National Customer Service Week: Customer Service as a Profession, an Interview with Edwin Torres

October 4th 2023

In celebration of National Customer Service week, I sat down with Edwin Torres, Account Management Supervisor. We discussed the intricacies of customer service as a profession, such as why he recommends the profession to someone just starting their career, how he stays up to date on industry best practices, and the skills necessary for success in customer service.

If you’re interested in a career in insurance or customer service, read on to learn valuable insight about working in the industry from Edwin:

Thank you very much for meeting with me to discuss National Customer Service Week and more particularly, the theme of customer service as a profession. To get started, can you tell me a little about yourself, your professional background, and your professional journey to get to where you are today?

My name is Edwin Torres, I am currently an Account Management Supervisor at Davies, and I’ve been working in the insurance industry for just over eight years. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 and bounced around for a while doing retail and contract work when I came across a community service program called AmeriCorps Public Allies. Through this program, I was able to be connected to the Risk Management department of a local nonprofit organization. During that time, that was really my exposure and experience regarding claims, insurance, and risk management.

Shortly after that program concluded, I decided to be a claims adjuster to officially jump into the industry. I found that opportunity with formerly Johns Eastern, now a Davies company. I was able to start my career as a workers’ compensation adjuster for roughly three years before jumping into the Account Management Department.

What skills and qualities are essential for success in customer service?

A number of different skills are essential. Some of those skills or characteristics require empathy, which was particularly important as a WC adjuster dealing with injured employees that are in a tough time in their life. So, any empathetic feeling you can generate to help them and help you motivate yourself to bring their case to a good resolution is critical. Problem-solving is also essential. You have to use critical thinking skills to try and draw a conclusion from a number of different sources, whether it’s WC or account management. Communication is also the foundation for everything. Being able to write, call, or video chat with a number of different people to bring everything to a close is incredibly important.

Touching on your background a little bit more, how did your adjusting background provide you with the necessary skills to better serve your clients?

I consider that time trial by fire. I had an opportunity and jumped right in and started handling claims in a time where I was very new to it. As a claims adjuster, a lot comes at you at once, but I think you really start to learn how to organize yourself better because you have so many different individuals you’re corresponding with and different timelines you’re trying to meet. Relying on those critical thinking skills, it really makes you find ways to appropriately solve a problem within the laws and appropriate practices established by the Risk Management Department that you’re representing. You really have to understand that people want to be spoken to even if you don’t have an answer at that time. Being able to listen to someone’s concerns, talk them through things, and give them updates are all really essential.

Regarding your more current position, what are your biggest strengths when interacting with self-insured clients?

The clients that we deal with are special in that sense. A lot are governmental agencies so school boards, cities, counties and are typically self-insured, so don’t have an official insurance policy for things like WC claims. What really helps me is that my experience as an adjuster directly benefits my current role. I understand the main product or the main service we provide to our clients and that’s excellent claims handling and being able to solve these problems for all parties involved. In terms of my biggest strength, my ever-increasing knowledge base regarding my clients’ needs and wants and also understanding their specific exposures. I also have a deep understanding of regulatory requirements and a familiarization with various reports that our clients need to respond to internal and sometimes external requests. I also think my ability to act as a liaison between clients and all of the appropriate parties, really connecting individuals and finding a way to solve problems.

How do you stay up to date on evolving state regulations and industry best practices?

As a licensed state of Florida all-lines adjuster, there is a requirement by law that I continue education credits. Davies has done an excellent job throughout the years providing us with opportunities to get these continuing education credits through business partner relationships. You really get a deep dive into all kinds of regulatory updates. Really, it’s a consistent and continual process. I like to stay abreast with different publications regarding the profession. Risk Management Magazine and Claims Litigation Management are excellent ones. Anything that will give me knowledge about specific and broad trends in the industry are helpful. More recently, I’ve started my course of study with the Institutes of America to get the Associate in Risk Management so I can further understand the clients I’m representing.

Why would you recommend the profession to someone just starting out, like a recent graduate?

There are a few things. There’s very good earning potential up front, especially for a college graduate to avoid being under employed. You can get some good opportunities as a claims adjuster.   I think what’s really crucial is that you’re always going to be learning. Working in insurance, in any capacity, you always need to know several different things, whether it’s regulations, laws, specific industry practices, reports you have to respond to, you’re learning so much. What really attracted me to the industry is that you’re getting a business education while you’re working. You have to understand the business from top to bottom and really get into the specifics of your clients and their exposures. So, you’re always learning, which is super exciting and I think that lends itself to transferable skills that you can put to any kind of position. There are also so many different opportunities within insurance. Just because you started in one area, doesn’t mean that has to be the end all. Insurance is a large web and there are so many opportunities if you’re interested.

Can you share any claims software or technology that a recent graduate should learn if interested in a position like yours?

For an Account Management position specifically, the basics will be the Microsoft Office Suite. Outlook for your e-mail management, Excel for data collection, and PowerPoint for presentations. You also want to be familiarized with a Customer Relations Management program, or CRM, where you can keep track of meetings you have with clients, requests, and contact information for everyone that’s involved in the organization. If you’re trying to dive into the world of adjusting, keep in mind any Risk Management Information Service platform. That’s where your claims are going through the system, where you review and make updates to it. Any exposure to a RMIS is encouraged.

I see you value a continuous drive to learn, grow, and improve. How have you harnessed that value to improve your customer service skills?

What I’ve found, particularly with my career, is that a lot of times I was not getting the most out of an experience until I jumped in and threw myself to solve a problem. Throughout the course of my time in adjusting and account management, being open and available for any challenge at any time is a constant and evolving process.

Is there anything you would like to add?

What I would communicate to anyone who wants to jump into a customer service role is to be as flexible as possible and come in with an attitude of trying to help. I think at the end of the day, we might overthink certain things but if you can provide help and empathy to whoever it is relying on you, in solving those problems, you will be surprised to see how many opportunities you can have in this industry.

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