Today I got the news that a long term client of mine passed away over the weekend. Every business owner gets these calls, and we empathize over the phone with the family member who is calling to inform us.
However, it occurred to me this morning as I looked online for the funeral details, that unlike 1-800 number agencies, we have a real connection and relationship with our clients. In my 30 years in this industry, I’ve been to a number of client funerals, had flowers and gifts sent to clients experiencing a difficult claim, and recall vividly delivering a life insurance check to a grieving mother who has now outlived her husband and all 3 children. Ann was my first life insurance claim, and I stopped to purchase a gift (a scarf of lighthouses) to deliver to her with the check to hopefully provide a smile to her during such a difficult time, just to let her know how deeply sorry I was for her loss. We both stood in her driveway and just cried together. How many ‘lizard’ agents can say the same thing of clients who contact them via a toll free # ? I can tell you – zero. They are rarely even in the same state as their client.
Those of us who live and work in the same communities where we have our insurance agencies are blessed to be able to truly build relationships with our insureds. I am incredibly honored to say that a dozen or so clients, who were assigned to this very young and very inexperienced agent back in 1988, chose to follow me to another agency I went to work for in 1992, and then followed me again in 2004 when I ventured into the unknown and opened my very own agency from scratch. (I knoooow, Crazy huh?) – Fortunately for them, I actually knew what I was doing, or at least I pretended to until I figured it all out!
Long Insurance could not be more grateful that we have so many clients who have remained loyal for so many years. We are incredibly honored that we continue to have a much, much higher than average referral rate of clients who refer their friends, coworkers and family to us on a continual basis. Those clients deserve to work with an agency that is staffed with people who really care about them and are physically there to help with confusing payment issues, difficult claims or coverage questions.
As I take a moment to remember all the meetings I had with this client who is no longer with us, I am proud that I knew him; that I took the time over the years to send a note of congratulations for the first grandchild, called to check on how he was doing with his cancer treatment, and took the time to just drive out to their home to meet with him and his wife a couple of times each year.
At Long Insurance, we believe Richard Branson’s words: “If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business – it’s that simple.