Claims are painful, and create a lot of stress in an agency. Even with ruthless followup they can often turn sour and distance the customer from a deeper relationships with the agency.
Last post we discussed three models of claims handling seen in most agencies. The third model is the unique one, and the minority choice, but it is designed to strengthen the customer relationship and create referrals.
The other two models are not bad, but they can easily degenerate into negativity. Let me demonstrate. When followup takes place the staff person he finishes the phone call with the statement, “If you have problems, call me.” The reason for this is that all of us like to be problem-solvers, and this makes us feel valuable, but this statement may not be effective. Think through the process. If you do hear from the customer again, it will not be positive. Something your company did was wrong and they want you to fix it. You become the bad guy and are seen in a negative light in the customer’s eyes, and you must work to change this impression. Even if you resolve the complaint, will this lead to further sales or referrals? You have created a black mark on yourself even if you resolved it.
Here is another option that the third model follows. When following up with the customer, rather than implanting a suggestion of problems, suggest the following: “Mr. Customer, here is the process. The adjuster will be contacting you in x days. I will check back with you to make sure the process is going smooth.” With this option you are not soliciting problem calls, but making yourself the hero. If something goes bad, you are not at fault because you set the company expectation based on what you know of their claims procedure.
To make this more effective, know your markets and how they handle claims. For example, if you know company A contacts the customer within 24 hrs, tell the customer that they will here from the company in 2 days. This sets their expectations which the company will exceed in most cases. You call back the customer on day 2 and ask how it went. In most cases, the customer will be positive. If the claim still has legs you can set their expectation on when the next step will be complete plus 1 day. You continue to contact until the claim is settled.
This may sound like a lot of work, but the phone conversations will be shorter and you can discover and eliminate any issues before they become full-blown problems. Full blown problems and customer initiated phone calls would generate much more work than these short 2-3 minute calls.
The ultimate goal is to solicit the customer for referrals at the end of the process.
How we solicit for referrals is for another day. Have you done something similar in your agency? Rather than blowing your staff’s mind with another new program, implement as a 30 day experiment.