Navigating Obstacles to Go the Extra Mile for Clients

Navigating Obstacles Blog Image SizeGoing the extra mile is a well-known staple of good customer service, but sometimes that mile is not a direct route. It requires working around obstacles and pushing through resistance to deliver it.

When an agency owner we worked with passed away recently, she left a sizable portfolio of bond policies without a licensed agent to continue servicing them. At the request of the owner’s estate, which did not want to continue the business, we reached out to an agent from a nearby firm we also had a working relationship with, and offered that agent right of first refusal to take over servicing those bonds with Old Republic Surety. There would be no sale involved, merely a basic transfer from the discontinued agency to this one, pending the approval of the clients affected.

The clients universally approved, but implied in that approval was that little to nothing would change. ORS would still be their public surety; however, their account would be serviced by a different firm going forward, and that firm was local to the clients’ area. There would be no issues with service or getting questions answered.

Still, there were some bumps in the road. The dissolved agency used direct billing for all of its renewals, while the agency taking over the bond clients was a family business that had been operated a certain way for years. Their policy renewals were billed to the firm, and invoices were then physically mailed out by the owner’s wife who handled the accounting. The agency wanted to continue to service the new bond clients in the same manner; however, that would lead to confusion and dissatisfaction.

We explained that direct billing would free the owner’s wife from processing renewals billed to the agency, subsequently billing customers, and then following up delinquencies with cancellation notices. She could focus on the property and casualty side of the business, which was their forte. The bond business, we pointed out, would bring in a nice premium and if set up properly, would manage itself: No one would have to call, send emails, put actual invoice letters in the mail, or follow up. Direct bills would either be paid or not paid. Most of the unpaid bonds would be canceled a week or two after the renewal date.

The transition wasn’t merely a matter of paperwork; it also required involving our underwriter, which we were happy to do. After some considerable back and forth that stretched on for more than a year, the agency owner agreed to switch all bonds to direct bill.

Beyond the resolution of the logistical challenges to the transfer, we have provided ongoing support and guidance to the agency taking on the bond clients, including educating new staff members or offering assistance with inquiries.

We navigated the bumps and detours, ensuring a smooth transition for policyholders. For us, clear communication and transparency are paramount in reassuring customers that their needs will continue to be met without disruption.

Jimmy Mallis

Jimmy Mallis is a Senior Surety Marketing Representative at Old Republic Surety . His background is within the surety industry, insurance industry, and real estate. Jimmy obtained his Bachelor of Arts in History from the Virginia Military Institute.