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Archive for the ‘Business Insurance’ Category

Feedback Friday…Do You Listen to Your Unhappy Customers?

Friday, October 6th, 2017

A regular feature of the CommercialInsurance.net social media is “Feedback Friday”, where we share comments from our customers.

For the most part, we like to focus on what we’re doing right, and it’s easy to do; our approval rating with customers on review site feefo is 4.7 out of 5 stars (over 300 reviews as of this writing). We also offer the option to review us on our Facebook page and on Google+.

When the topic of customer reviews comes up in the office, however, we give equal time–and possibly even more–to the subject of negative feedback.

Bill Gates (who knows a thing or two about business) has famously said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Lots of companies quote this, or stick it on a graphic for their Motivational Monday posts. (We do it too–follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see for yourself!)

Actually putting it into practice can be a different story.

It’s not fun to handle a complaint, or dig down through a customer journey to see what fell through the cracks, but it can’t be slam dunks and high-fives all the time. Just like everyone has bad days, every company–every company–disgruntles someone, at some time.

Does your company talk about negative feedback? As a consumer, how do you process seeing a negative review on a website?

We thought we would share some practices–for both businesses and customers–that we believe make the best use of the feedback from the least satisfied customers.

If You’re a Company

  • Listen. Consider utilizing a service like feefo for allowing a medium for feedback from your customers, if you don’t already. Even if you don’t…pay attention to the complaints your customer service department gets, don’t brush them off and focus only on the compliments.
  • Learn. Examine each complaint. Do “autopsies” when one of your customers leaves, to figure out if something in your business practices needs to be changed, and then do it. One of our standards is that every call is recorded. While the paper trail tells part of the story, if there’s a disconnect between how your employee remembers a conversation, and how the customer is relating it, this can be an invaluable way to figure out what really happened. Every part of the customer journey needs to be traceable, as much as possible. Sometimes, it’s the only way you can really know there was nothing else you could do…or that there are weaknesses in an employee’s performance.
  • Leverage. As crazy as it sounds, your willingness to be transparent about unhappy customers can give you an advantage; honesty is something everyone is looking for when they’re shopping. Research used by review management media company Reevoo states that 95% of shoppers suspect censorship or faked reviews when the comments available to see are only positive. You don’t have to publicize your reviews right away, if you begin using a service and the feedback is bad…but you should use it to fine tune your process, and then begin sharing once you hit the mark reliably.

If You’re a Customer

  • Really Read. If you’re going to utilize reviews as part of your decision making process about things that affect your business, don’t just skim them. Think critically about what you’re seeing, and learn to read between the lines. If a customer complains about a specific issue, look at the company’s response, and try to figure out what might have happened. Does the company’s answer to the complaint make sense? (The best businesses will provide responses about complaints that attempt to shed light on the problem.)
  • Research. Everyone wants their experience to be easy. Top shelf customer service will make it as smooth as possible, and a good company will help you understand processes that might be new to you. However, you shouldn’t abdicate responsibility for decisions, even when you make another entity a trusted partner in your business. A little research goes a long way, and understanding simple terms and concepts about what you’re engaging in will help to forestall some common misunderstandings.
  • Re-evaluate. If you’ve traditionally just glanced at a company’s reviews and went ahead full force when you saw five stars, consider adjusting your decision-making process. Take time to look closely at the reviews. How many are there? How long does the review history go back? How old is the company? Two five star reviews for a year-old company do not tell the same story as 400 reviews for a business in its fifth year with an average of 4.8. Complaints from two years ago may abruptly change at a point in time and show a consistent uptick in ratings to the present day. Evaluate your process for reading reviews and change it if necessary.

Negative reviews aren’t all bad, in other words.

If you’re willing, they can help you search out the business that can best serve you, as a customer. For business-owners, they can be a chance to sharpen your service, and strengthen weaknesses.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Accounting Team

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Every business has a “bottom line”. The last individual CommercialInsurance.net team we’ll showcase for Customer Service Week is our Accounting/Processing Team–the group that makes sure our books are balanced, and that we’re on track, financially, both for our benefit and that of our customers.

Whether it’s recording transactions, managing accounts and bond/policy paperwork, or coordinating benefits, payroll and licensing requirements for agents and other staff, the Accounting/Processing Team provides the behind-the-scenes structure at CommercialInsurance.net. While their duties aren’t customer-facing, the jobs performed by Accounting/Processing are crucial to the operations of our company, and they enable those in more visible service positions to focus on customer service, by making sure that the underpinning of what we do is functioning at its optimum level.

