Outstanding CSR of the Year 2015—Erin Woodard’s Winning Essay

Erin Woodard

By Erin Woodard, CIC, CRM, CISR, ACSR

When I started working in the insurance industry on June 5, 2000, I had no idea what was in store for me in my career path, or honestly, if I would even excel at it. You see, I had just graduated from college with a degree in Child Development and Family Relationships. To say I was nervous was an understatement but the excitement soon overtook! I was set to begin work as a Producer for Sentry Insurance. Insurance experience? I had none. Customer service and relationship building experience? I had vast experience! While in high school and college, I had advanced through several positions at Randall’s Grocery store. I started out as a cashier, later moving to Assistant Manager of the Customer Service Desk and finally ending my work as a Pharmacy Technician. I dealt with hundreds of customers a day; handling problems, addressing needs and making sure my customers left happy and with what they needed. Thus, I took that experience to my new role as an Insurance Producer.

Being a producer for Sentry Insurance, I handled the customer experience from the initial cold call, through the sale, to servicing my clients throughout the year. I didn’t have a support person or staff to assist me, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I believe that position taught me the customer service skills I would need in my in my now position of 11 years of Marketing and Servicing Executive at William Gammon Insurance.

When I began at William Gammon Insurance, my official title was as an Account Manager. I no longer was a producer. I must be honest when I say that carrying the title of Account Manager gave me a little pep in my step! I managed something? I had never been an official manager but I felt the title gave me a sense of ownership over my accounts and the relationships I was developing. I took that passion in managing my book of business as if I was the producer on the accounts. I developed many relationships that I still have today even though I am no longer assigned to their accounts.

When I began taking insurance continuing education classes, I would often fill out registration forms. It wasn’t until I took a class with The National Alliance that I selected ‘CSR’ as my title/position. The title of Account Manager was not an option I could choose. This is when the true meaning of Customer Service Representative began to take shape for me. At first, I thought it ‘lessened’ my ownership of my accounts as I thought I did so much more than provide customer service to my clients. And I do. However, as the years have rolled on, I have become more confident in the usage of CSR to describe my role within the agency.

Two years ago, our agency changed its workflows and subsequently, our titles changed as well. Gone were the days of Account Manager and my title was now replaced with Marketing/Servicing Executive. Many of my industry colleagues now were utilizing the term of Account Executive as their title. I even approached my boss about utilizing the term Account Executive in my business emails and business cards. I was advised that, within our agency, the Account Executive title was used more closely to describe a producer. Since I no longer carry any producer roles, I agreed it was best to maintain the Marketing/Servicing Executive title. After all, even though my official title was changing after 9 years at William Gammon Insurance, the actual work I would be doing on a daily basis had absolutely no change. At the beginning and the end of each work day, I was there to service my clients. To build and maintain relationships with my customers. To act as the liaison between clients and the insurance companies.

Do I believe the varying titles mean anything different to me? To my clients? To my customers? To my overall ability? Of course not! The success and/or failure are entirely left as my responsibility and a direct result of my commitment and dedication. A title doesn’t define me. Nor, does it define how or why I will work for my clients and companies. Sure, when a new customer comes on board, they may see my title and/or designations and form their own opinions as to whether or not I will be capable of handling their account. However, I hope my clients soon grow to realize that no matter what my title, I will always put forth my absolute best to make sure their needs are met. If you asked one of my longtime clients, I am quite sure none of them would even know what my title was or is. I hope they would say I got the job done and maybe we even had some fun along the way! The same would hold true with my colleagues as well. I often have industry colleagues call me and ask for assistance on many issues. I hope this is because they know I will always help out no matter what account or if it falls under my current role. It is this very reason, I believe, the core success or failure of my position rests with me.

I could come to work at 8am and leave at 5pm. However, I don’t believe my job ends when the clock says so. It is my duty and privilege to handle what needs to be handled in the best way possible for all involved. Dating back to my work days of working at Randall’s, I developed the core understanding of the importance of customer service. To this day, and every day going forward, I will continue to offer the best customer service to my clients and have the forefront of how and why I work the way I do.

Erin Woodard, CIC, CRM, CISR, ACSR
National Outstanding CSR of the Year, 2015
William Gammon Insurance

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