Agent Link December 2018

THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?

Why Nurturing Employees and Customers Is the Key to Retention

Who comes first: employees or customers? When posed this classic business question, Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher had an easy answer: employees. “If employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right,” Kelleher explained. As Kelleher knows well, employee-customer relations are a cycle — one that fuels recurring business. Engaged employees deliver services that convert to sales, a fact backed up by a Gallup report. Gallup cited a 20 percent increase in sales as a result of this process. Even as you’re courting leads, you can’t ignore your existing producers. Likewise, even (and especially) as you grow, you have to nurture your employees.The cost of losing either is too high. In the holiday rush it’s important to not lose sight of your priorities. Get them hooked on your service. Have you ever asked a client why they return to your business? Do you think it’s because they can’t find your product or service anywhere else? Probably not.Think about the last time you returned to a restaurant. Was it because it’s the only place in town that makes amazing Thai food? Maybe. It is more likely that you enjoyed the welcoming host, attentive waiter and positive experience you had there. Starbucks is a great example. Even with immense competition, they deliver consistent service and quality products to customers, no matter if they are in Oregon or London. And they do this by providing competitive wages and benefits to their employees along with training and learning opportunities. Employees who are knowledgeable and excited about what they are offering pass their enthusiasm on to customers. Own up to mistakes. Even the best businesses make mistakes. When it happens, own up to it. There’s probably been a time when you put in your order at a restaurant only to receive the wrong thing. How did the business handle it? Did they admit their mistake and offer you a new meal? How a business treats customers when things don’t go smoothly is a

Strategic Planning f Encourage Producers to Get It Done “If you really want to be successful, then focus your thoughts first on ‘getting it right.’ Then focus your efforts on ‘getting it done.’ That’s my advice for you. Think first; then do.” –Verdis Norton, Gillette and Kraft chief strategist and formulator of StrategicLink Every BGA and IMO we know wants to recruit quality producers, contract more of them and have them writing business efficiently in the year to come. As an organization whose success is tied to the producers you contract, you know how valuable they are. So what are you doing to help them? One surefire way to ensure better results in 2019 is to motivate your agents and advisors. In their article “Think More, Do More,” Tyler Norton, founder of StrategicLink, and Jerry M. Toombs, 26- year Million Dollar Round Table member, describe how strategic planning techniques can motivate your producers to deliver results in the coming year. Stimulating a Change in Perspective Norton’s strategic planning starts with careful assessments to identify critical issues. Norton and Toombs are aware of the potential pitfalls here; namely producers who are used to the “just do it” mentality, but have identified a way to overcome them. By posing challenges as

good indication of how they’ll handle adversity in general. That reaction starts with employees. Set the precedent for employees that a mistake is their opportunity to go above and beyond. A transparent environment will make employees feel more comfortable, which will make producers excited, rather than apprehensive, to engage with your organization again.

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