How the Best Agencies Do It: Key Element 3

The following is from by Cheryl Koch's presentation at IBA West's Blue Ribbon Confernece earlier this month. Cheryl is President and CEO of Agency Management Resource Group and serves as Managing Director of IBA West Education/Insurance Skills Center. This is the second in a series featuring the eight key elements.

Element No. 3—Invest in Your People

The best agencies consider training an investment, not an expense.  Sadly, the manager at the local Chick-fil-A probably received more training than some of your employees, and yet the consequences of making a mistake aren’t nearly as high.  Although there are many training programs available for agency producers, CSRs are usually trained on the job, sometimes by a person who has neither the aptitude nor attitude required to do the job well.  We call this kind of training the Osmosis Chair, because new employees are expected to sit at their desk and absorb knowledge up through their backside.  Structured programs that will teach CSRs how to manage their desks, prioritize their work, and provide the excellent customer service our customers deserve will be required to ensure people have the tools they need to perform their jobs.

If you have found the right people, and trained them the right way, you must then structure compensation that is appropriate and rewards the behavior you desire.  It’s pretty easy to structure a producer’s pay based on new revenue growth, but compensation issues get more difficult for CSRs, the people that spend the most time interacting with the agency’s customers.  Investing in people means providing them with a clear idea of how their contribution to the agency’s bottom line will result in rewards that are meaningful to them.  The following metrics should be considered when structuring CSR compensation plans:

  • Amount of revenue handled
  • Account retention rates
  • Customer satisfaction ratings
  • Timeliness of processing transactions
  • Error rates

A commitment to lifelong learning is vital to our continued success.  It starts on Day One when you communicate to a new employee that you consider his or her professional development to be one of the most important investments you make in your agency.

 (Look for Element 4 in the next edition of the Insider.)