To nearly 90 percent of our customers, Allstate agency owners are the voice and the face of the company. To cities and towns across the country, they are savvy local business people who often lend a hand in the community. To Allstate as a whole, they are the indispensable link to the millions we serve, one at a time.
Allstate exclusive agency owners are independent contractors who represent Allstate exclusively. They know our products inside out. They know customers and their communities personally. And they know they can count on Allstate for support — from learning and development to support with business development, marketing, technology, claims handling, customer support online or over the phone, and more.
In addition to our thousands of exclusive agency owners in America, Allstate has relationships with more than 1,200 personal financial representatives who sell financial and retirement products through existing Allstate agencies, and more than 3,000 independent agents who sell products under Allstate’s Encompass brand.
Agent Satisfaction and Engagement
Because our relationship with agencies is vital to our company’s success and to our customers, we regularly promote feedback and dialogue with agency owners and their employees through national and regional advisory boards, market meetings, national conferences and other programs.
In 2011, we enhanced our Agency Executive Council by creating a co-chair position. In this capacity, the co-chair represents the agency force when working with corporate leadership on Allstate’s strategic direction and shared future. We also held our first National Forum, an event for all Allstate agency owners and financial specialists. Attendees had the opportunity to learn from and share ideas and experiences with their peers. At the Forum, we unveiled five commitments to agencies aimed at increasing their satisfaction:
- Consistent, clear and unambiguous strategy to help agents serve distinct customer segments with differentiated offerings
- Competitive products to promote product and market expansion
- Clear market positioning and brand promise to ensure all agents are easily accessible and all agency offices are branded correctly
- Fair and equitable compensation, including enhancements to bonus reporting
- Infrastructure to enable growth such as a new chat feature to help resolve customer issues countrywide
Each year, we conduct an Agency Relationship Survey to give agency owners and exclusive financial specialists an opportunity to share open and honest feedback about how they perceive their business relationship with Allstate. In 2011, our survey found that overall satisfaction declined, particularly among our exclusive agents. The top-level concerns included perceived stress and competition from the purchase of Esurance; changes in agency compensation programs, including an annual bonus program and a shift to variable compensation for agency owners; and concerns about incoming revenue due to the ongoing economic slowdown, which led to a reluctance by agency owners to invest in their business.
These survey results provide us with vitally important details about the needs of our workforce. Because we are committed to maintaining strong and positive relationships with agency owners and exclusive financial specialists, in 2011 we took on a number of projects aimed at improving our agent satisfaction, including:
- Improving the processes by which agencies earn Good Hands Certification, requiring half as much time to complete, thereby freeing up time for other efforts
- Creating an avenue for agency owners to provide direct, verbatim feedback to management
- Shifting our agency compensation programs based on agency owner feedback
- Developing guiding principles to reduce the operational tensions between Esurance and Allstate.
In 2012, we convened our first ever National Forum week, an event that brought together agency owners, exclusive financial specialists, and sales leaders to discuss how best to improve our agents’ satisfaction and continue to grow our business. The Forum week was a great success, with a survey of attendees finding a 96 percent overall satisfaction rate and 88 percent of attendees saying they felt positive and engaged about their role in the company’s future. These Forums provided us a chance to show our appreciation and respect for the work of our agents and experts, and we look forward to following through on the ideas we generated together during Forum week.
Like the company they represent, Allstate’s agencies profit from the strategy of inclusive diversity. Among Allstate agency owners, more than 23 percent are women and nearly 20 percent are minorities. The company also actively promotes a greater agency presence in areas with fast-growing multicultural populations.