Most E&O classes speak to the value and benefit of agency management performing a periodic audit, either monthly or quarterly. The goal is to verify that the staff is meeting the agency’s expectations in areas of documentation, system process / management and cross selling initiatives, to name a few.
For many of the staff, they probably don’t know how they will “score” until the audit is officially done. After all, they are so busy trying to keep up with their workload. One solution to consider is for each staff member (at least the CSRs / Account Managers / Producers) to do a mini audit of their own work. The benefit is that each of these staff members would be able to “take a step back” and objectively look at their work and determine whether it meets the standards of the agency.
Some “rules” that need to be in place (or at least considered):
– The agency needs to ensure that the expectations of each of the positions are well documented and accessible for the staff.
– The staff should be required to use the same audit form that management uses when they perform their review.
– Each staff member’s results are for “their eyes only”. The goal is to encourage the staff member to honestly and objectively evaluate their work without any fear of retribution.
This concept should be discussed in a meeting to explain the desired goal which is to identify any deficiencies before a problem develops. Consider having a theme for each quarter such as “for this quarter, the focus is on documentation”:
– does it identify by name the customer involved.
– is the documentation detailed (does it tell a story)
– was it done promptly (within 1 hour of the discussion)
– is it professional (how would a jury view it)
– are there any open items and if so, has a diary been set up
For producers, also consider a focus on increasing the number of applications where a customer signature was secured or enhancing the proposal to assist in educating the customer / prospect.
Hopefully this will enable staff members to realize that they are either doing the job or they have some work to do. If they have some “work to do”, this might result in their making a stronger commitment to hitting the various expectations of the agency.
As most agency staff are aware, at the time of an E&O claim, the entire file (agency system notes, e-mails, correspondence, etc.) are all discoverable and admissible by both the attorney representing the agency as well as the attorney representing the plaintiff that is pursuing legal action against the agency. Discovering any shortfalls or weaknesses before a problem develops is definitely the preferred approach. A “self audit” by the staff on their own work is a step in the right direction.