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Managing Client Complaints

Insurance Forums Staff

Most people would agree (and in fact, have agreed) that the hardest part of selling insurance comes in the form of finding enough people to whom you can pitch your services.  As client retention and satisfaction is consistently such a challenge, it feels monumentally important to keep the clients that you do have happy.   When a client complains, it can feel like a really big deal.  We asked our forum members how they handle client complaints, and mitigate the problems that result from them.   Here are some of the best strategies we found for coping with unhappy clients.

1.  Listen

Many of our experienced agents told us that remaining calm and listening to the root of the issue is vital.  Clients come in all different personality types, but when they’re complaining they generally all have one thing in common – the need to be heard.  You can show that you understand what they’re upset about, by saying something like, “Okay, so if I understand correctly, you’re saying that the issue is….”    Forum member Leo Longoria said, “If you feel you need to interrupt, don’t. Let them finish even if it is hard to do.”  Nothing diffuses tension like a willingness listen and put yourself in a client’s shoes.

2. Avoid Formal Complaints As Often As Possible

Before a complaint is in writing, an agent has more flexibility to mediate an issue.  Once a formally written complaint occurs, agents must follow the protocol of their firm, carrier, and/or colleagues, so it’s best to avoid this approach where possible.  Instead of responding to complaints in writing, pick up the phone or offer to meet to discuss the problem.  By properly reviewing the issue at hand, you can help the client solve his or her predicament.    At the same time, it is still important to document everything in the case that the situation does escalate to arbitration.

3.  Give Your Client Options

If possible, give your client a choice, so that he or she feels more in control of the situation.  Ask the complainant lots of questions to make sure you understand the nature of his or her concern, and verify that information.  The client will appreciate your taking the time to review his or her situation.  Ask the client, “We can either do ‘a’ or ‘b’, which would you feel more comfortable with?”

4.  Stay In Touch

You don’t want to do a disappearing act when your client complains.  Follow up with your client as soon as possible, stay in touch, and follow up again until you have verified that  his or her needs are met.   Assure the complainant that you are committed to a serious resolution, and show that you mean it.

5. Apologize

It’s easier said than done, but you should always apologize to a disgruntled client.  Even if what happened is 100 percent your client’s fault, a little humility can go along way in solving a crisis.  Apply your best dose of diplomacy and say “I’m sorry.”  Everyone appreciates an apology.



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