Don’t Lose It, When You Lose It: Remain Professional after Losing an Account

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By Ruth E. Phillips, CIC, CISR, CSRM, AAI, ACSR, AINS, API, AIS, CPIW, CPSR, MLIS

What are the four words a CSR never wants to hear from their producer? “We lost the account!” Those are dreaded words; especially after the CSR spent time and energy making sure the renewal offer was perfect so the producer could present it to the client. How can you remain professional and ethical when you lose a client?

First, always remain professional. Remember to be pleasant and keep the smile on your face. Even though you are dealing with a client who is leaving, you need to remain polite. It is always important to keep the professional attitude. The client doesn’t need to hear how you spent weeks working on getting him the best quote – honestly, he probably doesn’t care – after all, that is your job. You are expected to meet the client’s needs and to prepare him the best renewal offer possible. Even though the account may be lost – you still need to be professional. You never want to degrade the agent or company who won the account. An ethical CSR and agent will never spread lies about an agency, agent, or company in order to keep an account. Don’t be offensive.

Second, don’t take it personally. The producer and the agency lost the account. You, as an individual, did not lose the account. Sometimes, we get so focused on our work that we forget to separate what we do from who we are. Sometimes we can take things personally. It is important to remember that the client left the agency for reasons that were related to insurance. The client may be non-renewing his policy for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with insurance or work – he may have some personal or financial issues. It is important to not take the news personally. Some CSRs may feel like they failed or they may be upset. The CSR did not fail. It was a business decision of the client. The non-renewal is not a reflection on you as an individual. It is natural to feel angry – but you need to let go of that anger and be a professional. Turn that anger into energy and learn what you can from the situation.

Next, make sure you know the exact reason why the client did not renew with your agency. Did the client find a better price? Was it a better deductible? Were they able to finance the premium? Was it higher limits? It is important that the producer, or the CSR, find out exactly why the client left. It is even better if you can find out what insurance company the client is moving to. When the client is speaking to you, make sure you are actively listening to him. Repeat back to him what was said to make sure it was understood. For example, “So, you are moving to ABC Company because they were able to offer a premium of $1,000 less than mine.” Make sure that this conversation gets documented in the agency management system. The producer or the CSR should always thank the client for their past business and remind them that you are there for any of their future insurance needs. Just because the door is shutting now, doesn’t mean it will not open later.

If it is not too late, the producer may want to see if the account can be salvaged. The underwriter may be contacted to see if there is anything that can be done to save the account. Deductibles may be lowered or raised, exclusions removed or added, or credits and debits applied. Sometimes these efforts can save an account and show the insured that the agency does care about the account. During this step, the CSR will have to pay special attention and make sure all communications get documented.

Finally, review your renewal steps for this account:

  • Did you follow your agency procedures for the renewal process?
  • Did you review with the producer any problems the account may have, such as claims history or price increases?
  • Did you look at other options such as moving to a new company?
  • Did you explore all options?
  • Do you feel like you did everything you could to keep the account in your agency?

Insurance is a business and sometimes transactions don’t get made. It is disappointing when that happens. Hopefully, your client found a reputable company that is ethical and professional.

Remember, just because you lost the account this year – does not mean that the account is gone forever. Policies renew every year and there is always a chance that you can earn the client back. Business consultant Terry Corbell says, “Eighteen percent of all Americans will only buy the cheapest product, so it’s important to target the other 82 percent of people.” So, if your client left because of price only, then he may come back. Especially if the service and coverage was better with you. Studies have shown that it is easier to get a lost customer to come back than it is to acquire a new customer! In addition, people always remember others who treat them kind and with respect. That client may recommend his or her friends to you. While losing the account is a disappointment, you should take this time to look at it as a way to improve. Look at the situation to find out what you could have done better and take something positive away from the experience.

Losing an account can cause a CSR to have a sinking feeling – especially when a lot of work was spent on the client. It is always important to remember that the CSR is not at fault and not to take it personally. CSRs should always remain professional and ethical when dealing with the client. Losing a client should always be a learning opportunity for the CSR. Above all, a CSR should always remain the constant professional.


Ruth E. Phillips, CIC, CISR, CSRM, AAI, ACSR, AINS, API, AIS, CPIW, CPSR, MLIS, is a licensed property and casualty agent and customer service representative for Insurance and Risk Managers in McComb, Mississippi. She has received several industry awards including, most recently, the 2006 PIA National Customer Service Representative of the Year.

For information on The National Alliance CSR of the Year Award or the CISR program, go to: www.TheNationalAlliance.com

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