Delivering Value and Individualized Customer Service

August 4, 2011 · Posted in Insurance · Comment 

By: Ray Whitehouse, Co-Owner & Agent at Johnson-Pohlmann Insurance

When it comes to delivering the best customer service and value for your customers, you always want to put your best foot forward. Every interaction you have with a customer gives them an impression of your company. Are your customers happy with their decision to give you their business? Are they having some regrets? Check in from time to time to see how clients are doing and gauge how satisfied they are with your agency.
At Johnson Pohlmann, we try to ensure that our customer service representatives know as much information as possible about the customers that are calling to ask about their policy. Many of our local Kentucky residents will call in with questions about their policy. We believe that our CSRs should be able to answer any questions our clients may have regarding their Kentucky auto insurance, home owners, boat, life or any other policy that a customer may have.
If you are not already, you should be using these tactics to improve the service you are offering your customers.
Take the Temperature of Your Customers:
Say Ahh! When you have established a relationship with your customers ask them to fill out a customer survey to give you direct feedback on how they perceive their individual level of customer service. Take the information and find out where you can improve. As an independent insurance agency, your customers do business with you because you can offer them a better customer service experience than large carriers. Make sure you are delivering what your customers are looking for on your end. A short survey with numerical values rating your performance is a simple way to get some informative feedback.
Use Metrics to Drive Your Service:
You are spending time gathering information from your customers so why not use it to improve your overall customer service strategies? Collecting data is an aimless task if you do not ultimately apply it to improving your business. Keep statistical data on everything from the average time spent with a customer on the phone, common questions and concerns, and the overall customer satisfaction numbers. How many customers gave you high service ratings?
Try Harder to Understand Your Customers:
Many times it can be easy to forget where a customer is coming from when they call you to ask a question regarding their policy. Typically when someone calls customer service they are looking for a brief to the point answer to their question. The last thing they want to do is sit on hold for 10 minutes to get a simple answer to their question. Ask yourself, how can you streamline this process? Do you notice any bottlenecks in the process? If several customers contact your CSRs with very similar questions, maybe you should add something to your Facebook page, or website answering the question on a Frequently Asked Questions page.

One way that businesses can improve their savings and reduce wastefulness

June 16, 2011 · Posted in Company · Comment 

Almost all companies are constantly looking for ways to reduce their spending, but more often than not simple solutions around the office are overlooked. One way that businesses can improve their savings and reduce wastefulness is through recycling, according to All Business. Not only does reusing office supplies help lower the overall cost of resources, but it helps the environment as well.

To begin instilling green values into the office, companies are encouraged to educate their employees on how to reduce waste on a regular basis. Make it a habit to recycle everything your company uses and would normally just throw away. Just about any kind of paper you would encounter in an office, including fax paper, envelopes, and junk mail, can be recycled. Informing individuals on how to properly recycle is the first step to lowering the number of items that go into the trash receptacle. Place blue bins around the office for paper, plastics and other waste. Providing the resources to recycle is an effective way to get individuals to start thinking green.

Next, make it a point to stress the importance of saving paper. Oftentimes, a hard copy of a document is not necessary, especially when email exists. If printing is necessary, companies should encourage employees to utilize double-sided printing to reduce waste. Reusing sheets that have only been printed on one side is another way to cut back on paper usage.

Items, such as old binders, paper clips and pens, can often be reused around the office. Instead of buying new supplies, businesses should try to make do with what they have before willingly spending money on additional stationary. Replacing the ink in a pen with a refill can be more cost-effective in the end.

When the printer runs out of ink and toner, consider mailing the cartridges back to the manufacturer. Oftentimes, a company will refill the cartridge for free in order to comply with sustainable business practices. It is also cheaper for the company to refill cartridges over time.

To make the most of environmentally friendly practices, company managers are encouraged to keep an eye on the supply closet. If the staff is still running through paper and pencils without thinking of the consequences, a limitation may need to be instituted. Offer employees a chance to exchange their old stationary for new items to ensure proper disposal.

Businesses can also stress the point through hosting parties or company-wide events with the money saved through recycling. In the end, sustainable business practices can help a company brand its name as a reputable company in the industry.

A few factors to consider in choosing Business Analytics System

June 1, 2011 · Posted in Business Tools · Comment 

Data increasingly plays a pivotal role in any business’s day to day activities, and it takes effective business intelligence solutions to be able to manage it. Not only does the data need to be accurate, but it needs to be conveyed and shown in a way that is understandable, that lets you see the relationship between data sets and the story they tell. Choosing a business analytics system is no easy task, as there are many factors to consider.

What is Business Analytics Software?
Business intelligence solutions allow companies to perform reporting and in depth analysis of detailed information across every reach of their organization. They access data from various applications, systems and data bases, format it and present it to end users in an understandable format. Often, they use color graphs and charts to show the relationships between various factors. They allow managers more effective decision making by providing core data that clearly explains the relationship or a problem and what solutions might be available.

