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It's a beautiful Saturday morning and we just finished having coffee from Barnie's here in Winter Springs with a new client (and we believe a new friend). Our new client Ron is in town from Denver, Colorado and could only meet us this morning so we had no problem opening up. As we were driving in to the office we stopped for a cup of coffee. Lori called and asked Ron if we could pick him up a cup of coffee too? Ron told us what he drank so we picked it up and met him at our office.  This isn't customer service, it's the "Golden Rule" (do unto others...) and the way that we were raised; common courtesy if you will. I'll finish this thought later in the story though.

   When it comes to business these days buyers are so much more careful with ever dollar that they spend. The economy has pushed society to spend extra time to find additional savings. With the insurance industry and the law the most that we are allowed to do for our clients is to offer them the lowest premium and the highest rated company. There is however something that can be offered for "free" but isn't always considered which is "customer service"! You can't put a monetary value on it but there is "value-added" when considering what insurance company to have take care of you.

I have to give credit to the big companies with their amazing advertising budgets and great commercials. They can offer great prices and multi-line discounts. When we speak to potential clients, this comes up in conversation quite a bit. Our answer is that we have to do a little more work to shop around to different brokers to get the best price but we do, it's just part of what we do and who we are. 

   Here is where we get to have a little fun though. We ask our potential new clients about the other companies "customer service standards". We ask them if they have someone specific that they can call and speak with directly or are they going to get a call center in another state? We ask them if the other company that they are considering even has a local office?  When you spend as much money as you do buying insurance to insure your loved ones, your home, your car or your business wouldn't you like to be able to look someone in the eye, shake their hand and know that your family, your property and your business are all insured by someone that you've met and are comfortable with. 

OK, so we have a beautiful and professional office and an "800 number" to take care of our clients all over the state. We have what most other independent insurance agencies have in the way of staffing and hours of operation and we stay later at night and open on the weekend for our clients when they need us to. We have even driven three hours one way at four thirty in the morning to meet a client for business insurance because that is what he needed at the time. This isn't rocket science; anyone could do this so why do we feel that we are any different?  

I guess it's more of a mind-set or a philosophy that Lori has instilled here at Birchell Insurance Agency and it's this simple. With the economy being so tight and people shopping for deals it comes down to doing not the right thing BUT "doing the right thing right". I know that might be a little confusing but please let me explain. The last time you sat with an agent did they explain the difference between "cash value" and  "replacement cost"? Did they insure you for the mortgage value of your home (which includes the land that your property is located on) or the replacement cost of your home? It's this simple, we believe that if we can go to bed at night knowing that if something should happen to your property that we've insured we know that we can "bring you back to whole". We have unfortunately have had to "fire some clients" because what they wanted was going to save them money but wasn't in their best interest; if there was a "loss" and they had to file a claim, they were not fully insured. We don't want to be the ones to have to tell a client that we could only replace seventy or eighty percent of their property because they were underinsured.

Getting back to our friend Ron. Ron came in this morning, introductions were made and we got down to business.  While drinking his coffee, Ron told us a story about an agent in Denver. Ron met with him one morning in a coffee shop to discuss quotes on several properties. The agent showed up to earn Ron's business as they sat and talked. Not only didn't the agent offer Ron a cup of coffee but when he got up to get a refill he didn't even consider Ron then either. Needless to say Ron eventually ended the meeting and never did business with that agent. Customer service IS "value added", it's not just being considerate, polite, friendly and courteous; we feel it's in the attention to detail of listening to our clients and getting them what they truly need. 

   As I mentioned earlier this isn't rocket science so let me ask you this? When considering an insurance agency if you were to have a catastrophic claim and needed to contact your agent at anytime (including nights, weekends or holidays) could you? As we close business with our clients one thing that we give them is our personal cell phone number. If something is going to go wrong, it will at the worst possible time. Don't you want an agent who's always truly there for you? At Birchell Insurance Agency we are; it's just the way that we do business.


This blog can also be found on WordPress at "http://birchellins.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/customer-service-doing-the-right-thing-right/"
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