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Can You Weather the Storm?

May 30, 2014

by Greg Shiple
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Over the years, I’ve personally worked with several customers who were impacted by large scale disruptions, including Katrina, Sandy, High River Flood and various tornadoes. In each case, those that were prepared from a business perspective were better prepared in their personal life as well.  Disasters do not discriminate against businesses or our personal lives, and our customers need us the most during times of loss.  Like the Boy Scout motto says, “Be Prepared,” as disasters are truly a difficult time for everyone impacted.

Weather_StormIn 2013 alone, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the U.S. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.  As weather events continue to devastate much of the US, many people remain unprepared for dangerous high winds, heavy rainfall and other hazards. After disasters, you, as agents, are often a lifeline for your customers to begin rebuilding their lives.

Your Business Continuity Checklist
Some threats are predictable, while others give no warning at all and can shut down your business, leaving customers exposed. As we enter National Hurricane Preparedness Week, it’s the ideal time for agencies to prepare for the worst, so they can operate at their best when disaster strikes.

  • Make a plan: Analyze threats and determine how to safeguard your agency or brokerage to provide uninterrupted customer service.
  • Consider mobility: Use laptops and wireless devices to remotely access data, and host your company website in a remote location.
  • Protect data: Back-up daily in multiple locations and send your most recent back-ups to your system provider when disaster is imminent.
  • Prepare employees: Provide proper training and the information they need during a crisis, such as including emergency services numbers.
  • Prepare resources: Use a 24/7 phone service, contract with a disaster recovery company and consider an online version of your agency or brokerage management system.
  • Assemble claims information: Report claims right away and have first response from claims adjusters to ensure your customers can quickly start rebuilding.
  • Pack necessities: Include office and first aid supplies, energy sources, digital cameras, ACORD forms and bottled water.
  • Cultivate relationships: Connect with businesses that are useful during a disaster, including tree and debris removal companies, contractors and others that will respond to your customers first

How to Prepare Your Customers
Proactively communicate with your customers now and when your community is preparing for a pending disaster.

  • Share resources: Use The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to educate your customers on hurricane and severe weather preparedness.
  • Communicate across multiple channels: Write blogs, post on Facebook and tweet about how to prepare their business, homes and families for a disaster.
  • Create an emergency hotline number: Send your hotline number out to customers regularly.

Commitment to Customers Creates Loyalty to Your Agency or Brokerage
It’s important to demonstrate commitment to your customers by going above and beyond the call of duty. Be proactive and volunteer to help your community with clean-up efforts, and contact customers to see how they are coping and what you can do assist them. That level of service builds customer loyalty and trust.

How are you helping your customers prepare for a disaster? Has your agency/brokerage or another company in your community gone above and beyond to help in a time of need? Share your stories with us.

Greg Shiple, Sr. VP of Support at Applied SystemsGregory Shiple, AIS, Senior Vice President of Support, leads client technical support for Applied Systems in the U.S. and Canada. Greg began his Applied career as a programmer in 1986. Before he assumed his current role in 2007, he was responsible for data conversion development and systems development. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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