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Answer the Damn Phone!

Answer the phone

24 / 7 customer service is a reality

About a year ago we started having problems with our after hours voice mail system. In investigating the issue, it seemed that we were going to have to invest in a new phone system. That was until one of my employees stepped up and said, if you give me a cell phone, I’ll answer all calls after hours. This seemed like a great idea to me UNTIL the employee was relocated and thus no longer an employee and no longer answering our phone. No other employee wanted the responsibility so I, the owner of the company said, I’ll try it.

For the past year and a half, every day at 5:00 pm, my office calls my cell and states “forwarding the phones”. Many times I don’t answer this call and it simply goes to voice mail. From 5:00 pm until 8:00 am the next morning, anyone that calls our office gets routed to my personal cell phone.

I can tell you that I average about 5 calls a week and one on the weekend. 95% of all calls are people that were going to leave a message, banks needing proof of insurance, or after hour sales calls. No matter the need, I explain whom I am and that I answer all calls in case we have a claim. Once I hang up, I send a quick email from my phone to the person who the client was calling for letting them know of the call.

Sometimes people are on their way to a dealership and need coverage information. I handle these situations easily giving them a binder number and then sending an email to my staff informing them of my “binding” and ask them to follow up the following day to collect the needed information.

I encourage ALL agency owners to begin answering the phone after hours and on the weekend. It’s refreshing to talk to clients, vendors, etc and does create a point of difference for your company.

My best story of this “point of difference” happened one Friday night about 11:30 pm. I got a call from a client who told me they had major roof damage and water was pouring in their manufacturing plant. I asked if they needed a contractor out there immediately, they stated NO, not necessary tonight, but tomorrow, we’ll need some help.

At 6:00 am, I called one of our remediation teams and advised them of the potential claim. They were on the road by 7:00, at 6:10, I called their carriers local adjuster and left a message as to the potential claim. I arrived at my clients at 7:00 am to survey the damage and make sure the contractor showed up to get started on the repairs.

At 7:30 the claims adjuster arrived on the scene and begin to assess the claim. By noon, the repairs were well under way. This account gets solicited weekly for their insurance business. This experienced solidified our agency’s level of service as second to none and will help insulate this relationship for years to come.

My question to agency owners is “if your company had that 11:30 pm claim call”, who is going to answer the phone?

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