My family recently shopped around our homeowners and auto insurance to ensure we were getting a fair shake. We used to use an insurance agent for life, auto, and homeowners. I place value in having an agent because they have access to a number of insurance companies (if an independent agent) and should have our best interests in mind. The owner of the agency is a director at a bank, which is a bonus.
But a past "shop" for auto after a dramatic rate increase led me to go to a "direct" insurer. And now, after our most recent shop, we are leaving to a direct insurer for homeowners. When I notified my agent, he asks me if he could have a chance to look around for me, and to try to win back our homeowners and auto.
My e-mail back to him: "I would have appreciated that service prior to me searching on my own." I was irritated. I expect three things from our insurance agent:
1. An analysis of our needs and recommendations to fit those needs;
2. Periodic reviews of our policies versus what is offered by similarly rated insurance companies in the agent's markets; and
3. Good service when I call with questions and problems.
I received one and three from the agent. But I was pretty disappointed when my shopping resulted in a 20% reduction in my homeowners insurance. I am willing to pay a slight premium above discount insurance companies for the service of an agent. But not 20%. This happened with our auto insurance too.
Our agent clearly dropped the ball on two, and scrambled to make up for it after I notified him I had done it on my own. As Donald Trump would say, "you're fired". When I sounded off to my wife about it, she said "I think you have a blog post." Boom!
I suspect financial institutions think they have great customer service too. But in my experience, what FIs mean by great service is "3" above. After my wife planted the seed of this post in my mind, I asked the marketing director of a multi billion FI if they had "service level agreements" (SLAs). She said that they are required to respond to customer inquiries within a certain amount of time, etc. In other words, "3".
But what of one and two? I know it is an insurance list, but don't we have similar demands from our FI? Don't FIs want to be considered for more than a deposit counter or a money machine? Based on my experience, I think they do. In fact, a competitor of my firm did a survey of FI customers that concluded that both businesses and individuals wanted advice from their FI.
Are we giving them what they want? Are we really good at customer service?
What do you think customer service is?