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Episode 16 – Staffing

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Episode 15 – Underwriting

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The Great Independent Podcast Episode 14 – Travelers Insurance App

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The Great Independent Podcast Episode 13 – Travelers Insurance Industry Trends

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How to Deal With Poor Online Reviews

Recently, one of our independent agents reached out to our alliance about a poor review his insurance agency received on Facebook. He was curious as to how to handle the negative comment that was in plain sight for the world, and his potential clients to see. This particular agent takes a lot of pride in his online presence and wanted to make sure he did the right thing by his agency and more importantly, the upset client.

 

When this happens to your business (and it will), there are quite a few ways to handle these situations, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you do:

 

  1. Don’t Fret

Let’s face it, at some point, we’re all going to get some criticism from one angle or another. Your agency can’t please everyone and that one person you can’t help is going to be the one that gets upset enough to tell the world about it. Unfortunately, in today’s society, it’s part of the new digital age where every little comment is visible to everyone.

Be prepared, stay calm and respond with care.

 

image of the words problems and solutions

 

  1. Have a Plan

When setting up your insurance agency’s presence online, you should go beyond simply inputting your information to be relevant in the digital realm. Create branding guidelines and a “brand voice” that keeps your messaging consistent.

Your agency should have procedures in place for when something bad (or good) happens. This could be for in-person “reviews” or the online variety. Know how you want to respond and what you’re going to say.

 

  1. Be Consistent

Make sure you carry out your plan consistently and everyone in your company is trained on how to handle these situations. These procedures are most likely going to be in-line with how you already view customer service.

Consistently respond to negative (and positive) comments with similar messaging to let everyone know you are aware of them and resolve issues.

 

image of consistency is key

 

  1. Create a Response that Reflects Your Voice

Don’t respond in a way that isn’t true to how you run your business. Don’t feel as though you have to go out of your way to be someone you aren’t.

If you feel a more direct approach is necessary, feel free to craft a response that more directly reflects the issue and message at hand. If you think that staying very generic solves the problem, that’s fine, too. Say you’re sorry and that your agency usually handles the issue more efficiently.  Maybe even a mix between the both.

It’s your business and you should be able to answer negative criticism as you see fit. Just remember, anyone and everyone can see them!

Get some tips on how to respond to negative reviews from this article that Review Trackers put out. https://www.reviewtrackers.com/respond-negative-reviews/

 

  1. Use Great Customer Service

Don’t forget what business you’re in. Your agency’s purpose is to help people through customer service. Use best practices when responding to these comments.

Online comments should be treated with the same urgency and care as if it were presented to you in person.

 

  1. Don’t Ignore the Post

The worst thing you can do when someone makes a complaint is to ignore the post, or even worse, delete it.

No matter how long the comment has been up, someone has seen it and is most likely waiting to see what your response is. If someone sees that you have deleted the comment, it’s going to tell them that you only care about the positives and that you don’t want to deal with the negatives. Not a good look!

Be sure to respond to the review with your prepared procedure, and do it in a timely manner. This is relative to your practices – if you only get online once a week, that’s a perfectly acceptable response time. If you get online every day, you should respond within a day.

 

  1. Follow Through

Answering a negative review is a great first step, but don’t stop there!

Go the extra mile and make sure that someone from your office fixes the actual problem, offline. Call or message the upset client and do what you can to fix the issue.

It’s possible to ask the previously upset client to update their comment after you have resolved the issue.

This particular customer could be (probably will be) the one person that spreads a negative word about your agency that has a lasting impact on the success of your business.

 

  1. Learn from the Criticism

Want to take it a step further? Take the negative criticism and put policies into place for your business to not run into the issue again.

No one is perfect and people know that. Keep an open mind when reading the review and don’t take it personal. This is an opportunity to improve your business, no matter how trivial the issue at hand may be.

 

 

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Episode 7 – Cold Calling

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Small Changes Big Impact – ITC Guest Blog

How Small Changes to Your Website Can Have a Big Impact

As the largest provider of insurance agency websites in the country, we talk to a lot of agents about their websites. Agents know the importance of updating their website. So what is the most common reason that prevents them from accomplishing this critical task? A lack of time.

There is a popular misconception that you need to spend a whole day working on your website. While you could, it’s not necessary. Spending an hour a week or a few hours a month can have a big impact on the success of your website.

Your website needs attention and care for you to get the value out of it. It just doesn’t have to take a lot of time for you to see the benefit.

Survey Says…

If you’re still skeptical, let’s look at what consumers have to say about small business websites.

Vistaprint Digital recently surveyed U.S. adults about their visits to the websites of small businesses.

First, some inspiration. More than 40 percent of those surveyed visited a small businesses website. That’s great news for Main Street America. It also shows that your website is essential.

So, what do people want from your website? What can you improve in an hour a week?

Sometimes it’s the obvious answer.

 

Contact Information

You can spend a lot of time on the design of your website. Or working on your mobile presence. Or optimizing your website for search engines. But, sometimes people just want to contact you.

