do more to hit this year’s goals. Sell more.
But, we know there are a few of you that envision getting your business to a point that it will be your ultimate sale… to another company. A life-long friend and business partner, Gary Miller, is pounding away from his office in the foothills of the Rockies helping business owners across the country prepare their businesses for sale. If you’re a part of that small group that sees someone acquiring your baby, then you better strap in for a journey that may take more planning than you realized.
Here’s the news: it’s not just about the money to those buying your business. Professional services like insurance are a slippery slope for an acquiring company. You, the owner, are often the central cog which creates a high level of risk in the early years while the acquiring company often tries to inject additional skillsets to offset reliance on you.
More times than not Gary will talk with a business owner who thinks they are ready to make the leap when, in fact, they’ve done little to put their business in the best light for acquisition. It’s both a process and a journey.
Gary recently published a great article in the Denver Post about the role of Public Relations in mergers and acquisition. He recommends starting a PR strategy three to five years before you plan to sell. Give it a read and visit Gary’s website for more good advice. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Annuity sales rose 3 percent in 2014. LIMRA’s latest report affirmed what we see every day in the fixed annuity market. Overall, fixed annuity sales improved 13% over 2013 to $95.7 billion. Indexed annuity sales reached $48.2 billion, a 23% increase over 2013 and for the first time held more than a 50% market share of all fixed annuity sales in 2014. Immediate income annuity sales jumped 17% to $9.7 billion. For what it’s worth, variable annuity sales dropped.
- 34 ways to sell an annuity. Keeping with our theme, the article quotes a slew of industry heavyweights on what is a growing tide of interest in annuities. Redbird is focused on the defensive side of the ball: fixed annuities. Without a doubt there is need, but there is great confusion and lack of awareness with consumers. Now’s the time to change that.
- It’s all about the risk for retirement. Came across this video last year but it is still spot on and a great way to approach clients. It’s all about how much risk clients are willing to take. The math for retirement is what it is. This is a good one.