How Business Basics Can Make a Difference to Your Agency

April 30, 2014

Phone Etiquette

How you answer the phone could play the biggest role in whether a customer buys a policy from you or the next person on Google. There are a handful of polite ways to answer the phone that will leave a great impression on a potential customer. First, let's go over how you shouldn't answer the phone.



'Hello?' Is this a polite way to answer a phone as a business?


'Insurance.' One word. Nothing else. How is a customer supposed to know who they called?


'Insurance office.' Same as above. How is this polite?


Sometimes your greeting is limited by your physical location. If you share a building with more than one business and have one receptionist, you won't be able to answer with your insurance agency name. Typically, though, this isn't an issue.


So, how should you answer the phone? Here are a few tips:

  1. Answer promptly. Are you talking with a co-worker when the phone rings? Tell your co-worker to hold on and answer the phone.
  2. Be professional and enthusiastic. Don't sound like you just woke up and don't care about the person on the line. This could be the only impression of your agency that the person gets. Ultimately, your clients are paying your salary.
  3. Ask before you put someone on hold, and give him or her a chance to respond. If the person says no, ask to take a message. If the caller is on hold longer than 45 seconds, pick up and ask if he or she would like to continue holding or for you to take a message. Never forget someone is on hold.
  4. Never answer an incoming call on speaker phone.
  5. Miss a call? You need voicemail. Make sure you let the customer know your hours, location, your website URL and that they can access it 24/7.
  6. If you don't know something, don't let the customer know that. Say 'Let me find out for you.'


And now for a couple of examples of how to answer the phone.


'Thank you for calling ITC, this is Phillip, how can I help you today?'


'Good morning/afternoon and thank you for calling ITC, this is Phillip, how can I assist you?'


'It's a great day at ITC, this is Phillip, how may I help you?'


Email Collection

Collecting emails is one of the most important things an insurance agency can do. Email is the easiest way to contact a client and is the best way to market to them as well. Before hanging up with a client, every person on your staff should check your agency's records to make sure an email address is on file for that client. If there is no email address on file, get one. I have heard the excuse that certain demographics don't have emails or that people won't give them up. I don't believe that. Give your staff an internal contest to collect emails. Offer a dinner for two or some movie tickets once a month to whoever gets the most email addresses.


Let's say your clients really do always say they don't have an email address. Here is a great tip: never use a yes or no question to collect emails. When someone asks me for my email, I always say no because it was given as an option. Here are three ways to ask for emails that don't use a yes or no question:

  1. 'Would you like me to send information about your policy to your personal or work email?'
  2. 'Some carriers offer a discount for keeping an email address on file. Which email do you want me to use to try and get you a discount?'
  3. 'Do you have a Facebook account? Great. What email address do you use to log in?'


Test these out, and see which one works best for you.


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