Where's the Beef?

Where’s The Beef?

Some of you may remember the 1980’s Wendy’s TV commercial where the old lady looks at a competitor’s hamburger and, after seeing very little meat on the bun, decries “Where’s the beef?”

As I think about the changes that have occurred in the insurance agency system over the past decade, I keep coming up the same analogy, “Where’s the beef?” Meaning: “Where’s the customer service the client pays for?”

The last few years I have had the distinct pleasure of calling dozens, if not hundreds, of insurance agents to discuss ways that we can help them with their agent licensing and continuing education training. Most of the time we get an immediate voice mail with a pleasant voice that encourages me to “click on 1 to speak with Bob, click on 2 to speak to Jane or if this is a claim, please hang up and call 1-800-biteme.” Ok, ok, they do not say bite me, but the point is the same: they do not want to take a claim call over the phone as it’s much easier to dump the customer straight into the claims office. In most cases, the agent does not even want to talk to the customer because if I click on ‘1 - to talk to Bob,’ I invariably go to his voice mail, and may or may not even get a call back.

Is this the kind of service that our paying customers deserve?

Insurance is designed for one purpose only - and that is to pay for a loss should one occur. Why is it that our most basic insurance need, reporting a claim, is not even discussed with the insurance agent?

I hear from agents all the time saying, “my company does not want me to get involved in a claim.” Taking information over the phone and then reporting it to the claims office is not a difficult task and it clearly shows our customers that we care about them.

In addition, a customer who has a claim is already stressed and they are contacting the one person, or agency, who can help deal with it and perhaps provide some relief. The agent should have a list of service companies that can provide immediate help while the claim is being processed.

I recently had the misfortune to speak with a computer regarding an issue with my internet service. The list of topics that the computer mentioned did not cover the issue that I had, so I said, “customer service,” and repeated it over and over. Finally, the computer said, “if you do not tell me what you need, I cannot continue this call” and about 5 seconds later hung up on me. I am now in the process of changing my internet service provider.

I say this because we seem to be living in a world where superior service is talked about all the time but seldom fulfilled. A company that can match their talk with actions will get my business. How about you?

What can an agent do to provide superior service to their clients? What does superior service mean in the insurance business anyway? What resources should an agent need to provide to reach a level of superior service in the insurance industry?

I would like to hear your thoughts. Please respond to this blog or send an email to dbennett@itaamerica.com.

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