Why Does Your Company Need Business Intelligence Solutions?
The challenge to manage enterprise data can be especially challenging for organizations simply because there has literally never been so much data at prior point in human history. Critical business data is scattered across a range of platforms that are just far too complicated to keep up on with the naked eye. Keeping up on every factor would require an extensive IT staff which most businesses simply can’t afford to do. Business analytics provides a much more cost effective system. Data is automatically entered and deciphered in the system. You get an instant report based on solid data, and can instantly see that data’s relationship in everything you do.

Features
There are several features offered in today’s business intelligence solutions, and if your business analytics does not include them, you’re getting short changed. One important aspect of today’s software is ad hoc reporting. This minimizes the burden on IT resources by ensuring that front line workers have immediate access to all the data they need to know in order to do their jobs. The best business analytics allow functional end users to build and run their own reports while shielding from the complexities of underlying data. This way, they have what they need to do their job without being overburdened by confusing data. This also helps add to the security of your data.

Flexible output formats are also key in any business intelligence solutions. Make sure your business analytics enables users to report data in a variety of formats, including spreadsheets, HTML, word processing documents and other mediums. The reporting of data takes many forms. Make sure you have a system that can handle them all.

An Order Fulfillment Center Helps You Capitalize On Every Sale!

May 22, 2011 · Posted in Service Reviews · Comment 

Do you know one of the biggest reasons why companies don’t meet their sales quotas? They have problems with order fulfillment. If you’re not in the loop, order fulfillment is simply the part where the product is actually prepared for shipment to the customer. However, for every business there is a different fulfillment process. A company that needs orders filled on the fly might need to have CDs automatically burned with data and then packaged in bubble mailers for shipment. Other companies might have a different setup. Either way, order fulfillment is a pretty big issue.

Just because this is something other companies stumble over doesn’t mean that you have to suffer the same fate through your company. You just need to make sure that you get the right tools and resources on your side. Not sure what to get first? Well, contracting the services of an order fulfillment center is definitely a step in the right direction.

You see, instead of having your best people worrying about order fulfillment, you are essentially contracting that task to a company that does nothing else except handle this facet of the sales process for its customers. This can let your best people focus their strengths elsewhere, which could drive sales even higher. Some small to medium businesses have some of their top talent handling both sales and fulfillment, which might not be the most effective way to use that talent. It’s a lot easier for a top salesperson to focus on sales than it would be for them to try to divide time between sales and order fulfillment.

An order fulfillment center can not only prepare your product for shipment, but make sure that your brand is in place as well. So, if you’re really looking for ways to maximize every sale, you will definitely want to think about turning over this key part of your business to a trusted outsourcer!

An Online Risk Survey is a low-cost and highly effective way to identify and assess Business Risks

May 4, 2011 · Posted in Business Advices · Comment 

Conducting an online risk survey is a low-cost and highly effective way to identify and assess business risks. In our highly competitive and fast changing economy, business executives and Board members should consider conducting an online risk mitigation survey annually. What you will learn can save your business significant money, avoid a hit to your company’s reputation and strengthen your sustainability. It may also save your company from bankruptcy or failure due to a catastrophic incident.

Many businesses have little or no resources focusing on identifying and assessing the risks facing them. Of those companies that do have a risk assessment program, or at least some emphasis on risk management, a significant number focus on a small number of the obvious risks including the typical insurable risks.

In reality, most businesses either are not aware of or are ignoring a wide range of risks that can significantly hurt their bottom line, reputation, and the health and well being of their employees, customers and community. A robust approach to identifying, assessing, managing and mitigating risk should include the ongoing assessment of a broad list of at least 50 – 75 potential types of risks. The approach should also include the assessment of both the potential impact and likelihood of occurrence of each risk type.

The best approach is to gather information from managers and other key employees at all levels of the organization. Some companies also gather input about risk from their Board members. An online risk management survey is the fastest and best way to gather information, insight and suggestions about risks from many people. To that end, each question should include a comments fields. Comments enable responders to say why they believe specific types of risks are or are not likely to occur and why their impact is potentially high or low. Responders can also make suggestions about what can be done to mitigate risks.

Unlike many other types of employee surveys which should guarantee that responses are anonymous, responders to an online risk survey should not be anonymous. It is important to be able to follow up with responders to get additional information and to clarify their answers where needed.

The starting point is to design a comprehensive online risk mitigation survey. It is beneficial to use a survey company with significant knowledge and experience in this area. They will save you time and provide useful reports without the need to spend days using Excel to create your own useful reports.

Give people enough time to send in their responses. Three to four weeks is typically an appropriate response period. Make sure to include enough of the right people as participants in the survey. Include all managers and supervisors in your organization and other employees that are in key positions with the knowledge about customers, suppliers, business processes, contracts and regulations, and other risk-related points.

It is important to thoroughly and objectively analyze the responses, including the ratings and comments. This is another area in which an experienced survey company can add significant value.

The final steps include to creating an action plan to manage and mitigate the key risks, communicating the assessment and implementation plan with all appropriate people and then focusing on effective implementation. Implementation may require financial and other resources, and it will definitely require strong visible support from your company’s senior management.

Given the fast-changing pace of most businesses, it is useful to conduct online risk reduction surveys annually to track progress and trends, and to identify new risks that surfaced in the past year.