Managing Expectations: How to Reduce Errors
June 24, 2021
Developing a reputation for professionalism and competence while guiding the client through the insurance process can go a long way in either deterring an E&O claim or mitigating its effects.
Essential to this is managing client expectations and business reality. Often viewed as an undervalued skill, being able to manage clients’ expectations can go a long way to establish confidence and trust in the broker – client relationship.
Here are six steps that will help brokers manage their clients’ expectations:
1) Get everyone on the same page
You can’t manage expectations if you don’t know what they are. Clear communication and setting a shared baseline help define expectations and whether they can be met.
2) Explain the process
Don’t assume that your client knows what will happen. Explain what to expect and when they can expect it to happen. Confirm that an underwriter might still have questions and that the client should prepare themselves for this. If there’s a time crunch, advise the client to keep themselves available to meet deadlines. It’s perfectly acceptable to let the client know that follow up may be required for any unanswered questions. Keep promises to a minimum. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver.
3) Explain your commitment to communication
In a new relationship where trust has not yet been earned, communication is essential and remember it’s the little things that matter. Use your out of office email setting if you are unavailable. Try and commit to responding to client communication in a regular manner, while establishing frequent check-ins with clients. All of these allow the broker to provide and receive updates and validates your commitment.
4) What happens if plans change?
Plan for contingencies. Failing to meet a promised deadline may cause issues but you must keep clients abreast of any delays. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also continues to build on the client-broker foundation. Remember Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Advise the client that unforeseen contingencies may occur. Knowing that these may occur helps them to adjust their expectations that things always go smoothly. They just need to know that you’re prepared for these setbacks and that you will keep them in the loop.
5) Be transparent about your skills, knowledge and access to products
This is always difficult for brokers but you must be honest about what you can do and what you can’t do for the client. If the client is okay with you learning with them, that’s fine but the client deserves to know what limitations you have relating to their needs.
6) Pushing back is okay
Are you comfortable with the client’s expectations? Are they realizable? If not, tell them. Being open about this will go a long way to building trust.
Managing expectations is not an exact science. But establishing a baseline of what is expected, keeping communications lines open, and being transparent can go a long way to solidifying the client-broker relationship and limit E&O exposures.