How To Build A Strong Company Culture

The key to a successful business is happy employees. The key to happy employees is a strong company culture. 

When people are happy to come in to work every day, it makes them want to do better. Enjoying your office space and work surrounding is so important. By keeping employees happy and comfortable in the office, they will perform better.

Now that you know why its so important, here are some ways that you can improve your company culture:

Creative work space — Non traditional office spaces evoke creative work out of employees. Sure, having a desk and personal space to get your work done is important, but collaborative spaces have also proven to boost company culture.

Create a common space where employees can go to work when they need a change of pace. Everyone works differently, perhaps some employees would do better with a standing up desk option, while others might prefer to work on a couch with a lap top. You are doing your company a dis service to limit these kind of options. 

Flexible work hours — As I mentioned before, everyone is different. Not every employee will come in and do their best work from 9-5. Some people are feeling energized and ready to work really early in the morning and might like to come into the office around 7AM, while others cannot be productive in any capacity before noon. Grant the flexibility to your employees and watch the work quality sky rocket.

Foster an environment where people want to be — If employees enjoy the space that they work in, they will perform better. Company culture doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is up to the employees to participate. Hold weekly contests for some friendly office competition, start some clubs in the office that people can attend after work hours. For example, a yoga club led by someone in the office who is particularly fond of yoga. Wednesdays at 6 you all meet in the lounge and engage in a relaxing session before going home for the day. Not only are you potentially learning a new skill, you’re spending time with people from your office in a non work related way, allowing you room to get know your coworkers.

Social activities out side of office — Incentivize employees to meet goals with group outings as the reward. Happy hours are a great and easy thing to plan to celebrate the hard work of your employees that also goes along well with my last mentioned point. When people like the people that they work with, they are more inclined to come in and do their best. When they really enjoy to be where the work, they will go the extra mile. They will stay late to get some extra work done because their friends are staying late as well. 

Best Practices: Retention & Customer Service

Running a business largely depends on maintaining and gaining customers each month. For an insurance agency in particular, retaining customers and making sure they are satisfied with their insurance agent will play a major role in deciphering your insurance company from many others. Here are a few ways you can make sure that your customer service is above and beyond so that you can retain customers and grow your business:

First, know your customer. At many insurance agencies, people become numbers and there are very little personal interactions and connections between employees and customers. A good company, regardless of what type of business it caters to, knows the people they are serving – without them, business would plummet. Communication is key when it comes to building relationships with your customers, so be sure your employees are great at effectively communicating. Nobody wants to get help from a computer, so make sure your employees don’t sound like one. Having compassion for customers is the initial step towards great customer service.

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Next, your employees should be knowledgeable and know how to answer questions about insurance policies in general and specific to your company. In the event that a question cannot be answered, there should be a protocol for your employee to tell the client that he or she will speak to a manager and will give them know as soon as possible. Make sure a follow-up email or phone call is setup so that the client is not left hanging. Your employees should speak with confidence and be well-educated for their position. If your company does not have a basic annual training program for both new and old employees, that is something that should be implemented right away.

Another aspect of customer service that your company should be up to par with is answering emails and responding to phone call in a timely fashion. No customer should be left in the dark if he or she has a question or is expecting an update of some sort. Be sure that your employees have a 24-48 hour rule when it comes to responding to voicemails and emails – even text messages if everyone has a company cell phone. Being attentive and responding to customers is extremely important for your business, because if you don’t respond the customer is not likely to a) refer you to prospective clients and b) have a good experience with the company, which could lead to negative feedback and may eventually not be a customer anymore. Even if the question seems vague or unimportant, your employees should hop on the phone with the customer and listen to what they have to say.

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In conclusion, if customers are not satisfied with the service you are providing, they will not continue to use your product. Communicating effectively and responding quickly to voicemails, emails, and text messages are great ways to stay in touch and actively engage with your customers so that they will want to stay with your company as long as possible.

Best Practices: Training Employees

Training employees so they can know the ins and outs of their job as insurance agents is vital to their own personal success, as well as the success of your business as a whole. Perhaps what’s even more important than training employees is the way you execute training.

Often times, agencies do not train employees specifically for their job duties. In turn, this leads to employees being disengaged in training, and it ends up being somewhat of a waste of time. Instead, everyone in the insurance agency should be trained based on their specific position and not a position that they are not specialized in, nor should they be. For example, a receptionist should not be in the same training circle as an employee in service since a receptionist has different duties that involve looking up clients instead of servicing business. Though the receptionist should have a general understanding of how the service works, it is not necessary for him or her to go through intensive training for a position other than his or her own.

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In addition to catering training based on separate departments of your company, there should always be a set date and time for training so that your employees can get on a regular schedule. Your company may even have a certificate program that lasts for six weeks, scheduling in 2-3 hours of training each week in different segments. According to an article published on InsuranceJournal.com:

“Make a plan for dates and times for training. Post where everyone can see. No vacation time during the training period should be scheduled. Someone in management that can answer specific questions about the standards and processes must be present in every session. Questions should never be left just hanging in the air,” (Alexander, Best Practices – Training & Implementation).

Furthermore, your staff should understand that training is a vital necessity of their job, and they should take it as serious as any other part of the workday.

Having a staff that is fully engaged during these important training sessions means that they are eager to learn more about their job, and in turn will boost company confidence. If any questions arise, your staff should be open about asking them – and higher-level managers and company executives should be prepared to answer anything that comes up. It is also imperative that if there is something that member of your staff do not understand during training, they let the trainer know so that they can leave the session with full clarity in what is being taught.

Remember, training employees should be taken very seriously, and your employees should know that there are consequences for non-compliance, as well as rewards for compliance.

Insurance Agency Best Practices

There are many steps to take when it comes to establishing your insurance agency as one that your customers would recommend. Being willing to make sacrifices along the way is just one element towards maintaining a well-liked, efficient, and effective insurance agency. Here are a few best practice tips to help your insurance agency gain recognition throughout your area:

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First, always focus on customer service and satisfaction. A great way to keep track of your agency’s customer satisfaction, besides calculating renewal rates, is to provide an informal survey that caters to your customers’ perceptions and includes suggestions to help improve your service. Always remember to go out of your way for customers, and try to go above and beyond their expectations.

Second, build a valuable staff with well-educated, personable employees that are not only great people for your customers to trust, but a pleasure to be around in the office environment. You should also provide training and tools your staff needs to do their jobs effectively with utmost efficiency. Incorporate leadership programs and reward employees when they are showing improvement and helping your agency meet its goals. Remember to celebrate and keep your workplace in a positivAmigo MGAe environment.

Third, be sure your agency has a clear mission statement that everyone who partakes in your company knows by heart. This statement should be the focus of your agency and customers should understand its meaning.

Fourth, your agency should be up-to-date with technology. Many companies are in a decline due not be able to adapt to current technological trends and improvements. Technology is a necessity for helping your agency grow, keep customer contact, and complete tasks efficiently.

Finally, always seek for continuous improvement. All companies should be seeking to improve at all times – a company cannot grow if it is not measuring its performance against its past performance (and that of competitors).

Very First Post

Hello, and welcome to Amigo MGA’s blog for insurance professionals.  Be sure to stay tuned for what’s to come.