On Tuesday, October 24, LCI Workers’ Comp held its Fall Company Meeting. Twice each year, LCI’s staff comes together to hear from company leadership and other departments, and learn from outside voices. The presentations from LCI’s leadership—including Administrator Mark Tullis and Comptroller Kathleen Griffin—reiterated LCI’s mission of working to serve Louisiana businesses and our partnering agents.
Hearing from external voices serves as staff education, and Tuesday’s meeting focused on customer service. Guest speakers Angela Avant from Whitney Investment Services and Ronnie Slone and Diane Jackson, both from The Slone Group, all shared insights into the topic. Because I found the information from the two presentations useful, I wanted to share a few bits of wisdom that I took with me.
Angela Avant: Building Relationships and Dressing to Impress
Angela Avant is a Financial Advisor with Whitney Investment Services, and she is the longtime manager of LCI’s investments. What makes Angela successful, she explained, is her ability to manage client relationships. Specifically, she spoke about:
- Responsiveness. Even if you need a few days to get someone an answer to an email, a prompt acknowledgement along with, "I will get you an answer in a day or two,” can go a long way. Angela explained that people want to know you’re thinking about them and taking care of them.
- Making internal allies. While Angela handles investment accounts, her customers sometimes have banking questions. Getting customers help with banking questions helps build their trust in her. She explained that building relationships with her colleagues in the banking division helps her greatly in serving her clients as a team.
- Owning mistakes. Mistakes happen. Angela feels strongly that acknowledging the mistake and apologizing is the best route to nurture a client relationship. She said that customers appreciate the honesty and that they can see through excuses and blaming. Owning the mistaking and making it right is best, she explained.
Angela closed her presentation by speaking to a personal belief of hers: dressing professionally every day. She explained that dressing up gives her a certain attitude, and that when she carries the attitude, it allows her to be at her best. Even on a day when you don’t have anything important scheduled, she explained, you still never know who could walk through the door. She closed with a favorite quote of hers, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
The Slone Group: The Iceberg Illusion
Later in the day, The Slone Group gave a presentation about building a culture that makes customer service a collective priority. Ronnie Slone led an exercise, "the iceberg illusion.” Ronnie pointed out that only small percentage of an iceberg is visible above the water’s surface. In a company like LCI, he explained, our outward-facing image is the tip of the iceberg; it’s what our policyholders and agents can see. Beneath the surface lays the bulk of the iceberg: the teamwork, the communication, the collaboration, and process that goes into LCI’s image.
Diane Jackson picked up the conversation and discussed various elements of the behind-the-scenes work: the bottom part of the iceberg. She explained that each employee’s environment, as well as the collective work environment, contributes to the company’s success. The components of a work environment include:
- Physical. Is the physical workspace conducive to work? Is it too warm or cold? Too loud?
- Technological. Does the employee have the right tools to do the job?
- Cultural environment. Does the company culture allow employees to be productive?
Diane explained that this internal environment, while not always seen by the public, can have a large impact on a company’s success. What goes on beneath the surface affects what the customer sees.
LCI’s company meetings always conclude with a meal for the staff to enjoy fellowship and to discuss the types of presentations that I outline above. This week’s meeting was no exception. Conversations about the presentations could be heard throughout the office, which I think says something about LCI’s iceberg beneath the surface.