ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

DIFFERENTIATING YOUR AGENCY FROM YOUR COMPETITORS CUSTOMER BILLS OF RIGHTS AND EXPECTATIONS

What makes you or your agency “different” from your competitors?

Agent responses differ depending who you speak with, however, the most popular answer is, “Why, we give GREAT service!”

I cringe when I hear that. First, it implies that most agents don’t give ‘good or great service.’ Do you know of any agent that thinks they give mediocre or poor service? Neither do I. In reality, if service means that process accurately and quickly and respond to customer requests, isn’t that the MINIMUM service requirement in order to be maintained as the client’s agent?

Everyone, including you and I feel that we give at least adequate service and often boast of giving “great” service without ever defining the term beyond our own egos.

The second thing that statement implies is that the purpose of the agency is related to servicing or administering the customer’s insurance accounts. Yes, that is certainly one purpose of having an agent, but is the primary purpose of your family doctor to keep your medical records up-to-date and correct? No! The primary purpose of your personal doctor is to analyze your physical condition and to get you or keep you healthy and living as strong a lifestyle as possible for as long as possible.

Similarly, the primary purpose of an insurance agent is to analyze and protect your insurable assets and to keep you safe from as many perils as can cause financial harm to you, property, your business and your family. So, if that’s the primary purpose of having an agent, what does, “We give great SERVICE” mean?

When someone asks you the obvious question, “Why should I switch from my insurance provider to YOU?” you must be able to provide an answer.

I submit to you that most agents in the U.S. have ABSOLUTELY NO Points of Differentiation that they can isolate and present to both current clients and prospective clients explaining exactly WHY the person or business should do business with the agent or his agency. There are two reasons we don’t tell our clients how different we are as agents;

1) We simply are the same as everyone else, and

2) We know we’re different but can’t define the differences.

We suggest that you begin with a Statement of Expectations that every customer should expect when dealing with your agency. Here are some topics that we’ve included in CUSTOMER BILLS OF RIGHTS for our agency clients as examples:

1. We answer all phone calls within X business hours. When you call us and we can’t get to the phone, we’ll call you back promptly. And, if you tell us what you’re calling about, we will be prepared with an answer when we call you back.

2. Our job is to protect your assets, not to “SELL” you anything. All of our clients are intelligent and understand that they need insurance to protect them and their families and businesses from risk. We will analyze your risks and give you unique solutions that will fully protect you at the lowest cost possible.

3. Our staff and agents form PERSONAL relationships. We know you as a person, not as a policy number. This means that we will always be there for you and the same quality staff will answer your questions next year as help you this year. See what happens if you try to call a mega-company and ask for the person who helped you last week...

4. Our job is to protect you! That means we will check every policy to make sure that your coverage is correct and that your price is fair compared with all of other numerous carriers and programs. While the major National recognizable insurance companies and the other direct writing insurance companies have one product to sell you, we, as independent agents, have many products from many insurance companies. Our job is to fit the right products to each of our customers, including price sensitivity.

5. We are your advocates with the insurance companies. While we can’t change an uncovered loss into a covered loss, we will ‘watch your back’ to make sure that your claims are being handled fairly. Who watches your back when the people who handle the claims and the people who are your agents are all employees of the insurance company?

Creating your own Customer Bill of Rights will give you a better understanding of the differences before you started the exercise. The creation of the Bill Of Rights is as much for the realization of your worth and the differences offered as it’s for the client. Both you and your clients need to understand your value to them in order to cement your relationships into more than a lowest price-point sale of an insurance policy.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here is Agency Consulting Group, Inc.’s Customer Bill of Rights. We are proud of our differences and want everyone to recognize us for our unique ability to serve the community of independent insurance agents and brokers in the U.S. and Canada.

CUSTOMER BILL OF RIGHTS – WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT

1. At Agency Consulting Group, Inc. we form personal, not just business, relationships with our clients. If you seek a contractor to do a specific task with no regard to your business as a whole and to your personal risks and exposures, you need to find another provider. Like a really good family doctor, we look at the whole body instead of treating just the one symptom prevalent at the time of our visit.

2. We don’t sell services or products, we provide solutions. We have never been, nor do we claim to be, the least expensive consulting provider in our industry, just the best. Our fees are not commanded by any market conditions. They are dependent on our own internal expenses with a modest profit objective. Agents who seek cheap remedies for serious problems will usually get no more results than their investment (in their time and their money).

3. We will always tell you exactly what we will do (our objective), how we will do it (the consulting activities), the target result (the goal of the consulting efforts), the cost of our services and the timeline of our activities. No surprises. Whether you subscribe to ‘handshake agreements’ or require a formal SOW (Statement of Work), we will include all of these expectations for every client.

4. When you create a relationship with Agency Consulting Group, Inc. you get EVERYTHING we have. Our 45 years of experience has exposed us to many situations and has allowed us to created dozens of systems and solutions for specific agency issues. There are no ‘up-charges’ for our products and services as long as we don’t have to expend time on your behalf. If you need a product or service that requires our time to complete, you will still get the product at no additional cost, but will be asked to sponsor our time in its creation or implementation for you.

5. Our MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE! IF you implement the changes that we recommend and don’t get at least the results that we propose, we will happily refund your money for our services (less the pure travel and any outside expenses we have incurred on your behalf). It has never happened to date, but, who knows? Of course if you don’t implement the recommendations that we make, all bets are off.