The Best Way to Deliver Bad News to a Client

May 19, 2020

Situations will arise from time to time which requires an employee to have a difficult conversation with a client.  Having this conversation can feel especially stressful if they did not have any control over the decisions that were made leading up to that point.  

For example, an account manager is handed new accounts due to work being shifted around within the department.  Upon reviewing the file, they notice that there are substantial premium increases on an account that is just about to renew.  While they were not responsible for everything that happened with that renewal leading up to now, they are responsible for the communication to the client.  

This is certainly not an ideal sequence of events, but here are some things to consider if you are in that situation.

  • Review the file with the prior account manager.  They may have insight as to why the renewal was handled without being marketed and they can clarify how much discussion (if any) has taken place with the insured regarding the rate increase at renewal.
  • Discuss the premium issue with the producer.  Depending on what communication looked like with the prior account manager, the producer may not be aware of the rate increase their client is about to be hit with at renewal.  The producer may have some thoughts on how to best provide this information to the client or they may want to handle that conversation themselves.
  • Reach out to carriers to find out if there is any way they will be able to accommodate a last-minute request to quote the renewal.  Provide full details regarding the premium ahead of time.  This way they are able to make an informed decision as to whether they will be able to provide a competitive quote.  
  • Communicate with the insured sooner rather than later.  It is better for them to have as much advanced notice as possible rather than caught off guard when an invoice arrives.  Be direct and apologetic about the situation.  Provide clear information about the challenges with the renewal premium and the steps you are taking to find an alternative solution.  
  • In an effort to prevent this type of activity in the future, make sure you have a strong process in place around reviewing renewals well in advance of their expiration.   Implement a marketing plan which is reviewed by every producer for every renewal.  This will help keep all parties involved on the same page.

These types of conversations are certainly not easy to have.  However, taking ownership of the problem, communication, and seeking solutions will help you to continue building valuable problem solving and conflict resolution skills.

For more insight on this topic, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent podcast below.