If you’re anything like me, when you started your insurance agency, you probably didn’t realize that (in the grand scheme of things), you’re actually not in the business of selling insurance, but rather in the business of marketing, and customer service.
The sale is simply the mechanism that compensates you initially, but it can’t happen without marketing first, and the income earned can’t be retained without exceptional customer service.
When I talk to insurance agency owners at conferences and in online groups, there is a common theme among them — almost all of them need help staffing their agency.
In particular, it seems that the hardest role to fill, is finding that Rockstar CSR to handle customer service, account rounding and cross selling.
Of course, we all want that producer who can step in and make it rain sales, but without a solid customer support foundation, you’re going to lose business faster than you can bring it in which negates the new premium you’re writing.
For this reason, I would personally rather be over-staffed with customer support and under-staffed with producers. People probably think I’m insane, because when I talk to agency owners it seems like the opposite is true in most situations.
There are two things to think about though — number one, great customer service is actually a great form of sales. You’re not going to get referrals without great customer service. Conversely, you will get more referrals than you ever dreamed of when you can provide an incredible, genuine, technology-driven customer experience.
What’s more, if you’re under-staffed in the customer service department, it severely hamstrings your ability to generate the new business you need to grow. You solopreneur agency owners know exactly what I’m talking about. When you’re under-staffed, you’re no longer a sales organization, you’re a customer service company.
Unless you like working 80 hour work weeks, you simply can’t market and sell when all you’re doing all day is servicing.
There are of course multiple ways to handle customer service, whether you are conditioning your customers to contact carrier’s service centers, or perhaps you’re outsourcing various things to remote employees, or companies like Marble Box for example. If you haven’t heard of Marble Box, you soon will.
At the end of the day, when it comes to an industry like insurance, as competitive as it is, and the fact that the everyday insurance consumer views personal lines (or maybe all lines) as a commodity, customer service is one of the few ways that you can truly set yourself apart from competitor agencies.
For that reason, and even though call centers exist, and outsourcing is becoming more popular, most agencies still seem to prefer having their support staff in-house.
But how do you find the right people?
Raise your hand if you dreamt as a child of growing up and binding insurance policies, rounding out households, and playing phone tag with underwriters and claims reps.
……………………..Crickets. Chirp. Chirp.
If you haven’t already figured it out, good people are extremely hard to find in this industry, and when you have an agency to run, you can’t afford to swing and miss over and over again when it comes to hiring them.
You need to find the right person, efficiently, and fast.
Sure you can post listings to various job sites for help, but the reality is, that’s a “wait-and-see” approach that you might not have time for.
By the time someone weeds through 100 other listings and finds you, it could very well be too late. And would they even be the right person anyway? Would they have any experience? Are they personable? Who knows.
Resumes can be about as misleading as cheesy car sales events.
The last thing you want is someone who’s just trying to collect a paycheck by doing the least amount of work possible. You want a dedicated Rockstar who fits in like a family member, and who doesn’t need to be baby-sat every second of the day.
Someone who is proactive, detail oriented, and above all else, reliable to you and your customers.
As Erin Nutting, fellow Advisor Evolved customer and owner of Integrity Insurance Services in Tucson said recently — “I’m looking for a customer coddler who is a beast at cross-selling and account rounding.”
If only these folks grew on trees! It doesn’t sound like it should be that hard, but it is. That person is hard to find.
Been there, done that
Trust me when I tell you, I’m no hiring genius.
There was a point in time when I thought it would be a better idea to groom someone with the right personality, even if they had no industry experience. After all, personality is one of, it not the most important attributes for a CSR to have.
They’re going to be dealing with pretty stressful situations on a regular basis.
Taking bullets for 12%+ rate increases, navigating important conversations with underwriters and claims reps, and being there when your customers need you in that moment — these are things that seem easier than they really are, especially when you’re doing them day in and day out.
The insurance industry can be down right stressful, in particular for a CSR. A good CSR needs to be like a quarterback after he throws an interception and have a short memory in those bad situations.
With that said, grooming someone with no experience is hard and time consuming. Very few agencies have someone in their agency who can sit down and spend months training someone from the ground up.
In some cases it can take close to a year or more, especially if you’re waiting for that person to get licensed.
How to find your next rockstar CSR faster
I’m no longer an agency owner, but if I was, and I was looking for a CSR, I can tell you I wouldn’t spend much time posting to job sites, sitting back waiting and hoping for the right person to fall in my lap.
It’s almost like an NBA team who is missing that one piece before gearing up for a deep playoff run — they usually don’t sign bench players. They proactively seek out the best possible player(s) to fit their team to get them to the next level, even if it means letting people from their own team go and gutting someone else’s roster.
With that in mind, that is how I would approach finding the next CSR for your agency. Is it a little bit guerrilla warfare? Sure it is, but it’s a competitive space. You think other agencies care when they take business from you? Nope.
The point is, I wouldn’t sit back and wait — I would go after them with laser targeted outreach strategies as well as paid ad campaigns and that’s exactly what I’m about to show you how to do in the video below.
In this video, I’ll show you how to use social media and an awesome outreach tool to court your next CSR. Ready? Let’s go.
How to find CSRs on LinkedIn
And here’s where you can grab the Leonard browser add-on (free until February 1st)
How to find CSRs on Facebook
As I mentioned in the video, the targeting capabilities on Facebook aren’t quite as granular as they are on LinkedIn when it comes to industry and job title. Why that is, I’m not sure. You would think with the amount of data Facebook has on everyone, the targeting would be better in that regard.
Nevertheless, you have the ability to target people who are already Customer Service reps in your local area, and if you craft your ad copy intentionally, letting them know that this is an insurance agency position, you will weed out people who aren’t interested in that position.
Is this a perfect way to do it, no, but it’s another way to target people who could be right for your business.
And here’s how to create your Facebook Pixel.
Proactive customer service is a huge deal.
It can literally make or break your agency and your ability to market yourself and get referrals. If you’re an agency owner reading this, and you’ve been struggling to find the right people for your team — don’t sit back and wait.
Go after them.