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In the world of “customer experience,” formerly known as “customer service,” what’s the difference between outside-in and inside-out?

insideout2Inside-out thinking for your agency means your focus is on the agencies processes, systems, and insurance products that are designed and implemented based on internal thinking and intuition. You and your agency are focused on how you see the situation. The customer’s needs and perspectives do not play a part in this type of thinking; they aren’t taken into consideration. You make decisions because YOU think it’s what’s best for the business, or you think you know what’s best for customers. This is inside-out thinking.

Outside-in thinking means that you look at your business/agency from the customer’s perspective and subsequently design processes (for example an email marketing system to survey your clients), tools (such as a mobile app), and products, and you make decisions based on what’s best for the customer and what meets the customer’s needs instead of focusing on your agency’s needs. You make decisions because you know it’s what’s best for your customers. Why? Simply put, because you listen to and understand them and their financial situation. Because of this, you can make the proper recommendations for them.

insideout1It might be inside-out thinking when there’s a conscious decision to make people, process, policy or other changes that:

  1. Don’t improve the customer experience at the same time
  2. Are about maximizing agency returns/commissions
  3. Improve internal efficiencies to the detriment of customer interactions
  4. Are cost-cutting measures that also negatively impact the customer experience

By contrast, outside-in thinking flips each of those points on its head and looks like this. There’s a conscious decision to make processes, policies, personnel, systems, or other changes that:

  1. Improve the customer experience at the same time
  2. Are about maximizing benefits for the customer and their family
  3. Improve internal efficiencies known to be pain points when executing customer interactions – making insurance fun and easy
  4. Are cost-cutting measures that significantly improve the customer experience and makes it more convenient
  5. Having the right processes, policies, people, and tools in place, because you’ve listened to customer feedback and know how your customers are affected

It’s clear and there is no surprise that outside-in thinking is the way to go for every agency. It leads to a number of results, none of which you’ll get by making decisions that are not focused on customer satisfaction. The results you can find with outside-in thinking include:

  • reduced complaints
  • increased satisfaction, and customer experience
  • increased referrals, which only comes from a great customer experience
  • increased policy case rate in each household
  • improved ease of doing business with your agency
  • customer convenience
  • allow customers to self service or the ability to have that option
  • having the right attitude
  • having a great first impression whether it’s on the phone or face-to-face

These translate to reduced agency costs and increased revenue.insideout4

How can we ensure our that our insurance agency is operating in an outside-in manner? Here are some tips that our agency follows.

  • Set expectations for each and every client and on each and every phone call, such as how our agency has laid out a set of Paradiso Promises for each customer
  • Ask the right questions
  • Listen to our customers and what they are saying
  • Use that understanding to develop products for the customer, products that solve their problems and help them accomplish their goals
  • Listen to customers at all key touchpoints and ask them for feedback. We send out 2 surveys per year to each and every customer
  • Act on what you hear from them
  • Share the feedback and ensure it’s used throughout your agency to make decisions and to design the best experience for your customers
  • Always do right by the customer; ask “Is this decision what’s best for the customer?”
  • Reduce the customers effort and energy rather than making the experience convoluted and confusing. Ease of doing business
  • Have an email/digital marketing map to help the customer understand who and what your agency stands for,this also allows you and your agency to stay in front of your customers all year long.
  • Have an agency app that allows your customers to be receive service 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • Have Saturday and evening hours and please don’t close for lunch. Customers need us to work around their hours

The customer’s voice needs to be incorporated into all decisions your agency makes, along with their design and development. Each and every one of our agencies need to incorporate the customer throughout our organization’s “DNA.” And we should always remember, we may have to go back and tweak things here and there, and that’s the sign of a great agency leader, knowing that there’s always room for improvement. Change will continue, and those that adapt quickly will come out ahead.