10 Tips to Improve Your Customer Service
In this article published in the January 30, 2017 issue of BenefitsPRO, Monica Majors, Sutter Health Plus vice president, strategic sales and marketing, provides tips on how brokers can best serve customers by sharing their knowledge about the market landscape.
Competition has never been fiercer in the benefits industry. That means customer service is more important than ever for those who want to stand out.
As part of our marketing and sales tips series, we asked for ways brokers can set themselves apart through superior customer service. Here are the 10 tips we liked best.
1. The next level
“Businesses need and expect more from their brokers. They are looking beyond traditional insurance and benefits administration and need expertise in all areas of human capital. Brokers who embrace this by providing insight through benchmarking data and analytics, offering set up, connection and optimization support, as well as a variety of ongoing service models will continues to gain market share of those who don’t.” Courtney Simpkiss, vice president, Broker Channel Strategy
2. Provide perspective
“I would love if someone came to me and said, ‘Here are the issues we’ve seen with other agencies like yours and here’s how we helped them save money.’” Elicia Putnam, small business owner
3. Knowledge is key
“Brokers can best serve customers by knowing the current market landscape well, speaking confidently about it and sharing that knowledge with customers.” Monica Majors, vice president, strategic sales & marketing, Sutter Health Plus
4. Come prepared
“I encourage brokers to start renewal conversations with a budget established, and then work within that budget. Why? Because traditionally, only total plan cost is mentioned upfront, and premium share isn’t discussed until after a plan is chosen. That is extremely frustrating for employers and makes choosing the right plan difficult.” Andy Nunemaker, CEO, Dynamis Software Corporation
5. Make it personal
“Personalize, don’t just customize. You can offer a long list of options to your clients, or you can shape what you offer based on the relationships you’ve built and what you know about your clients.” Bruce Hentschel, strategy development, Principal Financial Group
6. The head and the heart
Clients want your benefits IQ to be off the charts, but don’t skirt emotional intelligence. The ability to listen and empathize not only shows clients that you care, but that you have a deep understanding of what their unique needs are.
7. Listen… the right way
Stephen Covey said, “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Don’t just offer solutions, make it a point to understand why those solutions are the best for your customers.
8. Set yourself apart
“Good customer service is the backbone of your business. It distinguishes you from direct sales and aggregators. But your customer service efforts must be efficient, too. Minimize the time it takes to resolve customer issues by making small improvements to your customer service workflow and policies. Head off long, drawn-out cases by anticipating potential problems in advance and creating solutions for each. In the end, you’ll have more time for new business and to service your existing client base.” Renee Preslar, communications manager, Transamerica Employee Benefits
9. Consider the customer experience
“Customers are smarter than ever. And they’re paying more attention to the level of customer service you’re providing. That’s why marketers are so concerned with the concept of the ‘user experience’ — a buzzword that’s making everybody nervous about connecting with customers. Truth is: It’s a real game-changer when it comes to increasing sales and keeping customers loyal. An Accenture study found 90 percent of B2B execs expressed their intention to maintain or increase their spending on customer experience.” Lauren Mestig, CMO, Maestro Health
10. Be our guest
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon