A common phrase for management is that “the buck stops here”. While this is true on many issues, from an E&O perspective, “the buck” not only stops with management; it starts with management. For an agency to have a strong E&O commitment and culture, management needs to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk”. It would be very hard for the staff to be committed to doing the right thing when it evident that management does not always take this path.
The best agencies (from an E&O perspective) are those where management sets a clear and concise message and clearly lays out the expectations of the agency. They are actively involved and interact with the staff to ensure that they are aware of the agency issues. They listen to the staff and respect their thoughts. They provide feedback to ensure that staff members grow because they know that when the staff grows, the agency grows. Many actively attend E&O classes to show their support and commitment. Clearly they lead by example.
The goal of the agency should be for each staff member whether the responsibilities are those of a producer, account exec, accounting, claims, etc., to have a strong E&O commitment to themselves, their fellow team members and to the agency as a whole. Tasks are handled promptly and professionally, customers are treated with respect and conversations are fully documented in the system and back to the customer to address any potential misunderstandings. The staff is proficient not only technically but with sales and customer service training. Obviously, these objectives don’t just happen.
Some items to show / enhance that E&O commitment:
Regularly scheduled staff meetings – these are a great tool to ensure open and solid communication. It would be appropriate to take a portion of each meeting for education on some topic. This could be a technical topic, discussion on a new carrier form or new underwriting guidelines or possibly to address the questions that your customers are asking. Using the time to reinforce agency procedures and expectations such as documentation will ensure consistency and growth.
Education of the customers – help your customers understand what they have and what they don’t. This will no doubt result in customers that feel respected. Possibly use a newsletter, paper or electronic, to communicate this information.
Procedural review – are some of your procedures in need of some updating? If it has been a while since they have been reviewed, you may find some great opportunities to achieve gains in efficiency and professionalism.
E&O loss control seminar – attended by both management and staff. These can be extremely beneficial to help educate management / staff on the latest E&O issues.
Bottom line, as management, are you happy with the E&O commitment / culture of your agency? A good starting point is to look in the mirror and ask yourself “what is my commitment?” Good E&O results don’t just happen…they take a strong commitment from management to lead the way.