Almost 50 percent of respondents said outdated contact information leaves a bad impression.

 

graph of the importance of keeping updated contact information

 

 

Our agents can update their contact information in five minutes using the Insurance Website Builder administration console. If you’ve moved or got a new phone number or added a new location, don’t wait to add that information to your website. Do it as soon as you can!

If you work in a home office, add something to your agency website to give visitors direction. It can be a city/state combination or a mailing address.

 

Content

Another question from the survey: “What’s most important when it comes to having a positive experience with a small business website?”

 

graph of importance of accurate content on a website

 

Notice how the other responses don’t even come close to having solid, timely content?

Don’t assume updating your content needs to take a lot of time. (Those other responses to this questions? Those are the time-consuming tasks.)

Many of the pages on your website just need a change to a paragraph or a few sentences to keep them up to date. You can accomplish this in 30-45 minutes. If you did two pages a week, you’ve updated eight pages in a month!

This is why it’s important you have the ability to make changes to your website content. So you can do it quickly on your own without having to get a developer involved. Our agents can change any page of their website from our administration console.

 

Recently Updated

When do consumers consider a website outdated? Take a look at this graph:

 

graph of how long one has to update information on a website

 

Most people will give you six months. That’s a long time.

This shows that you can maintain your website on one hour a week or a few hours a month. It’s also confirmation that you need to update your website or you’re leaving a bad impression.

 

Shopping

So what’s the impact if your website leave a bad impression? How likely is a consumer to buy from you if they think your website is poorly designed or unprofessional?

 

graph of the likelihood of someone making a purchase/transaction on a website when information is outdated

 

Sixty percent said they would be not very likely or not at all likely to buy from you.

This definitely includes out-of-date websites or those without contact information. You can see how important it is to do regular maintenance on your website.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time. One hour a week or a few hours a month can make the difference. It doesn’t have to be a whole day. Just make sure you’re maintaining your website.

 

Did You Know?

ITC has a direct relationship with Pacific Crest to help you start and manage your website. Check out this document with more information.

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Safeco Marketing Symposium Recap

Safeco Insurance goes out of their way to help their independent partners grow their agencies. One way they do this is by providing marketing symposiums on a regular basis. Last week, I had the privilege of attending one such event, here in Boise. My hopes were to strengthen my knowledge of marketing an insurance agency and to connect with local independent agents. If I could get a better understanding of marketing activities they are using to grow their agency, it would ultimately help the alliance and our agents.

 

If you haven’t had the chance to attend one of these symposiums, I highly suggest it. Whether you feel well versed in marketing your agency or if you think your agency could use a spark, the brainstorming sessions and networking are priceless.

 

To give you an idea of the format, I’ll give you a brief oversight of how Safeco split up the day.

 

We were warmly greeted by Safeco’s Gabe Gonzalez, the Marketing Director for the Northwest region. Gabe walked us through a bit of history that the independent insurance world has seen over the last 15 years and what the industry is experiencing today. This included some challenges and potential competitors in the market. These include the new digital-based insurance apps that boast about getting away from what insurance agents would call “must-haves” for the client. You may have seen some related posts on our blog or social channels. Interesting discussions took place about the potential problems the industry and what the client would face with some of these new “solutions.”

 

From there the room listened to a presentation from Wood River Insurance on a marketing tactic they picked up from a previous Safeco marketing event. In the past five months of using this tactic, they’ve seen their new business numbers double. An amazing feat for any agency.

 

Gabe and his team took us all through some exercises to showcase a couple other techniques and activities that any agency could do easily, which led us to a break out session.

 

image of a brain with a puzzle piece inside it

 

In several groups, we all took part in sharing a marketing activity that we had recently started or were looking to in the near future. There were some great ideas surrounding community-related events and hiring techniques as many agents found it hard to get the younger generation interested in pursuing a career in the insurance business.

 

There is where I shared our new podcast, The Great Independent powered by Pacific Crest, and hopefully inspired some agents to do even more with their marketing practices. It’s my hope that not only our agents at Pacific Crest, but other independents take their passion to the next level.

 

The Great Independent Podcast Logo Microphone with orange hair behind mountains

 

Lastly, our break-out groups had to come up with an event that would encapsulate others from our community and gain traction beyond the event itself. There were some great ideas that tied in organizations from the local police and fire departments to non-profits that benefitted great causes.

 

It’s amazing what ideas can transpire when a few people get together with a similar goal in mind and a few resources.

 

image of a web of connected people

 

I highly encourage any agents to attend a marketing symposium or event that is available to you. The benefits will be much higher than you initially realize. If you can’t make it to an event, reach out to other local independent agents and pick their brain on what they’re doing or what they’ve heard from others in their network.

 

Also, keep in mind the other marketing resources that Safeco offers to its independent partners. Keep an eye on your inbox as they send out regular emails on tools and offers that are hosted on their agent marketing site.

 

Take advantage of what your carriers offer you! Often times these assets can change your business for the best.

Episode 3 – FAQ’s

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