Tuesday, March 27, 2007

All things to all people

I'm developing a coverage training program for agents in PowerPoint using a master slide that the carrier designed, which they are going to put into their own computer-based program once I've completed it. I ran across a technical problem with the master that I couldn't solve. When I have technical problems, I call my website designer, who is not a PowerPoint pro, and he couldn't solve it, either.

"Call the client," he said. "Describe the problem you're having and ask for their help. They're paying you to write, not to be a techno-geek."

I ultimately solved the glitch, paying what I call a "stupid tax," because the solution was so simple that I complicated it too much to see it. But here's the point. I can't be all things to all people and there's no shame, when I can't do something, to admit it.

I taught ARM and AIC classes for a few years and I learned a valuable lesson from the instructors who'd taught me when I was earning my designations. If they didn't know the answer to a student's question, they'd take a note, promise to get back to the student, and the next week they followed through.

There is no shame in not knowing the answer to a question. The shame is bluffing your way through. In today's instant society, we want answers now. Don't fall prey to pressure from clients who want answers you don't have. When we answer questions without thinking them through, quote prices off the top of our heads because we're pressured, guesstimate the cost of coverage, say "you've got coverage for that loss," or assume because the underwriter liked flooring contractors last month they still like them this month, we're heading "up fool's hill," as my grandmother used to remark as she watched her 16-year old grandkids drive off in cars.

It's better to say "Let me do some checking and get back to you with an answer" than to proffer an answer you're going to be forced to defend.

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