They’re the support behind customer service, and an integral part of the framework that allows us to assist our clientele the way we do.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Service Team

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Our tour of CommercialInsurance.net now turns to the group of people that puts the “Service” into “Customer Service”…the Service Team.

All of the data entry for your policy, after it’s purchased, as well as requests for certificates, your welcome letter and other pertinent documents, are handled by our Service Team.

If there’s a challenge you’re facing with your policy or need service that goes beyond basics, the Service Team is who you’ll talk to–their job is to facilitate the ongoing relationship we have with you, as a valued customer.

The CommercialInsurance.net Service Team also acts as a liaison between you, our client, and the carriers and finance companies that implement your policy. After terms have been settled, the Service Team is the group that makes sure you’re getting what you need.

Call us today at 1-877-907-5267. We’d love the chance to earn your business with our rates…and keep it with the stellar service that our teams provide.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Sales Team

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

For Day 2 of Customer Service Week, we’ll take a look at CommercialInsurance.net’s Sales Team.

While our Traffic Team is the introduction to our company for a potential client, our Sales Team is where the relationship really begins.

A sale is what turns a prospect into a customer; it’s the foundation of everything that comes afterwards. Our agents are the people building that foundation. They determine what’s needed to get the best quote possible, and take the steps to provide coverage if it turns out that we’re a good fit.

After a Traffic representative has made the decision to transfer a customer to a sales agent, the agent will get additional information about the business, answer a customer’s concerns, provide a quote, and close the sale.

Agents on the Sales Team ask questions about the business (after the general qualification process in Traffic), and help customers understand both what they need, and which options are best suited to meet their specific business insurance requirements.

There’s often a negative association with sales, and salespeople are frequently regarded with suspicion (sometimes with good reason), but CommercialInsurance.net is dedicated to cultivating the concept of the agent as both ambassador for our company, and advocate for the customer. Our sales team is on your side; they want your business to have the commercial insurance coverage it needs at a reasonable cost, so that your company can continue to grow.

Hopefully, our relationship with you will grow as your business does.

Call us today and speak to one of our specialists for your business insurance quote at 1-877-907-5267.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Traffic Team

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

In honor of Customer Service Week (October 1 - 6), we’re shining the spotlight on the teams that make up CommercialInsurance.net, and sharing the things they do that make our customer-centric business a success.

The Traffic Team, pictured above, is a natural first stop, since they’re the frontline of customer service at CommercialInsurance.net.

Our business model is a hybrid one, combining technology and insurance sales by providing quotes and quick insurance coverage for businesses via the Internet, and that mix of traditional business with innovation creates a unique working environment with a very special culture. The Traffic Team is the starting point for our customer service, since they’re usually the first contact a potential client has with our company, and they’re also the embodiment of our company’s singularity…we’re different, so we need a Traffic Team, and our Traffic Team personifies that difference.

Our customers are business owners looking for competitive commercial insurance coverage, and they’re often searching for insurance solutions online under a time constraint. A lack of understanding about what type of coverage they need combined with deadlines and demands from clients of their own usually means that when a Traffic Team member answers the phone, the person on the other end of the line isn’t in the greatest of moods. (If you’re unsure what kind of coverage your business requires, visit our page describing Business Insurance Basics).

A good Traffic rep is adept at not taking bad moods personally, and quickly categorizing a customer’s business and its specific needs through the matrix of options we have available, to find just the right fit.

And they do it with a smile.

Analytical software/solutions leader SAS advocates, in their white paper Analytics and the Customer Journey, making sure that your first and best practice is providing a positive start to your customer’s interaction with you.

At CommercialInsurance.net, we’ve established a strong square one in our endeavor to gain your business by creating a Traffic Team that can deftly handle both your stress level and your company’s individual insurance needs.

If You Think You Need (Better) Cyber Insurance…You Probably Do.

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Control is an Option to Command, by Frederico Cintra, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Image credit: Control is an Option to Command, by Frederico Cintra, licensed under CC BY 4.0

In the wake of high-profile data breaches where hackers humble multibillion dollar companies, questions like “Am I vulnerable to something like this?” or “Do I need cyber risk insurance?” inevitably rise in the minds of large and small business owners around the world.

Then they’re promptly forgotten.

Until the next time a similar story is reported on the news. (For example, the recent Equifax horror show.)

If you’re an IT professional in certain industries, you probably have no delusions about cyber risk insurance being a necessity; outside hacks for ransom and/or data breaches from within a company’s ranks are too common, and too costly. It’s a no-brainer.

