Becoming Indispensible to Customers

Today, I had the honor of being part of a customer panel for Insurance Office of America, who handles our commercial insurance as well as our benefits.

I joined four others and we fielded questions on how we viewed the industry and gave pointers on how IOA’s sales force could improve their effectiveness.

My primary contact at IOA is John Lahey. He has been the insurance agent I’ve done business with for almost 30 years.

For the first five years or so, we would conduct a bid for our business. John’s bid was always competitive and we would end up signing again with John’s agency. At some point, we determined that we could be effective if we would partner up in pursuit of finding the best insurance products to handle our risk. It has worked out for us.

When it comes to insurance, I don’t “prefer” John Lahey and his company. I “demand” John Lahey and his company. How does it work?

  1. He has become an expert in our business. He doesn’t merely quote insurance. He has endeavored to understand what we do and how we do it. He uses that knowledge to recruit carriers that are a good match for us.
  2. He’s a professional insurance man. In other words, he is constantly monitoring changes in the insurance world and making sure that we stay current in the products we use.
  3. He is for us. I am confident that he is our advocate in the rare disputes between our company and the carriers. He knows how we think. He knows what we want. He is an effective advocate on our behalf.
  4. He has made us good insurance consumers. In addition to learning about our business, he has endeavored to teach us about his. He has taught us how to be an effective customer to insurance companies. We have crafted our safety policies and our risk management strategies in such a way as to become an excellent potential customer. When insurance customers encounter our team, they see that our goal is to avoid accidents and claims. That makes us a customer worth competing for because they will likely make money should they get our business. John helped us with that knowledge.
  5. He is transparent. We know he doesn’t work for free. He knows that we expect that our total cost of insurance needs to be less than our competitors. We share information on how to accomplish it. I believe that we do.
  6. His transparency, combined with his honesty, has created a trust.

I suppose someday John will retire. When he does, if I’m still working, it will create a hole that will be tough to fill.

That’s the goal in our business relationships, isn’t it? To create such a relationship that a customer can’t imagine doing their work without you as part of the team. We all serve someone. That’s the customer. Our goal is to work to make ourselves indispensible. To work in such a way as to be valued when they see us coming, missed if we weren’t there.