The Ontario Broker - August 2019 - 10

CSR SOS: BECOME AN INSTANT EXPERT
BY JEFF TOTH, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST, IBAO

I

n this article series we
look outside the insurance
industry to find solutions for
the everyday problems that
face front-line brokers.

Alex Lamore has been a
Commercial Lines CSR at R.J.
Brown Insurance Brokers for
five years.
"On the Commercial side, one
of the biggest challenges you
face is all the industry-specific
knowledge you need to know
for each client. To figure out
what coverages they need, you
have to be aware of what they're
talking about, understand their
jargon and terminology, know
what all their services are, what
types of equipment they have
and what all of it does. There's a
lot to keep up on.
"If you don't have the correct
information, you'll either get
a false quote or a quote that
doesn't quite cover it. Or the
companies will come back with
more questions and you'll end
up in an ongoing back and forth.
It can be very time consuming.
Our time is best spent serving
the client rather than dealing
with underwriting departments."
It's been said that journalists are
an inch deep and a mile wide-
meaning that, like brokers,
they have to know a little bit
about everything. If they have
to write a story on a topic they
know nothing about, they
have to acquire fluency on the
topic as fast as possible. Enter
award-winning Canadian Press
journalist, Adina Bresge.

AUGUST 2019

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE TO QUICKLY GAIN
BASE-LEVEL UNDERSTANDING OF A NEW
TOPIC?

I rely on the wisdom of others. The best way to catch yourself
up quickly on a topic you're totally unfamiliar with is to
ask an expert to explain it to you as succinctly and clearly
as possible. The way I do that is by calling people and
unabashedly asking them questions that may make me sound
clueless. I'd rather ask the question now than run a correction
later.
HOW DO YOU LEARN INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC
JARGON?

With jargon, I'll often cut people off in the middle of
interviews and ask them to explain what they mean. Even
if you have a vague sense that you think you know what
something means, it may mean something different in that
specific context.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR QUICK INTERNET
RESEARCH?

Initial research online is a good place to start. The
information isn't always the most reliable, but a good
Wikipedia article will always link to other sources that can be
more reliable. But again, you can waste a lot of time digging
through the internet searching for a fact that someone else
could give you in an instant. That old axiom is true-there's
no such thing as a dumb question if it prevents a dumb error.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU HAVEN'T
MISSED A QUESTION YOU WOULD'VE ASKED
HAD YOU KNOWN BETTER?

Every time I hang up the phone after an interview, I think of
50 more questions I would've asked. Usually what I end up
doing is emailing the person with follow up questions until
they stop responding. I also end every interview with, is there
anything you'd like to add that I didn't specifically ask about?
That's often where you get the best information by giving the
person space to share their knowledge without guidance.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO ADD, THAT
I DIDN'T SPECIFICALLY ASK ABOUT?

I don't think so.

10

Alex found Adina's advice helpful. "There's
some good pointers and tips in there. In
terms of asking the expert, in our case, it's
usually the client who's the expert. But not
always-sometimes they're new to being in
business and it's good to know that too.
"She noted that she'd rather ask the
question now than run a correction later-
in our business that's imperative. If we don't
ask the question, we might not be covering
something.
"There's always going to be something
you're going to miss or going to think of
after the fact, so it's important to not be
afraid to have a little humble pie, pick up
the phone and go back to the client for
more information. You might be afraid
the client is going to think you don't know
what you're doing, but they'll respect and
appreciate that you're clarifying something
or making sure you have something right.
And it's good to ask them to clarify jargon.
One of the Principals here once told me,
you really got to watch those TLAs: threeletter acronyms."

alism
journ
ways
takea
* Conducting initial research online
is a good first step to get the general
gist of things, but learning that way
can be time-consuming-asking an
expert is the fastest way to learn a lot
about a topic
* Always ask people to clarify
whenever they use jargon
* Ask an open-ended question to give
clients the chance to explain things
in a way you might not have known
to ask about

WWW.IBAO.ORG


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The Ontario Broker - August 2019

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