Even if you’re not a motion picture CEO, or the Google VP, however, you need to be aware of the fact that you may have a cyber target on your back, or weaknesses within your company that could be exploited. A 2016 study by Symantec didn’t have “Movie Studio” or “Technology Giant” listed in the top five businesses affected by ransomware; service industries, manufacturing, finance/insurance, real estate, and public administration showed up as the most targeted. (Entertainment and technology services didn’t even make the top ten list, which included wholesale trade, transportation, communications, and utilities, retail, construction, mining, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing.)

Ransomware is affordable (it can be purchased for less than $2,000.00), and adapting as fast as protective software can be developed; Symantec found 101 new ransomware “families” in 2016. That number represents a 36% increase from previous years. While effective security measures and employee training are good protocols to have in place, a cyber insurance policy could mean the difference between returning to business after a breach, or shutting down.

Hacks for ransom (where a system is compromised and the hackers demand payment to restore it) represent only one type of data breach. Data leaks can be purposeful hacks (as with GoogleTarget, and HBO’s Game of Thrones nightmare), or accidental (like the incident with Whitehead Nursing Home or the mishap with the City of Calgary)…but the resulting public relations nightmares and potential for revenue loss are the same.

Don’t believe for a second that only large businesses are targeted; Symantec’s study found that smaller companies (251-500 employees) are more likely to be targeted by email malware, possibly for the very reason that they’re ill prepared to handle an attack.

As a business insurance sales specialist and the team leader of the INSURICA Insurance Management Network Technology Practice, James Roskopf knows what he’s talking about when he says that it’s a mistake to underestimate cyber risks and the people who perpetrate them.

“You have to remember,” Roskopf says, “That hackers are mean people.”

“A lot of people are still looking at cyber issues as a cost of doing business. If they get attacked with ransomware, they know that the FBI discourages paying hackers, but they also know that paying is the path of least resistance.”

There’s another Symantec statistic that proves Roskopf’s assertion about the cruelty of hackers, and puts to rest the notion that paying the ransom is ultimately less costly than an ongoing monthly insurance premium; only 47% of the victims of ransomware who pay the ransom are found to recover use of their stolen files.

Rather than relying on a criminal’s promise of good faith, a risk management program that includes cyber liability is the best way to forestall a business-ending security breach.

Cyber risk insurance coverage options can be scaled according to your business’s size and needs, and can include a budget for public relations repair if your customer’s data is compromised. Some other costs to consider that a good cyber liability policy can cover:

  • Security fixes and cyber forensics
  • Notification and identity protection for affected customers
  • Libel, copyright or infringement, and defamation (social media posts can take a minute to post, but have a long recovery period)
  • Damages to a third-party system (in case of an accidental virus transmission, for example)
  • System failure; hardware losses due to a natural disaster or malicious destruction would be covered under a commercial property or inland marine policy, but data and code losses would need electronic data protection coverage

Whether you’ve spent years building your business or you’re just starting…you can’t afford a catastrophe. A cyber risk policy for your company could be the safeguard it needs for a long, prosperous life.

Call us today at 1-855-279-9559 to discuss your cyber risk management plan. For the majority of businesses, a quote from an agent is available within five minutes, upon answering a few basic questions about your company.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Reasons Roofing Needs to Be Specifically Covered

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

If you’re a general contractor and do any amount of roof repair, you need to be upfront about it with your agent when discussing your insurance quote.

While it may be tempting to leave out references to the roofing aspects of your work in order to save a little money on your premium, doing so could result in coverage gaps that might leave you in the lurch if damage occurs and a claim is filed.

Some general liability insurance policies for general contracting may include coverage for limited roofing. However, if a customer sustains damages from roof leakage, and your policy doesn’t specify that roof work is covered, you could be on the hook for costs incurred.

Contact us today to find out what coverage you need for your business.

Figuring Out the “Gig” Economy: What Constitutes an Independent Contractor?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

The rise in recent years of for-hire business models, like those used for driving services Uber and Lyft, and delivery services like Instacart and Postmate, have put the term “independent contractor” under the microscope.

High profile liability issues (like the class action lawsuit that former drivers are filing against Uber) are only one aspect of the confusion; not only do employers need to understand their obligations towards the different types of workers they hire, but aspiring entrepreneurs should have a handle on what kind of risks and rewards are associated with self-employment.

