Customer Service Representatives are the backbone of the independent insurance agency. They must possess a multitude of skills to juggle tasks, stay informed and foster relationships.
Every year, The National Alliance celebrates the professionalism, expertise and development within the industry’s CSR community and presents the Outstanding CSR of the Year award®.
This award is given to an exceptional insurance professional who has distinguished him- or herself through exceptional commitment and contributions to the insurance industry. The competition is open to any insurance customer service representative or insurance professional who is primarily responsible for customer service.
Applications for the 2020 Outstanding CSR of the Year have opened. Nominees compete at their state level to become one of five finalists nationwide. Please click below for application details.
The Essential CSR
To be successful, what are the top five things every CSR should do?
We asked Mary Katherine Henderson, CIC, 2019 National CSR of the Year; Jeremiah Gonzales, 2019 Texas CSR of the Year; and Dustyne Bryant, 2011 Arkansas CSR of the Year what they thought.
- Never quit learning. Henderson says to take the time to read carrier emails, sign up for continuing education classes, and ask coworkers for advice and help. Our industry changes daily, so keeping informed is a never-ending process. Bryant agrees: “Seek education beyond the fundamentals.” She adds that obtaining designations like Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) are essential to being proficient in servicing insurance accounts.
- Have empathy. Gonzales says that being empathetic not only helps CSRs understand people on a deeper level, but also elevates their level of service at work. “At times, we may view interactions with clients as transactions, but it’s important to remember that our insureds are real people — not just numbers on a screen. When you show empathy, you gain a more compassionate perspective and build trustworthy relationships with insureds.”
- Work collaboratively. “Don’t go it alone!” advises Bryant. Work collaboratively with the team around you to find solutions to tricky coverage issues or generate a plan for trending market challenges. Newer CSRs might even offer fresh views on emerging problems leading to the discovery of creative solutions. Collaborative work will build your working knowledge and skill to proficient levels quicker than any textbook alone.
- Be trustworthy and reliable. Reliability can go hand-in-hand with strong organizational skills. But Gonzales says that “as a CSR, it’s imperative to set expectations and trust between you and your insured, so they know that they can count on you in those situations where time is not a luxury.” If you are not reliable and dependable, the relationship between your insured and your agency can deteriorate quickly, which could lead to loss of business.
- Cultivate relationships with carrier contacts. A CSR will naturally develop contacts with carriers, including carrier representatives, underwriters, and claims adjusters. Bryant advises that “obtaining and fostering carrier relationships (at all levels) with intention is not only important to providing clients with the highest level of service but also enhances the agency’s value and reputation.”
Do you excel in these five skills? Even if you do, there’s still room to grow because many skills define a successful CSR. What are best skills as a CSR?
If you or someone you know is an exceptional CSR, we invite you to apply for the 2020 Outstanding CSR of the Year award.