A Great Way to Get Your Employees to Connect With Customers
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A Great Way to Get Your Employees to Connect With Customers

A Great Way to Get Your Employees to Connect With Customers

Canadian-based Benson Kearley IFG (BKIFG) is not your typical insurance agency. That’s because Stephen Kearley is not your typical company president. BKIFG is obsessed with providing a world-class experience to its customers and employees, and it is paying huge dividends with exponential growth. BKIFG created an amazing incentive to help its team focus on collecting their clients’ FORD (Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams). This program provides every account executive with a $25 allowance that they must spend every month on their customers, creating greater customer engagement courtesy of more engaged employees. If you’re looking for a great way to get your employees to connect with customers, read on.

Every company struggles with trying to get their employees to go beyond simply being transactionally focused, i.e., just answering what the customer is asking for and moving on to the next call. While making money for the company is part of most job descriptions, this program reminds employees to be present, to stay in the moment by listening and recognizing their clients’ FORD, and then following up with delightful surprises. For example, an existing customer might call to ask a question about a policy and in the process mention that it’s their wedding anniversary that weekend. The comment might trigger the BKIFG employee to send flowers or a gift card. Remembering personal details about customers and helping celebrate them is a sure-fire strategy for strong customer retention. Not only does it create a sense of connection, but it also helps draw in potential customers as current customers tell family, friends, and colleagues – and the world at large on social media platforms – about their personalized positive experiences with your brand.

To maintain a sense of ownership, the BKIFG account executives must report on how they’ve used their FORD allowance. The third Monday of each month, after BKIFG’s morning huddle, the account executives stay on the call, and they take turns sharing how each team member spent their money that month. This helps give the team, who may have not used their monthly allowance, some ideas on how they can spend their money in the future. It can also switch the conversation from negative client experiences to positive ones with good clients. “It is easy to hang up the phone after a call with a rude customer and complain, but we don’t often do that after a good experience with a client. So, we like to ask our team in the meeting if they had a good client experience they had and wanted to share. Like a client “shout out’,” says Courtney Kearley, marketing director at BKIFG. It’s a feel-good strategy that can’t help but result in happy employees and an improved company culture.

Kearley shares some examples of how members of her team have used their allowance:

“We had a client going on a road trip to Florida, so we got them nice ‘to-go’ hand soaps.” These weren’t just any soaps – they were well packaged for convenient vehicle storage and were in small sheets which only needed a little water to foam up, making it easy to wash hands “on the go.”

“We had a client recently buy a new boat and express his excitement but also disappointment that he can’t take it out until next summer.” For this client, a set of rope coasters—from a shopping book BKIFG provides its employees—was the perfect gift to help him look forward to the upcoming boating season, provide something to bring on board once the boat was in the water, and remind him that he was appreciated in the meantime.

“We sent several clients the charcuterie board kits just because.” Who wouldn’t want to be surprised with a charcuterie board kit?

“A relaxing bath bomb and tea set for a client who expressed they were dealing with more stress than normal in their personal life.” A thoughtful way of showing empathy and support to a customer.

BKIFG has a catalog with a wide range of products from which their employees can pick out gifts to send to their clients for various occasions.

BKIFG also came up with a campaign targeted at increasing the amount of FORD they collect on their clients. Back when one of the new “Star Wars” movies was being launched, their slogan was: “May the FORDS be with you!” They even created Star Wars advent calendars for each office location. Every day they drew names of associates to open the doors on the calendar. They also had an R2-D2 trophy that was awarded to the top FORD producer.

All of this added excitement, motivation, and fun to the collective employee experience while helping to create a best-in-class customer experience.

John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or info@thedijuliusgroup.com.

Published: January 20th, 2024

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