Smart decisions are often difficult ones.
For independent agents, this is especially true of the decision to adopt a service center model. After all, you pride yourself on the strength of your customer relationships, your attachment to your community and your ability to apply your insurance expertise.
But adopting a service center model may be the best way you can positively impact your agency's productivity and realize a long-term growth strategy. So, what is stopping you from taking this important step?
It could be one of these many misconceptions agents hold about working with service centers. If you find yourself encountering one of these hurdles, you're not alone. And we have answers. See why partnering with a service center, like The Hanover's customer service center (CSC), is the right call.
Perception: We are an agency that prides ourselves on our customer relationships. A service center will make us feel disconnected from our clients.
Fact: Your customers value the relationship they have with you. But it's not because you answer their billing questions. In the moment when a customer has a problem or need to make a change, they just want it done easily and correctly - no matter if they work directly with you or someone else.
Your customers trust you because of the more consultative and proactive professional advice you offer, and your goal should be to continue to amplify that value in your customer relationships. That's where your service center partners, like the Hanover CSC, come in. These centers increase the capacity of your office, by acting as an extension of it. In addition, really strong service centers also augment your existing sales and retention programs.
For instance, when you partner with The Hanover's CSC, you can access exclusive services including inbound sales support, and loyalty-building customer outreach programs. The extra capacity your agency gains gives your staff much more time to focus on activities that truly deepen relationships and generate growth, such as proactive renewal reviews with clients, regular check-ins with customers, claims outreach, and new business prospecting.
Lastly, the best service centers, like The Hanover's, continually invest in technology to give you transparency into the interactions they have with your customers, allowing you to remain fully informed on calls and resolutions.
Perception: My staff won’t buy into working with a service center.
Fact: You value your team and their expertise, and your team takes pride in their knowledge and credentials as a licensed professional. By giving them the opportunity to tackle the proactive activities that solidify retention and generate revenue, rather than spending the day putting out fires and handling standard service requests, you give them the chance to grow their skills and become even more integral to the success of your agency. Your employees will embrace the opportunity to evolve and flourish.
Perception: We're a small shop. A service center is not something we can afford.
Fact: Can you afford NOT to do this? Look at it this way: if you are a staff of three, and one person is out, for whatever reason, you've lost 33% of your productivity. That call that goes unreturned or the issue that remains unaddressed could mean a customer that ends up going elsewhere.
Or worse, you lose a staff member. If you calculate the amount you invest in a service center vs. what you pay for an employee's salary, plus benefits, you'll typically find this is well worth the investment. And that's not even factoring in the time it takes to find and onboard a replacement.
As a small shop, you need to be focused on growing your business, not handling address changes and billing questions. Service centers enable you to meet evolving customer expectations (like weekend or evening hours) while providing a seamless experience, all while giving your agency time to prospect and build up your presence in your community. Plus, any employee vacancy you experience is now an opportunity to focus on hiring sales talent instead.
Perception: Our clients always call me. They're not going to want to talk to a service center.
Fact: The best service centers create a seamless solution for customers by ensuring their representative has the knowledge of the account necessary to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. So, while your customer appreciates talking to you, their primary goal in the moment is typically to get their problem or change resolved quickly and easily. You can encourage your customers to take full advantage of their extended service team and benefits like longer hours for basic updates, and then reach out to you for more advanced questions or advising.
And, in the case of The Hanover, options also exist for your agency to maintain a personal touch, enabling you to answer the phone, and transferring the call to "your Hanover team" for Hanover-specific questions.
Perception: I am concerned about errors a service center might make.
Fact: High-quality carrier service centers, like the Hanover CSC, record calls for quality assurance and take on the E&O exposure on any transactions they handle. The Hanover CSC also does weekly coaching with all our teams to create a elevated level of service excellence.
Perception: If a customer wants to change carriers, I won't know about it and won't have a chance to work with the customer.
Fact: The best service centers provide constant transparency into its interactions with your customers, and works to keep those customers at your agency.
The Hanover CSC, for example, has a full team focused on retention, that reviews client policies, deductibles and potential discounts, in the event they are unhappy with their current coverage. And if the customer is still dissatisfied, we send them back to you to explore more options. While we'll attempt to keep the customer with The Hanover, we know it's most important that they stay with your agency.
In addition, your agency also benefits from proactive retention measures. The Hanover CSC has specific retention programs that target your customers most vulnerable to leaving to go direct and proactively reaches out to them on your behalf.
Perception: I’ll need to fire and/or replace my existing service staff.
Fact: Based on your vision for your agency, you have much better options. If you want to leverage your service staff for service, the work we do will enable them to focus on developing and providing more high-value service. This means no more billing calls or standard vehicle changes, but instead, proactive renewal calls or check-ins throughout the year, with more in-depth consultative conversations. This can be more rewarding for your service staff and builds deeper customer relationships.
And if you’re looking to transition your staff to a sales-focus, your service team, with their earned knowledge of carrier and policy options, can make great sales talent. Modern sales is all about relationship-building and consultation to help educate a customer and allow them to reach an educated decision on their own. Your service team already has that trust established with your customer base.
Perception: Now is just not the right time.
Fact: There never really seems to be a "right time" to make a major decision, is there? Especially one that could have the operational impact as a service center can. The fact is, a service center is becoming less of a luxury for independent agencies, and more of a lifeline.This is not a decision to put off until until your staff is overwhelmed, or you lose your best employee due to workload issues or dissatisfaction. While this can be a shift in culture and mindset for the whole office, in the end, partnering with a service center allows you to provide the best customer service to your clients, and get the most out of your staff.
Adopting a service center model can feel like a major decision. But it can also be a major game-changer for your agency's growth and efficiency. The best place to start is with a carrier partner you trust. The Hanover CSC is here to help you drive success for your agency.
Learn more about The Hanover's CSC Request a consultation