MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio � August 3, 2004 � Proactive and personalized service are an important part of what consumers say they want from their independent insurance agent or broker. And while most independent agents say it�s important to provide this level of service, it also seems many may not realize how closely it�s related to customer satisfaction. These are the results of two recent surveys by the Progressive group of insurance companies, the number one writer of private passenger auto insurance through independent agencies countrywide.
Progressive recently conducted parallel surveys: One of more than 1,100 independent agents and brokers, and another of over 1,800 drivers who bought a policy through an independent insurance agency. Both groups were asked about three types of proactive customer service provided by agents: advising of pending policy cancellations, providing policy and coverage reviews at renewal, and providing assistance with policy forms and paperwork.
According to the surveys, close to 90 percent of consumers who said their agent provides at least one of these services are extremely or somewhat satisfied with the agency. Satisfaction levels are much lower � less than 50 percent � for consumers who say they don�t get this level of service. And while agents surveyed recognized the value of providing these services, the degree to which they are offered to consumers appears to vary.
Notification of pending policy cancellations � 94 percent of customers and 90 percent of agents believe this is a valuable service. However, only 52 percent of customers said their agent provides this service.
Policy and coverage reviews at renewal � 96 percent of customers and almost 100 percent of agents believe this is valuable. However, only 69 percent of customers said their agent provides this service.
Assistance with paperwork � 96 percent of customers and almost 100 percent of agents believe this is valuable. However, only 74 percent of customers said their agent provides this service.
With so much time spent on routine service tasks and on growing their business, it�s natural that some agents may struggle to find the time to provide a more proactive level of service. The good news, however, is that innovations in technology have made it easier for agencies to provide all types of service � quickly and accurately. Progressive offers a few tips for agents looking for ways to use technology to improve their overall customer service offering.
Access real-time policy information using links now offered by many agency management systems. These links let agents use their system to quickly, easily, and securely access up-to-date information directly from the carrier’s Web site � it’s information they can use to identify customers who could benefit from their personalized service and counsel. Progressive has worked with AMS, Applied and DORIS to provide such access to its agents.
Take full advantage of functionality offered exclusively by company Web sites. Progressive’s agency-dedicated Web site, ForAgentsOnly.com (FAO), for instance, lets agents quickly, easily, and securely access endorsements and payments, view policy, billing and claims information, and even e-mail quote information directly to customers. These timesaving tools allow agents to invest more in developing the meaningful relationships that customers value.
Encourage customers to go online to perform routine service tasks like address changes or simple billing inquiries. With more companies joining Progressive in offering 24-hour online policy access to customers, basic service tasks are now quick and easy to process online. Again, this can help save time and effort to be better spent seeking out ways to proactively offer services customers really value.
�The personal lines insurance market is becoming more competitive, and independent agents should try to do all they can to differentiate themselves from captive agents,� said Chris Garson, Progressive�s Agency Business IT Director. �People have busy lives and want their agent to be not only a personal insurance counselor, but a fast problem solver and a provider of accurate, up-to-date information. It�s a tall order for an agent to fill, but customers who get that kind of service are probably going to be with their agent for a long, long time. Technology can really help agents combine the advocacy and local service they�ve always provided with the fast, accurate information and transaction capabilities their customers expect.�
The Progressive group of insurance companies, in business since 1937, comprises the nation�s third largest auto insurance group and the largest writer of auto insurance through independent agents and brokers, based on premiums written. The more than 30,000 independent agencies that represent Progressive companies combine the power of personalized service and counsel with Progressive�s trusted brand, superior 24/7 service, innovative technology and competitive rates. Agents and brokers can login to Progressive�s agency-dedicated Web site, ForAgentsOnly.com (FAO), to access customer policies, state and countrywide news, and other interactive features. The Common Shares of The Progressive Corporation, the holding company, are publicly traded (NYSE:PGR).