“Sprezzatura” is Italian for the art of “making whatever you do appear to be without effort and almost without any thought.” Sprezzatura is the nonchalance we see in great artists like Picasso and athletes like basketball player Michael Jordan and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when they are performing at the top of their game. It leaves us breathless.
By making the difficult look easy, they make us feel like we can do it too—at least in our daydreams. We identify more closely with both the master craftsman and his masterpiece. Sprezzatura makes us feel smarter, stronger and more capable. Subconsciously, the virtuoso becomes an extension of ourselves, and together we are great.
But what does all this have to do with managing your business?
Great businesses also create the same type of relationship with their clients.
By becoming a virtuoso of your business, you can do the hardest parts effortlessly and make the client feel like you are a true artist of insurance and customer service.
When a business is operating at its peak, the customer doesn’t see the effort, only the benefits. A great business makes all transactions a pleasure and meets needs before the client asks. Customers are delighted and they tell everyone they know about your products or services.
Recently, I had a doctor’s and a dentist’s appointment on the same day. The doctor’s waiting room was dingy with a handful of outdated magazines. The dentist’s office was bright and new with many current periodicals and a high-definition television.
At the doctor’s office, I was met with a scowl and had to complete pages with hundreds of questions by hand, even though I’ve been a patient for years.
At the dentist’s office, I was welcomed by name with a smile and the forms were already prefilled. I just had to verify and sign.
The dentist makes a behind-the-scenes effort to make sure I have the best experience possible. Sprezzatura. I often recommend him to relatives and neighbors. On the other hand, I’m starting to think I might need a new primary care doctor.
Insurance agents can achieve sprezzatura—and many have without realizing it. It takes hard work, but the result is a reputation for a higher level of service that will pay for itself many times over in customer satisfaction and referrals.
How do you get there?
It takes technology and a relentless focus on the customer. You need systems that help you identify and anticipate individual customer needs and the mindset to meet them.
One personal lines agency I know has a rule to recommend optional bodily injury limits of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for all auto policies. The agency does this by using a red rubber stamp to mark all auto policy coverage declarations pages that they send to the client on every single policy—even the ones who already have higher limits. To the client who already has higher limits, this is confusing. The agent comes off as lazy.
Another agent I know goes in the opposite direction. At renewal time, he reviews policies and provides quotes for every option under the sun. His rating software makes it easy to show the effects of different coverages on premium so he winds up overwhelming the client with information.
Insurance can be complex, and that is why clients rely on a skilled agent. But this agent, in the name of service, pushes the unpleasant complexity front and center onto the client.
A better approach would be to spend the time understanding the client and focusing on their specific needs and then use the rating software to show recommended options and costs.
In my business of agency-management software, we work toward sprezzatura by using a concept espoused by author Steve Krug in his book, “Don’t Make Me Think.” We provide as much work as possible so the client does not have to think. We strive to make everything simple so the agent or customer service representative doesn’t need to think about what’s under the hood.
We don’t treat clients as if they are incapable of thinking. We consider what is important to the client and don’t make them spend unnecessary time and energy dealing with what is not important to them.
Your goal at the dentist isn’t to have a checkup. It’s to maintain good dental health. And your clients’ goals have nothing to do with insurance. Insurance is a layer of friction that the client must endure before they can drive their car, live in their house, enjoy their boat, or have peace of mind that their assets and family are protected.
So don’t overwhelm your clients with options that are extraneous or are too numerous. Don’t frustrate them with a complicated process. Don’t make them think. Instead, anticipate their needs so you can effortlessly guide them to their goals.
Most agents use their management system and rating software to identify renewals in advance and review for proper coverages, deductibles and potential discounts. But you can use technology you already have to help you take advantage of additional opportunities to provide superior service.
For example, I know an agent who uses his management system to identify owners of pickup trucks. Each fall he contacts them to see if they might be planning to do snow plowing and ensure that they are knowledgeable about their coverage.
Other agents I know use their management system to identify college-aged children and contact parents before and after school breaks to add or drop the children from the parents’ auto policy.
It’s easy to come up with other ideas. Just think about the kinds of things that clients ask you to do—and then do them before they ask.
Get rid of the pain in the transaction. Do the grunt work for clients, and they will focus on the benefits of doing business with you, not the price of the premium.