Working Through Difficult Times

As we all know, there have been many changes in how we conduct business and in our day to day life during these challenging times. These changes in procedures may make it difficult for both the business and public citizens to continue to meet the obligations to others.

The staff at the Iowa FAIR Plan Association has adapted to the necessary changes needed so we may continue to provide the outstanding service to our producers and policyholders that they have come to expect. We reached out to a few of our producers so they could share their experiences and thoughts on how they have faced this difficult situation. Perhaps your office has encountered some of the same dilemmas.

Ann Wilbanks, Weilbrenner Inc., Allstate Insurance, Ottumwa, IA

We have remained in the office however we kept the office closed to the public until about a month ago. Customers were not pleased with doing business strictly over the phone or through our mail slot. Being a smaller town, I believe our biggest attraction to our customers is our service and personal relationships. With the closed- door policy, our personal touch was hindered greatly. Doing business over the phone or internet results in less sales and I feel as if it is a disservice, although this is the “new” way.

We are currently open, requesting that people wear a mask, and we don’t allow anyone at our desk(s). I am amazed at how many people are not wearing masks. I have found my patience for these people is all but gone and I am struggling with less enjoyment and motivation right now.

Nicole Peterson, Kennedy Insurance Agency Inc., Washington, IA

Initially we did close the door and I worked from home. While I have been back at the office since June, I still have phone calls from clients that don’t realize I am at the office. With that said, I feel as if our service to the majority of our clients did not suffer from the decision to temporarily work offsite. I have seen a greater portion of our clientele move to more digital communication. We have started offering e-sign services by utilizing a digital subscription service. Our office site is open for drop off payments and quick routine services, but we try to manage traffic flow by making appointments for those needing more time or new clients. We also have a payment drop box for people wanting no contact options. Plus, my desk has a plexus-glass divider shield across it. Foot traffic flow in our office has slowed with the current situation but with our office size of two employees, traffic through the door was minimal to begin with. I find I was forced to become more efficient and utilize the available technology to my benefit. As the situation has forced several to use alternate communication methods for the first time, I think now that they have overcome that initial step, they will continue to use it to their advantage. I feel several of the technology changes we implemented will still be a part of our normal day as we move forward in the years to come.

Jill Hatfield, Fred Gilbert Agency, Ottumwa, IA

We have basically tried to continue business “as normal” in our small office of just 3 people.  Of course, we have made changes like trying to wear masks when we answer the front door and sanitizing desks and counters, etc. after visitors.  I have also moved to the back room rather than sitting at our receptionist desk full time like I have for 9+ years.

Overall, we really feel like we have embraced the changes to our daily business routine.  We actually feel somewhat more focused and productive.   We have tried to take advantage of the opportunity to be more connected with our clients since the pandemic started because some of them have been more accessible because they are working from home.

Most of the agencies in our area have locked their doors and worked from home or behind closed doors.  It’s actually been an opportunity for us, and we’ve gained a few customers because of being open and willing to meet with people.  We basically give people a choice of how to communicate or meet with us.  Everyone seems to have their own preferences.

So far, we feel pretty comfortable with how we’ve handled the changes and we look forward to continuing to adjust as needed to keep our customers and each other healthy and safe.


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