It’s the start of a new decade! Now that the ball has dropped, the calendar page has been flipped, and the noisemakers have become quiet, it’s time to put the partying behind you and get serious about your plans for improvement in the new year. Whether you call them resolutions or goals, it’s important to be clear about what you want to accomplish, to set benchmarks for yourself, and to keep sight of the big picture even as you focus on the smaller steps necessary to achieve those aims.
Ralph Charles Chapa, partner at Kaufman, Payton & Chapa, has some suggestions for insurance agents looking not just to grow their business but also to provide superior coverage and excellent service to their clients.
1. Addressing Agency Policy as Regards Errors and Omissions
Errors and omissions claims can deal an enormous blow to an insurance agency. The ramifications are not just financial, although the economic impact can be devastating; these claims place a great deal of stress upon the agency’s employees. The ripple effect that often plays out can impact morale, efficiency, and overall performance.
Ralph Chapa strongly advises that you hire an independent contractor to perform an audit with regards to errors and omissions. At the very least, undertake a self-audit – but be extra vigilant about the entire process. As with any type of self-evaluation, a major pitfall to steer clear of is subjectivity.
2. Big Picture Thinking Means an Investment In Training and Education
Keeping everyone up to speed with industry advances and best-practice protocols is one of the savviest moves an agency can make, explains Ralph Chapa. Sometimes agencies, particularly smaller ones, can make the mistake of being penny wise but pound foolish, and in no area of the business is this more common than in training and continuing education. Agencies might feel they cannot afford to send employees to conferences or seminars, either because of the expense of the training itself or the loss of productivity incurred by taking them away from their quotidian duties.
However, Chapa urges agencies to remember that this truly is an investment. The results might not be immediate, but empowering your agents through rigorous continuing education will result in a more robust business across the board.
3. Take Time to Re-Evaluate and Refresh Your Metrics
How do you measure the success of your agency? How do your agents measure their own performance – and perhaps most importantly, are the two approaches aligned? The dawn of a new decade is an ideal time to review metrics and benchmarks, make sure everyone’s on the same page, and make any adjustments that may be necessary to reflect the current state of business.
One crucial measure that successful agencies should be tracking, according to Ralph Chapa, is response time. Consumer expectations regarding a response from a company or agency have skyrocketed in the past decade or two, thanks in large part to the migration of customer service channels to social media.
It wasn’t that long ago that response time was measured in hours or days; now, it’s vital to respond to queries, complaints, and requests for information in minutes – and the fewer minutes, the better. Bear in mind that even if it’s impossible to fully resolve the issue at hand in such short order, an acknowledgment of the client’s communique goes a long way toward relationship building.
Ralph C. Chapa, partner, Kaufman, Payton & Chapa, is an aggressive, experienced litigator. His practice concentrates on insurance coverage and commercial litigation, as well as professional, premises, products and general liability.