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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You must show clients how to value your superior service

Employee Benefit Adviser

By Mel Schlesinger

November 1, 2008

Last month one of my coaching clients called with a rather urgent matter. One of his clients had just given an agent of record letter to another broker. ...

My coaching client wanted to know what he could do to save the account and my answer was, "Absolutely nothing. They see you not as their benefits adviser but as a vendor of a product." ... [If] they had seen him as anything more than a vendor they would have called him before signing an agent of record letter. ...

Last month we discussed the art of asking really great questions. ... Without the use of really great questions it is impossible to deliver really great service. More importantly it is impossible to get your client to provide a meaningful analysis of the value of the service that you do provide.

Setting the stage

... So why should you expend the energy necessary to change what you are doing?

And how do you transform customer service into something that is truly great service?

To the first question, my answer is that you want to change what you are doing to accomplish two objectives. First, make your account competitor-proof. Second, generate a massive number of active referrals. Before we can answer question number two we must first define the term "truly great service." ... Great service is defined by the client.

Establish benchmarks of excellence

... The establishment of benchmarks of excellence serves two distinct objectives. First, it creates a significant amount of differentiation between you and every other agent. More importantly it creates a competitor-proof account because the client has a way to measure your effectiveness as their adviser. ... Your goal is to help the client or prospect identify exactly what is important to him in the way of services. ... Begin with a list of your services and create questions that can be answered with a simple one word response or just a yes or no. Your questions might include:

  • Is it important to work with an agent who can provide regulatory updates that impact how you manage your benefits?
  • In choosing your group agent would it be important that he visit with employees on a regular basis to answer questions?
  • Would an online human resources library be of value to you?
  • How important is it to you that your employees have a good understanding of all the benefits that you provide?
  • Can you see where a better understanding of the value of the benefits that you provide would have an impact on employee morale?
  • If I can help reduce employee turnover would that be beneficial to you?

Once you obtain a positive answer to any question immediately follow-up with a request for elaboration. It is critical that the prospect (or client) tell you how a particular service will be helpful to him. This line of questioning not only establishes important benchmarks, but also it provides that tool that eliminates the incumbent. When a prospect identifies a particular service as having value and then explains how it impacts the company you need only ask, "So what has your current broker suggested to deal with this?" ...

You close the process by asking that the client or prospect commit to a meeting every six months to review this list of expected services. By using this list at the evaluation you are providing the client a frame of reference for use in evaluating the level of service that you are providing. This will also be a great time to ask for referrals. Follow these instructions and you will never lose a client to an agent of record letter.


Schlesinger has more than 23 years of insurance industry experience, with the last decade focused on helping other insurance agents achieve success. He is a 2002 graduate of CoachU and he completed the Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach program the same year. Schlesinger runs the Certified Employee Benefit Consultant Academy, which is dedicated to teaching benefit professionals how to differentiate themselves by engaging prospects in a Compelling ConversationTM. He can be reached by telephone at 336/774-3075 or e-mail at mel@cebca.org.