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The Right Way of Dealing with Customers

Robert Regis Hyle | June 09, 2014


The customer is always right. Except, of course, when they’re not and then we have all sorts of issues. Back in a previous lifetime, I was editor/publisher/owner/delivery driver and just about any task you could think of to run a weekly newspaper.

One of my advertisers was a beauty salon and its owner felt it would be a cute idea if the ad he planned to run in my newspaper was flipped upside down. I argued strenuously against his idea. I told him that people would have to turn the paper upside down to read the ad and most readers, given their short attention span, would not make the effort.

A second argument was that as the publisher it would look like I accidentally placed the ad upside down and other advertisers would think I was an even bigger idiot than I actually was. Neither side budged and the beauty salon owners eventually decided he didn’t need to advertise anyway.

The moral of the story is you can help your customers to make good decisions, but they aren’t always interested in your advice. What I was unable to do 25 years ago with my little newspaper, would be much easier for me to accomplish today because I didn’t have any hard data to back up my assertions.

When customers refuse to listen to reasonable advice from professionals that is when it is nice to break out the big guns: the data. We all value our customers greatly; they are the lifeblood of our business, but they also can be exasperating and difficult.

The focus of many insurers today is on their customers. You would think that was always that way, but in insurance that wasn’t always the case. Was the independent agent the customer? Was the policyholder the customer?

These sound like simple questions—people sometimes think it’s a trick question—but it took quite a while for carriers to figure out the answer is both the agent and the policyholder are the customers and it is in the carrier’s best interest to make sure that they understand the wants and needs of both customers.

The focus on customers has been a difficult issue for carriers and solution partners have made steps to improve the communication and understanding of all sides in the insurance triangle. Software solutions are never the complete answer for complicated issues, though. In this case it will take a unified effort within the enterprise from underwriting through billing to ensure the customer is always right. Even if they aren’t.




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