Robin peered through the water cascading down her windows. Tree branches, roofing materials, and garbage streamed past her house in a swarm of debris, dirt, and rain. With a loud crack, she watched her 60-foot Sugar Maple tree split and crash to the ground, blocking the driveway. Then the lights went out.
While Robin watched the storm, her insurance agent, Terry Cullen, was monitoring the events online. The thunderstorm began around 7:15 p.m., just as he and his wife finished dinner. By 8:05 that evening, the storm began releasing extremely powerful blasts of wind, some in excess of 70 miles per hour.
Terry’s home phone began ringing around 8:30. Some customers called to report their homes and cars had been smashed by falling trees or limbs. Others reported basement flooding, broken windows, and collapsed sheds. Robin called, too, to let Terry know a grill from her deck had been blown through a bedroom window. The calls slowed around 11:00, and Terry turned the phone off and went to bed.
Terry stared at the ceiling in his dark bedroom. While his wife slept quietly, he lay wide-awake, worried about work. His administrative assistant was out on maternity leave and wouldn’t be there to help him wade through the hundreds of claims he knew would come in.
Finally at 3:30 a.m., Terry got up and called an answering service he once used while on vacation. They knew exactly what to do. By 8:00 a.m., Terry’s office and home phone were call-forwarded to the answering service. They had written a preliminary script to get all the information Terry needed to process his customers’ claims and help them recover from the storm. They also put together a protocol to connect any personal calls to Terry’s wife on her cell phone. That would allow him to go to the office, triage his emergency work, and focus on processing claims.
It was an intense few days, but with the help of the answering service, every customer had been served, and no calls were missed. His office earned the company’s highest one-day turn-around rate for claims. He decided to continue using the answering service after his assistant returned. With their help, Terry expected to become the single most productive office in his territory – and at the lowest cost.