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Customer Service: Where’s the Bacon?

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Last week, while travelling to the NAILBA 30 conference in Phoenix, I zipped by a well-known fast-food chain to snag a breakfast sandwich. I ordered a bacon and egg biscuit. After I’d driven away, I opened the bag to find a sausage and egg biscuit.

OK, I realize they both come from pigs or Sus scrofa domesticus, but I ordered bacon. I even asked for crispy bacon. Instead, I got a spicy sausage patty.

The USDA defines bacon as “the cured belly of a swine carcass” while sausage, according to Wikipedia, “is formed in a casing traditionally made from (the) intestine…and sausage makers put to use tissues and organs…such as scraps, organ meats blood, and fat.”

Look, no matter how you slice it, what I got was not what I ordered. As I was trying to figure out how to discard my blackened disc of intestinal scraps, I got to thinking of the advisor-client relationship and the gap between good and great customer service. Yes, my brain really does Ping-Pong at times between food and financial services. I mean, doesn’t everybody’s?

So with the sausage given a proper burial at sea, encased in its porcelain tomb, I gave more thought to the question of customer service. Or more importantly: Are clients getting what they want and what they need? Those two things are not synonymous. I knew what I wanted: bacon. The client may know they want to have money throughout their retirement and not wake up one day having outlived their assets. But how do they know how to get there?

A great advisor with a great financial plan can take clients that extra step. If they ask for a BLT don’t show up with an SLT (sausage-lettuce-tomato). With financial markets scarier and financial products more complicated, educating the client has never been more important.

One opportunity for educating clients and putting them in the best possible scenario during those retirement years could be in capitalizing on the phasing out of the CLASS Act. “The issues surrounding the CLASS Act coupled with the challenges found in the traditional long-term care insurance market might lead people to believe there are no viable options,” says Chris Coudret, executive vice president for State Life, a OneAmerica® company. “In fact, there are more solutions available now that benefit consumers, through guaranteed premiums and benefits payable even if long-term care services aren’t required.”

According to OneAmerica®, “the market for annuities with long-term care benefits significantly expanded after a provision of the Pension Protection Act took effect in 2010, allowing the growth in cash value to be used for qualifying long-term care expenses without being subject to federal income tax.”

The moral is that there are plenty of opportunities out there, if you dig into the new regulations and work with your carriers and wholesalers on the new offerings of hybrid and combo products on the horizon. And, at the end of the day, educate yourself, and make sure you’re not offering your clients bacon when you’re really giving them sausage.