The part of purchasing insurance that many dislike is the lack of receiving a tangible product at the point of sale. It can feel to some as if their money is being spent year after year for nothing, especially when they do not have any losses. Filing a claim, however, is when your clients finally experience the importance of their investment as they put their insurance to use. It’s essential during this process that your agency has a plan in place to maximize the customer experience during a difficult situation. Having a clear claims process will also serve to deepen your client relationships and widen your agency fanbase as you follow through on delivering on your promise to protect the things your clients love most.
Directing Clients Immediately to the Carrier?
We are all looking to save time and improve efficiencies. But pushing your clients to ONLY connect directly with carriers during a claims process misses a valuable opportunity to continue to build rapport as you coach them through the claims process. Cutting yourself out of the experience will cause you to miss connecting to empathize, offer assistance, build your relationship, and deepen customer loyalty. You will even miss referral opportunities that are gained when a claim is handled well. Ideally, follow a blended strategy of helping your clients through the process while passing them to the carrier. If they’ve already connected directly with the carrier before you are aware of the situation, there is still plenty of opportunity to deliver value.
Maximize the Customer Experience with Communication
Since ID cards have a claims number leading people directly to the carrier, it’s important when we are notified of a claim, whether through daily download, email, or phone call, that we take action when our clients need us most. Use a combination of an automated and personalized approach for all claim experiences, whether personal or commercial.
- Call the client personally to find out what happened and how they are doing
- Ask if they need any immediate services such as towing, housing, rental cars, etc.
- Manage their expectations of next steps and give them a timeline
- Ask them to contact you if they do not hear from their adjustor within 48 hours
- Send them a handwritten note that you are thinking about them and direct them to your agency’s recommended vendors
- Call the client 5 days into the claim to make sure they have been in touch with their adjustor
Automate a series of emails to the client so they know you are thinking about them
- “Sorry to hear about your claim”
- “Have you heard from your adjustor?”
- “Here are our recommended vendors”
- Provide a claims survey 30 days after the claim on your performance, recommended vendor performance, and carrier performance
- After the completion of a successful claims process, ask the client to leave online reviews on Yelp, Google, and other websites
Important Tools Every Agency Should Have to Succeed at Claims
Whether it’s individual claims or a mass disaster claims event, having methods to simplify communication will help to minimize client frustrations. They will also protect your employees from being overwhelmed when many claims are being handled at once. Some important tools to invest in are:
- An email marketing platform to individually email clients in a claims status or mass email clients in the event of a larger scale regional disaster
- Prepared email templates written and ready to go
- A Mobile Marketing App to communicate to clients who have downloaded it — see www.insuranceagentapp.com
- Active Social Media Channels to post community wide communications if needed
- A Preferred Vendor List that is ready to serve your clients
- Home Inventories — Clients can create and update home inventories in minutes with mobile apps
- Lists of claims numbers for all of your carriers
- Survey software such as www.surveymonkey.com to poll your clients on the entirety of the claims process
These tools are great for all types of claims, from individual claims to mass catastrophes. If there is a regional disaster in your area, clients will not want to wait for your agency to get organized. Let’s plan in advance for what we know can happen in advance, and be prepared to execute a winning strategy for our clients.
Social Media: Will It Help You or Hurt You?
We all post everything on social media almost instantaneously. When it comes to accidents and claims, the same is true. Not only will people see pictures of the loss, they will all comment, ask how your insured is doing, and if they need any help. Your client will also be responding to a community of hundreds or potentially thousands of people about how the process of getting help and processing their claim is going. This means everything you and your agency do or don’t do will be talked about on Facebook, Instagram, and in texts and tweets! With the right claims process in place, you can be a positive part of the conversation with great word-of-mouth spreading fast! If things are going smoothly, your clients may praise you. If things are not on track, what will blow up on social media? I’ve heard it said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Claims are stressful, frustrating, and they disrupt our lives. As their agent, you need to be your client’s hero who comes to the rescue with a well executed process. This can help direct the conversation on social media in a positive direction about your agency during a difficult time.
When a Claim Goes Wrong
When a claim is handled poorly or the customer perceives it was handled inappropriately, take charge of the situation and reach out to your client. As they say, perception is reality, and, right or wrong, your client’s reality is that they were not cared for properly. Remember to empathize with them and work hard to remedy the problem as much as possible. Managing the situation with a high level of attention and concern can help to potentially diffuse damaging word-of-mouth to friends and family or even bad online reviews.
When a Claim Is Handled Right
When a claim is handled with excellence and you have a satisfied client, it’s time to make the most of your victory. Ask the client to recommend you, refer you, and post about their experience on social media. You might even create a case study and use them in your next marketing campaign. Don’t merely find satisfaction in a job well done; celebrate publicly and spread the word!
We recommend you do the following:
- Thank your client for working together through the process and for sharing their satisfaction with you
- Ask them to leave a review on Facebook, Yelp, and Google
- Gather any photos they may have taken
- Create a case study
- Have them visit to talk to your staff about the impact your agency has made
- Share your referral program with your client
- Ask for their permission to use their story in an upcoming marketing campaign
While claims can be a challenging part of customer service in an agency, you can win at claims with the right plan! Remember, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Incorporate these strategies into your plan to ensure you have a streamlined customer claims experience in your agency — one that takes great care of your clients and also generates new opportunities for you!