Training Your Employees to Listen
Who's listening to your insurance clients? If you're more focused on building your agency than on having a dialogue between you and your clients, you could miss out on many key insurance marketing opportunities. When you're hiring insurance employees, you not only need to hire employees who have strong verbal and written communication skills, you also need to hire good listeners.
What Do Strong Listening Skills Sound Like?
Strong listeners understand that every client is different. They know that in order to understand each individual client's needs, they not only need to provide insurance options, they also need to listen to that client and see what products truly match that client's needs. Listening is even more important than speaking to a client and providing solutions because listening allows you to understand that client.
Strong listeners also show empathy toward a client. Clients want you to understand them. If they have a question about adding their family member to their auto insurance policy and they're frustrated because they can't find the right policy, showing an understanding of their situation may not help them find the right product in the end, but it helps the client have a more for filling customer service experience. If you want your business to grow by word-of-mouth, you need insurance employees who can empathize with clients.
Body language is important when you are trying to show that you're listening. Your employees should make eye contact and use body clues such as leaning in to let clients know that they are listening to their problems.
Training Employees to Listen
According to Skills You Need, "research shows that an average of 45% (of an adult's time) is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading, and 9% writing." Your employees must be extremely competent at the underrated skill of listening.
How can you train your employees to be good listeners?
Emphasize the importance of listening. Let your employees know that you expect them to truly understand the client's needs.
Develop a listening first policy. By listening to the clients' needs first, your employees can get an understanding of the situation, empathize with the client, and prevent miscommunication about the actual problem.
Train your employees in active listening. According to the Harvard Business Review, "immediately after the average person has listened to someone talk, he remembers only about half of what he has heard—no matter how carefully he thought he was listening." Practice summarizing the core of what others have said before speaking yourself, whether this is in an internal meeting or when working with clients.
Encourage your employees to be critical listeners. During staff meetings, ask employees to listen and provide strong critical or thoughtful feedback on a proposal that was introduced orally.
Use listening as a way to improve your products, marketing, and customer service. Hold regular feedback sessions with insurance employees can present some of the questions, concerns, and opportunities that have come up during their time listening to clients.
Why Listening is Important
When you train your employees to listen, make sure that they know that they are not just there to solve problems: they are also there to understand them. It may be that your insurance agency can't fulfill the needs of the particular client. By listening to the client, you can understand whether to refer the person to another company, or whether that client's conversation highlights the need for your business to develop new products.
At American Agents Alliance, we're here to listen to you. We work with independent insurance agencies to provide the support you need to run your business. How can we help your insurance business thrive? Take a look at our many membership benefits and connect with other insurance companies at our annual insurance convention in September. It's the largest P&C insurance event in the west.