5 Steps to Boost Customer Engagement & Support- Interview with Allstate Business Insurance President

Expand your concept of “customer service”.

It’s not enough to simply ‘serve’.

Customers expect and demand to be engaged and supported.

Recently, Allstate conducted a survey to determine what keeps their small-business customers (small-business owners) awake at night. This information was then used to better meet customer needs.

In this interview, Allstate Business Insurance President tells us about Allstate’s customer service approach. He offers 5 tips to provide outstanding customer support.

Customer Engagement Blog: Allstate recently conducted a survey, which identified 5 business related issues that keep business owners up at night. Why is this information important to Allstate and how will it be used?

Mike Barton: As an insurance provider for 250,000 small-business policyholders and teamed with 10,000 small-business insurance agency owners, Allstate knows small business. Allstate Insurance Company has learned the “top five things that keep small-business owners up at night.” This information enables Allstate’s understanding of our business insurance clients’ needs and, in turn, their ability to provide stronger support and engagement to their customers.

Customer Engagement Blog: How does Allstate use customer research, surveys, outreach etc. to provide outstanding customer service?

Mike: Allstate is in a unique position to learn first-hand what ails small-business owners, and what the solutions are to help them. Additionally, Allstate often works with third-party research firms to help us understand the needs of our clients and customers – whether small-business owners or families looking for personal coverage. Allstate’s recent survey of small-business owners identified the top concerns they face every day. We wanted to share that information to drive public understanding of small business needs, concerns and how they contribute to the economy. This survey represents intelligence we are committed to sharing with our stakeholders and leveraging to help small-business owners.

Customer Engagement Blog: What other ways does Allstate “get inside its customers’ minds” to ensure customer needs are being met?

Mike: Allstate examines a number of different market research and consumer patterns to help us serve our clients and customers. We also have extensive feedback they’ve given us throughout the years that shows how we can be the best at providing customer service and engagement.

Customer Engagement Blog: Allstate offers customized solutions to meet its unique customers’ needs. Why is personalized customer engagement important to Allstate?

Mike: Personalized customer engagement starts with our Allstate agency force. Allstate agents are the backbone of our business and the direct connectors to our clients and customers. Every day, our agents service our clients and customers with personal interaction to ensure they understand their insurance needs and coverage. Our research and feedback from agents helps us help them service small-business owners and families.

Customer Engagement Blog: What is the biggest challenge Allstate faces in meeting customer needs?

Mike: Allstate’s clients, especially small-business owners, are typically multitasking with many competing personal and work-related priorities. To sit clients down and walk them through the adequate coverage to meet their needs can be challenging, and all too often they are too consumed with other priorities. Committing them to realize they need to update their insurance coverage before they experience an unforeseen loss (and not after) is always what we strive to achieve.

Customer Engagement Blog: What tips can you offer to business owners to help them improve their customer support and engagement?

Mike: The following tips may help a small-business owner improve customer support and engagement while providing great peace of mind:

1. Professionally develop relationships.

Get to know your customers outside of transactions.

2. Smartly staff and manage talent.

Labor is the single biggest business expense encompassing near 50 percent of revenue for many businesses. Engaged employees are twice as productive as those who are disengaged. Find meaningful ways to manage employees and keep turnover down, so your customers have familiar, friendly faces to come back to each time they purchase.

3. Invest in customer acquisition and retention tools.

A top concern, but often overlooked, retaining customers is just as important as attracting new ones.

4. Consider expert technology advice.

Although costly, investing in technology maintenance and protection is optimal for keeping the business running smoothly to efficiently service customers.

5. Ensure you are appropriately covered.

Twenty-five percent of small-business claims reported to Allstate are due to damage to the building and/or contents; loss of income; and computer or data loss. Allstate helps ensure a business is covered from simple to complex risks such as property and auto insurance to data compromises, damages to equipment and business interruptions including critical illness.

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Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.
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