Remembering the Customer: Dealing with difficult situations—setting the stage

Jani Rogers (JR Talent Management) offers advice that all interactions with customers are important – every one, every time.
Jani Rogers (JR Talent Management) offers advice that all interactions with customers are important – every one, every time.

Jani Rogers, principal of JR Talent Management and professor at Texas Wesleyan University, presented the true story of the Alamo as she opened her remarks on dealing with difficult situations.  Simply put, the Alamo was a fight for Texas independence that ultimately gave all Americans enduring and inspiring heroic symbols of those who sacrificed for a cause.  Rogers pointed out those who are customer service professionals within the insurance industry are also heroes in their own way.  Strong words, but true—and here’s how she built her case to support those words.

Behind the numbers:  People
The insurance industry is a people industry.  Consumers pay premiums and are looking for the security of the insurance product. Because of the ever-increasing productivity demands found in every industry, all customers now place strong importance on customer service.  Customer service is the foundation upon which any successful business begins.  Customer service professionals within the insurance industry are especially important because they work with individuals who have (most probably) had a negative situation occur and the customer (naturally) is responding with emotion.

Don’t fluff the show
Rogers encouraged all consumer affairs professionals to remember that, just as every performance is critical; every customer is important, every time—so the customer service professional must respond to each customer as the opening night of a show.

How can professionals ensure the show will never be fluffed?  By always keeping the customer in focus and remembering that insurance is a people business.  To realize how important the customer service role is, Rogers encouraged all present to understand the price of poor customer experiences:

  • Dissatisfied customers will tell 8-10 others about the negative experience.
  • At least 12 positive actions are required to make up for one negative experience.
  • If a problem is handled on the spot, 95 percent of consumers will choose your organization for business again.
  • A loyal customer is worth approximately 10 times more than a new client.

Jani Rogers (JR Talent Management) expresses her views on remembering the customer.
Jani Rogers (JR Talent Management) expresses her views on remembering the customer.

Creating the positive experience—know the customers’ needs
Rogers believes all insurance professionals should recognize the basic needs all customers must have met in any business interaction.  Those needs are:  attachment, inclusion and control.

  • Attachment means feeling worthy, important, valuable and significant—in short, that their business matters. When a customer feels slighted or taken advantage of, the feeling of attachment is diminished or eliminated.
  • Inclusion means being in the know, part of something, included and having options.
  • Control translates into a consumer’s need to have choices; the loss of control results in emotional, rather than logical, reactions.  When emotional, people will act in ways other than they usually do.

Emotional vs. logical
Guiding the customer experience is extremely important for the consumer affairs professional—especially   when the customer is emotional.  Here’s why:  the responsible consumer has worked to buy insurance from a reputable organization that, based on a variety of factors, has and will meet their needs.  If that customer expectation is not met, the experience becomes negative and emotions will tend to take over.

The consumer affairs professional, by providing world-class customer service—meaning the customer needs of attachment, inclusion and control are met—can reverse a negative experience and ensure the consumer remains a satisfied customer.  All customer needs can be satisfied by keeping the customer in focus and remembering the customer is at the basis of a multi-level contract between many players—especially in the insurance industry where the contract will include agents, regulators, providers, and, potentially, lawyers.

The extra edge
Rogers urged all attending never to forget a few simple rules in the crush of day-to-day work:

  • Consumer affairs professionals who give consumers: time, perseverance, dignity, power of kindness, and obligation of duty provide superior customer service.
  • Never underestimate the power of the kind word in deflecting an escalating situation, and
  • Conflict is not to be feared, but approached with dignity and diplomacy.

Consumer affairs professionals must recognize that not every decision will be popular nor will it be understood. Rogers urged all to stay focused on solutions that are ethical and to maintain calm when the consumer is not.  Rogers knows that good acts will reap dividends—and consumer affairs professionals who start with the attitude of, “What can I do for you?” rather than, “What can I keep you from doing?” provide consumers with the extra edge.

When consumer affairs professionals are able to do all those things—they become heroes to the consumer, to the company, and to the industry.

CONTACT INFO

Jani Rogers
Principal
JR Talent Management
204 Bayou Court
Coppell, TX 75019
972.462.7986
janirogers@msn.com

www.janirogers.com

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