The test of an agency's customer service is its ability to handle demanding or difficult customers.
The best customer service should be targeted at the best (that is, the most profitable) customers. Trying to please difficult customers can be a distraction from this most important segment. Furthermore, difficult customers that are abusive to employees can undermine commitment.
In most agencies, a small fraction of customers contribute the lion's share of revenue and profit. Also, a small fraction of customers contribute the lion's share of trouble and complaints. It has been my experience that people in the first list are rarely in the second.
Great customer service is about making people happy, but the fact of the matter is that there are some people – luckily very few – who will never be happy, no matter what you or anyone else does. They take special pleasure in making sure that your costs are as high as possible. They demand premium service but refuse to pay anything more than bargain basement prices.
These are not customers. Customers are those people who contribute to your bottom line. If someone cannot sleep at night because he thinks you may have made a profit on his business, then that person is not a customer; he is a distraction. Worse, these are usually the same folks who take delight in abusing employees, which can undermine your customer service efforts by destroying employee morale and commitment.
Agencies spend far too much time trying to please people who just can't be pleased. They become distracted by the "squeaky wheels," while effectively ignoring the silent few that are responsible for driving bottom line performance. All of this they do in the name of customer service.
Instead of spending time, money, and effort on the squeaky wheels, wouldn't it be more profitable to focus on improving service to people who will appreciate it? People who will therefore buy more? People who are honestly glad to see you succeed?
World-class customer service doesn't mean you have to make everyone happy, just your true customers. It's ok to send the distractions to your competition; just do it politely.
Jack Fries has over 46 years of experience with both companies and insurance agencies. Fries & Fries Consulting is an automation, sales and management consulting firm aimed at improving agency profitability and customer service by implementing "Non-optional" procedures designed to also eliminate exposure to errors and omissions losses. In this capacity he has trained personnel in over 500 agencies.
Jack is an approved Errors and Omissions auditor for all major insurers.
Jack has authored several manuals including: Workflow Procedures Manual, Operations Manual & Employee Handbook, The CSR Manual and The Agency Business Planning Guide.
Fries & Fries Consulting
151 S. Locust Hill Drive
Lexington, KY 40517
Phone: (859) 317-9094
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