The IRS has suggestions for defining characteristics that determine whether or not a worker is an employee or independent contractor…

  • - Who controls details of how the work is done?
  • - Who is responsible for negotiating the business aspects of the worker’s job?
  • - Who provides the worker’s benefits? (Vacation, insurance, pension, etc.)

The most basic distinction, tax-wise, between an employee and an independent contractor is that an employer is generally held responsible for withholding income taxes from an employee’s wages, but not for those of an independent contractor. Workers who are hired as independent contractors are often called “1099s”, a reference to the year end tax form they receive. (As opposed to “W2 employees”, who fill out a W2 for their employers and have taxes withheld by them).

But there are distinctions between the two types of workers that have ramifications in the insurance world, as well.

While the IRS may accept your choice to classify a worker as a subcontractor who receives a 1099 from you at the end of the year, if that same worker is injured on the job, or the subject of a lawsuit, it’s the Department of Labor who will determine if the individual is an employee or a subcontractor, regardless of which tax form they’ve been receiving from you.

And if the decision is that they are truly an employee, instead of an independent contractor, you will be held responsible for all medical costs, lost wages, future lost wages, etc, regardless of who has been paying their employment taxes.

The “bottom line” is always a factor in business decisions, and while the short term benefit of not having to pay employment taxes may sway business owners towards a preference for classifying workers as independent contractors, the potential for liability and associated costs should motivate the final decision about how to categorize the people they hire.

In fact, insurance costs for standard employees may actually be lower than those for subcontractors in some cases, although rates will vary from business to business and state to state.

For the individual who is trying to determine what the best status for them would be, the same elements of cost and risk should be weighed.

While the freedom to regulate the amount and type of work taken is a great benefit, independent contractors should also remember that they will shoulder the responsibility for damages or personal injury, and weigh out those costs against the perks of self-employment.

Getting specifics about insurance coverage from anyone hiring you as a subcontractor is highly advised, and keeping a policy in place for yourself that covers you in case of injury or damages could help forestall future financial disasters.

Call one of our specialists today (1-877-907-5267) or use the orange quote box above to find quotes for both worker’s compensation and general liability policies for small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs.

Employee Benefits Liability Coverage

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Employee benefits liability coverage is just what it sounds like: It covers the company against errors or omissions which were made about an employee’s benefit plans.

This kind of coverage is usually an endorsement on another policy such as the commercial general liability policy, but it can be a stand-along policy .

Most claims revolve around clerical errors wherein the employee is not added, added to the wrong benefits, or deleted from coverages. Errors which happen in advice to an employee about a particular benefit or mistakes in calculating the amounts of contributions of the employer or employee are also covered by employee benefits liability coverage.

Such errors are usually in the Human Resources Department, though they can also come from record-keepers, accountants, and trustees.

Here are a few scenarios:

A new employee chooses her benefits in the group medical plan, but the paperwork gets lost at some point after she has finished it. No one notices that it became lost, and there is nothing to trigger an alarm that such a thing happened.

Once the initial enrollment period has passed, the employee is stuck with no health coverage until next open enrollment.

Of course, this in itself is actionable, but if the employee has a chronic illness or has an accident, this becomes crucial, and the company will have to come up with a way to settle the problem.

Employee benefits liability insurance is among the least expensive kinds of coverage, particularly if it is an endorsement. It should, however, be part of your portfolio risk management strategy. Be sure to bring this issue up with your licensed insurance professional.

Employee Practices Liability Coverage

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Statistics suggest that three out of five companies will be sued by an employee or former employee — or even someone who interviewed but never became an employee — at some time. That would suggest that anyone who has a business should consider that it is not out of the question that they could be a target.

Employment practices liability is a newcomer to the insurance coverage world. It provides the employer, directors, officers, and business protection against claims which are made by employees, potential employees, or former employees.

Such claims include wrongful termination, sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, emotional distress, false imprisonment, and wage and hour law violations. It also covers discrimination, whether racial, sex, age, disability, or any other unlawful discrimination, and other employment-related accusations or law suits.

It might be something you or your managers or supervisors are accused of doing or saying, or it may be over an off-color joke someone told in the break room. Or it might be something that a disgruntled employee has exaggerated. Any

As a business owner, you will want to have employment practices liability coverage before you hire your first employee.

All companies are vulnerable, whether small or huge, and even a groundless suit can cause major damage in financial resources, and time if the company is not covered.

If you plan to have have one single employee or 5,000, you will want to look into employment practices liability insurance. Be sure to talk to your licensed insurance professional about what levels of EPL you should have.