Recently, we have been receiving requests to train insurance teams on polishing up their phone skills. With the advent of recorded phone calls and many more agencies actively listening to the recorded calls you can hear things that make you go “Hmmmmm???”. It today’s more modern world of emojis, texts and emails many insurance team members may have missed out on training to help polish up their customer service skills. While a more casual approach may be OK to certain people, as a professional organization we want to make sure your people never get to the grey area of phone skills.
We came together to create our top 10 phone skill faux pas list that you can share with your team to make sure we all remember to keep it professional during work hours. Remember, words and tone matter. Due to the fact that so much communication happens over the phone, we need to all train ourselves to select our words carefully.
In all honestly I struggle with this one personally. It comes flying out of my mouth and I instantly want to suck it right back in. Yeah? The proper word is a full “yes”. If you need a filler word so you think people are listening and you throw out the random “yeah”, stop right now because most of us would rather not hear it!
#9: No Problem
“Yeah man no problem”. We are not in Jamaica and why are we talking about problems? “No problem” is two negative words smooshed together. By saying it we imply there could have been a problem? Let’s instead say “I’m on it” or “My pleasure”.
#8: My Internet, Phone, Website, Computer are all so slow
Nothing drives me more bonkers than this one. When I am the customer, I do not want to hear about YOUR problems. It makes me think I’m doing business with a less than adequate company. If your technology is a little slow, connect with the client and build rapport. Never ever discuss any delays or weaknesses of the company with client.
#7: Email Vs. Phone Call
I know for several agencies we are on the pursuit with to communicate with the client the way they would like to be communicated with. Love it, support it and think we have to do it. But we also have to know when to pick up the phone. Just because it’s not the preferred method of communication doesn’t mean we can’t use the phone. I prefer my doctor to text me appointment reminders but if they have something to discuss with me, I’d like a call. Too much becomes lost when we chat, text or email. We need to understand when to pick up the phone and have that good old fashion conversation. We all too often see that people would rather explain bad news in email. You just added gasoline to a fire. Pick up the phone!
I can’t stand “thanks”. It’s “thank you” a sincere thank you. “Thanks” to me is condescending. Like you didn’t have the time to actually say or spell out “thank you”. In a time when gratitude is so critical for retention we need to identify that “thanks” is not enough. “Thank you” may be marginal but stopping and really showing sincere, authentic gratitude is what we should be doing.
#5 I’ll Get Back To You
By nature this is a fine comment but it’s missing a second half making it an absolute disaster. “I’ll get back to you by…. “is 100% better. “I’ll get back to you” means nothing. When? How? Who? I’m panicking just adding you to my list of follow ups I’ll have to do. Set the client’s expectations so that you can have the right space and time to get the job done.
#4 Well, We Are Short Staffed Today
Ohh great, well I’m sorry I needed help today. I’ll call back tomorrow when you aren’t put out by my call. You are never short staffed and you are always eager to help. If you are feeling a time crunch ask the person when they need it by so you can triage your work accordingly.
#3 Delivering Difficult News without Options
Here is the thing. In insurance we don’t always have the best news. Rate increase and uncovered claims happen and, well, people do some silly things. However, every piece of difficult news should be delivered with options. Even if one of the options is unimaginable, it’s still an option and shows people the range of what they can expect. With options people feel like they have some power over the situation. Never underestimate the power of choice.
#2 I’m Sorry
What exactly are you sorry for? If you made a mistake you should 100% apologize. If you are delivering difficult news there is nothing to be sorry about. Instead how about letting the client know you are grateful for their patience, loyalty, understanding. “I’m sorry” means you are guilty and in many situations all it means is let me get you off the phone.
#1 Can I
“Can you…?” Of course you can, what you really mean to say is “May I?” “May I make a recommendation?” “May I send you this for electronic signature?” “May I ask for your license number?” “Can” is the wrong word; “May” is the appropriate word.
After writing this blog I feel a bit like Miss Manners but words do matter. Every person in insurance from a processor, intern, receptionist aka Director of First Impressions to a million dollar producer needs to become a forever student to master how little words make a big difference!