How Ericson Insurance Advisors Maintained an Incredible Standard of Service Delivery – All While Shifting to a Remote Workforce
It’s that time again. The time where we take a special moment to brag about the awesome achievements of our customers. Not only is it fun to celebrate their work, but hopefully an exciting read for you, as you begin to learn the incredible transformations that are possible for your business.
Ericson Insurance Advisors is a personal and business insurance advisory targeting high-net individuals. With teams in Connecticut, New York, Boston, and Florida, their tight-knit team is dedicated to providing tailored insurance programs to the unique needs of their clientele.
Approaching 100 years of business, Ericson made the shift to a fully remote workforce. It was a shift that came with a lot of understandable uncertainties – how could they keep their team motivated and focused? How could they create a connected and trusting workplace culture? How could they ensure superior customer service, that they relied on for repeat business and referrals, was being delivered?
These were all questions that Spencer M. Houldin, President of Ericson Insurance needed absolute certainty on before making the shift permanent.
Going, and Staying Remote
Like most businesses during the pandemic, the team at Ericson packed up their desks, set up their monitors at home, and began making endless batches of sourdough. Their team had to quickly adapt to what was a scary and uncertain time, continuing to provide sound advice and superior service to their customers. But as the world slowly returned to ‘normalcy’, Ericson decided to stay remote. Their employees had more freedom and flexibility, commute times were slashed and they knew that with the right tools and technology, their teams could stay connected, supported and empowered to deliver awesome customer experiences, every time. They just needed to figure out what those tools and technologies were.
The Catalyst to Measuring Customer Experience
Ericson Insurance had never had specific systems in place to help them coach their customer-facing teams, or to create consistency in the standard of service they provided customers. Without the help of useful data sources or automation, they were forced to rely on guess work and disjointed training and management to keep things moving.
Regardless of remote or in-office, Spencer knew that finding a solution for both frontline employee experience and customer experience could help Ericson get ahead of the curve, but permanently shifting to a remote workforce was the catalyst. He knew that without either, and with his team physically disconnected, both his employee and customer experience would suffer.
Starting Point: Ad Hoc, Reactive Feedback
Before AskNicely, Ericson had no customer feedback system in place. Occasionally, Spencer would receive negative feedback that would be manually routed back to managers and client advisors if something went wrong.
“We got feedback on a reactive basis, not a proactive basis” – Spencer M. Houldin
While Spencer and his frontline team had a gut feeling about what customers felt about them, they didn’t have any substantial proof. Client advisors had next to no feedback on what they were doing well individually, and what they could do more of. Spencer knew that this lack of feedback and direction was costly, especially when working in a remote environment.
Here’s the situation
With their existing setup Ericson Insurance had:
- Limited ability to predict and control customer retention.
Without a clear idea of what customers loved the most, and least about the experience they recieved, Ericson had no data on why customers were leaving, and what they could do to prevent churn. Similarly, they had limited data on what made customers stick around, and what their client advisors could do more of.
- Inconsistent service delivery across client advisors.
The gap between awesome and awful is in the hands of the people delivering the service to customers. Without clear service standards in place, and no solution to help coach client advisors remotely, those advisors were flying blind. This meant the customer experience Ericson delivered was often inconsistent across different branches and advisors.
- Inability to coach for specific improvements.
Without regular customer feedback, Ericson could only rely on gut feelings, past experience and generalizations. This meant that advisors never got immediate feedback on their work, and received little to no evidence-based coaching that was specific to them.
- Limited ability to leverage awesome experiences.
When awesome customer experiences did happen, Ericson had a limited ability to leverage those experiences to gain referrals or create blueprints for their team to learn from.
The New Normal: Remote & Customer Obsessed
Transitioning from an in-office to a remote workforce is no easy feat. Yet, somehow Ericson managed to keep their team motivated and focused, and keep everyone pointed towards their ultimate goal of excellent customer service.
A New Level of Feedback Mastery
Using AskNicely, Ericson rapidly made the shift from limited negative feedback, to real-time, proactive feedback that their frontline associates could use to guide the experiences they were delivering from afar.
Starting with a kick off session lead by the AskNicely customer success team, Ericson was able to quickly integrate with their CRM, configure the platform for their needs and then kick off a training series with their customer facings teams.
The AskNicely team then helped them deliver a cohesive message about the program and how to communicate with customers, and guided them on what it means for a business to implement new service standards.
Advisors went from having the occasional negative review to having daily customer feedback that helped them understand exactly what their customers cared about the most. They were able to fine-tune experiences for their clients, and ultimately deliver superior service.
Coaching on What Matters
Using real-time customer insights, Ericson could coach their advisors to deliver on the things they knew their customers cared about the most, not what they thought their customers cared about the most. Through this, they gained the ability to predict and control their customer retention rates.
“We thought: hey, we think we’re great but don’t have any critical data to solidify that. Now with AskNicely, we know exactly what customers love and coach with that in mind” – Spencer M. Houldin
When you consider that coaching on exactly what the customer cares about provides a 60% higher ROI on coaching on industry knowledge, you can start to see the impacts that this shift had on the Ericson team, and the bottom line.
Making Time for Recognition
Not only were Ericson client advisors equipped with the feedback and coaching conversations they needed to improve the customer experience, but they were also recognized and celebrated for awesome work when it happened, reinforcing positive behavior and improving employee satisfaction.
It’s easy to let recognition fall through the cracks with a remote team. Employees can’t see and experience your smiles, appreciative body language and friendly tone through a screen, so extra effort to ensure your employees feel valued, seen and appreciated is needed.
As well as seeing positive feedback in real-time, Ericson holds a remote all-firm meeting every two weeks where they take time to recognize and celebrate the employees with great AskNicely scores.
“Positive reinforcement is super powerful” – Spencer M. Houldin
If you’ve read the Seven Habits of Empowered Frontline Teams, you’ll know of the power that Spencer is referring to. Through regularly recognizing achievements, Ericson built up employee satisfaction, pride and efficiency.
A World Class NPS
Since implementing AskNicely, Ericson has been able to coach and empower each remote client advisor to reach a world class NPS score of 90 and above. Yes, nine-zero. With a remote team (🤯). In the last two years they have connected their teams to real-time feedback, coached them on what matters most to their customers and given their frontline associates the recognition they deserve. All while scaling and translating to a remote workforce.
- Each team member has oversight on what they’re nailing and what they can work on. Team meetings have become a chance to celebrate awesome customer feedback and learn from their wins.
- Managers can identify common themes of promoters and detractors, and coach their teams based on data-driven results instead of relying on gut feelings.
- Client advisors receive regular recognition and rewards for doing great work, reinforcing behaviors and improving the employee experience.
- Ericson can see which customers are their biggest promoters, and set up workflows to personally thank and reward them.
Before using AskNicely, a big question loomed over Spencer and his team: Would the Ericson team be able to deliver the superior level of customer experience they relied on for repeat business and referrals, all while working remotely? With AskNicely, the answer to that question is a confident and clear YES.
Instead of relying on gut feelings, Ericson were able to quantifiably measure their customer experience and engage their entire employee base from managers down to the technicians, building a customer-obsessed culture.
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