4 ways brokers can cultivate a reputation as a service leader

Over the last 10 years, the modern-day benefits broker has evolved from being a tactician to serving as a true strategic consultant. Today’s benefits broker plays a crucial role in selecting the right benefits, choosing the right partners and determining how to engage employee audiences.

One constant challenge is how brokers can differentiate themselves from their peers. I have one word of advice: service.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Providing stellar service is a tough thing to do well — and a hard thing to do well consistently. But over the course of my career, I’ve noticed a few key factors that are crucial to cultivating a reputation as a service leader in the benefits broker industry.

1. Be responsive.
Don’t overlook the power of responsiveness. Consider it from the customer’s perspective. They send an email to you late in the day inquiring about a specific benefit offering. They need an answer for a meeting with the chief human resources officer the next morning. How responsive can you be? Can you get back to the customer that same evening? First thing in the morning? Responsiveness matters. Even if you don’t have an immediate solution at the ready, it’s been my experience that customers want to hear from you and know you’re working on it.
2. Be persistent.
We’re all busy, and your customers are no different. They are in meetings, traveling for work and facing the same deadlines and commitments as all of us. Yet your customers’ busyness is no excuse for letting service slip through the cracks. Be persistent in getting key documents signed and approvals to move ahead. But also be persistent in the actions that ultimately will position you as your customer’s strategic consultant. Schedule regular check-in meetings and send an agenda ahead of time. Proactively send content you believe your customers will find interesting. Your persistence will ultimately pay dividends.
3. Be genuine.
I know the phrase “be yourself” gets overused. However, in the broker world, it bears repeating. Relationships are everything to a broker. Being yourself is the key to cultivating and deepening those long-term relationships. If you’re true to yourself, your passion and interest in the customer will show through. People want to work with people they like, who are caring and thoughtful, but also with people who meet deadlines and show results. Be yourself, but also deliver for the customer.
4. Be a listener with intent.
You’ve heard the notion: There’s a difference between hearing and listening. I’d add there’s a difference between listening and listening with intent. The latter is an absolute key to establishing yourself as a service leader. Because listening with intent means not only are you actively listening, but you’re also listening with the idea that you will provide thoughtful counsel based on what you hear from the customer.

Developing a reputation as a service leader in the benefits world isn’t easy. Good service means that employers know that you will be their advocate, not only identifying problems if they arise, but also identifying issues before they become problems. It means going beyond what is expected.