This article was created after reading “Driven by Distraction – How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive Workers” from the March 2010 WIRED Magazine. I would encourage you to read the entire article.
My prospects and clients often tell me that they want everyone in their agency to do things the same way. That is what they expect me to accomplish when they engage my services. Well, what exactly does that mean? Do they want a bunch of robots that can’t think for themselves? It is very important that an insurance agency has standards, procedures and workflows and that everyone follow them. But these defined standards, procedures and workflows address processes. What about thinking, negotiating, customer service, marketing and a host of other situations that arise everyday?
What happens if you have hired robots and they can’t think on their feet, so to say? Is there one standard answer when one of your clients has an issue with an insurance carrier? Is there only one way to negotiate the terms and pricing on an account. Are all of your clients the same which makes it easy to know what your staff is going to say to them in every situation? I fear if the answer to any of these questions is yes, that your agency has become one of those direct writers that advertise on TV.
The article in WIRED Magazine really got me to thinking about this. I often have my best ideas or find the solution to a problem at times when I am not immersed in work. Haven’t you had a great idea in the shower, with no place to write it down? And sometimes you forget the idea before you can get to something to capture your thoughts. So apply this to your staff. Where to they get their relief to have creative time. It might not be via Twitter of Facebook as suggested in the article, but there are other outlets. I always encourage agencies to look at business models outside the insurance industry. In many other industries firms employ a number of tools which incorporate the work life and other activities into the work day.
I recently saw a piece on TV about a firm that adopted a school in their area. Members of the firm became volunteer tutors at the school. While the students at the school benefited greatly, the staff members of the firm said they were the ones that had benefited more. I know a few insurance agencies that have competitions with prizes. Think Wii bowling, trivia and other fun games. I have always found that fun and laughter are great for the creative juices.
I know some of you are sitting there thinking so what is creative about the insurance business. Think about these ideas:
- Putting together the best coverages for a difficult risk usually takes some creative thinking. These might include, what markets do I need outside current markets, would the client take more of the risk and how do I convince them of the benefits of that. As a broker in the surplus lines market for 25 years, I had to be creative many days.
- Negotiating terms and pricing on accounts. It is important that all of the facts, the good, bad and ugly about an account be divulged to the insurance carriers. However, does your staff know how to put this information in its best light and negotiate effectively. I do not mean the squeaky wheel or high pressure approach here. I don’t believe that works in the long term for you or your client.
- Your client has just had a serious loss. While it is properly covered there is still lots to deal with. Will a standard, predetermined answer or process necessarily address the issues. You and your staff may need to roll-up-their sleeves and be prepared to help your client deal with the details of getting all the information needed by the adjuster and wading through the paperwork, emails, phone calls. Remember you told your prospect that you are their trusted partner. Now is time to deliver.
- Marketing must be approached with a creative mind. In today’s world there are more marketing outlets and ideas than ever before. You will be stuck in the old mold if you don’t get your creative juices and ideas rolling on this.
These are just a few examples of where creative thinking is needed in the ever day operations of an insurance agency. Solutions and ideas come at the most unexpected times. Don’t suppress the creativity of your staff. Because yes there should be creativity in an insurance agency. Would you please share with us the tools you use to help your staff think and act creatively?