When you’re in the insurance business, you talk a lot about customer service. Unfortunately, the insurance industry has earned itself a certain reputation of being cold and heartless folks who are always looking for loopholes to avoid paying claims. I’m sure that employees in large insurance companies are expected to double down and save the company money -this is, no doubt, a part of the problem. But not all customer service is linked to claim payouts.
As a small business owner, customer service means something else entirely to me. In this blog, I will try to share my perspective on customer service in the insurance industry. I think it is important to focus on areas such as employee motivation and briefing, technologies, and the human element and sense of empathy that is essential when it comes to working in the insurance business. Let me also clarify that some of these perspectives may run contrary to commonly held wisdom.
Focusing on what matters – better presentation and human interactions:
Simply put, when it comes to insurance, customers crave clarity. At the early stages of their research, they want easier access to information, convenience, and clear presentation. This means that your website and resources must be clear and concise, and easy enough for even a layman to understand. As the customer moves further in the purchase cycle, the one thing that can never be replaced by technology is the human connection. To my mind, this is one of the main reason why insurance companies are unable to deliver good customer experiences, despite all their investments in tech. Taking the time to listen to our clients and helping them to craft custom coverage based on their needs is what has worked for us. That’s the value of the human touch.
The relationship between employee experience and customer satisfaction:
If your employees are not motivated, they will do their jobs robotically. If employees are motivated, they will think out of the box, and craft creative solutions for the problems of their customers. They will be involved more, will listen better, and “own” their relationships. And of course, employees need to be trained. They need knowledge of every product and offering in the company so that they can provide better solutions. Insurance is awash with fine print. Knowledge is necessary to better guide the customer.
Focusing on problem-solving instead of dabbling in the blame game:
It’s only human to make a mistake, but when it comes to insurance, these mistakes can mean an extra $ charge every month or a nasty surprise when trouble strikes. The customer may be over or underinsured. Every small business has different exposures and risks and not all may be understood well. Just because a business has been taking insurance for certain risks at certain cover doesn’t mean that’s the right approach. It’s important to determine what must be changed. It’s even more important to clearly and transparently say as much so the customer knows what’s wrong and how it can be fixed. This leads to less frustration for the customer. Employees should be trained to find solutions when problems arise instead of pointing fingers or sticking to the status quo.
Maintaining consistent cross-channel interactions:
For a small business, the most frustrating thing to deal with in an emergency is being on hold and having your call transferred from one department to another. The customer not only wastes a lot of their time but also has to repeat the incident multiple times. We’ve all been there. It’s critical to find ways to streamline this. The best way is for the customer to be able to reach out to the agent who helped them buy the policy in the first place for guidance and support. The processes should ensure that vital information about a case is recorded and knowledge can be transferred seamlessly to any other department so that customers feel they are taken care of. These are the touches that customers will be grateful for.
Empowering and enabling customers to help themselves:
Customers love to help themselves. It saves their time and allows them to find information themselves, which, invariably, saves company time and resources as well. Creating content on the website to address an array of generic questions provides self-service information and saves company resources and the time and energy of customers. This information could be created in the form of blogs, videos, FAQs, and so on.
Developing a sense of empathy and emotional intelligence:
Customers call for claims when they are facing a traumatic situation -a destroyed house or a massive business loss. At such times, there can be nothing worse than an uninterested customer service representative focused only on technical details. In my view, the customers may never feel burdened or stressed out by an insurance phone call. It is important to sensitize employees to the grief of customers that may be on the other end of the line. Patience, empathy, and compassion should reflect in every interaction between an agent and a customer. The customers will also appreciate professionalism as that gives a sense that the process is working and that the organization they have chosen to trust is the right one.
According to the Capgemini World Insurance report, 31% of non-life insurance customers have changed providers in the last 5 years. In the face of such high competition, what will help an insurance company stand out isn’t how policies are priced, but rather, how customers are serviced.
I see customer service in insurance as an experience which is brought together by employees, technology, effective management, leadership, and training initiatives. A stellar customer experience for small businesses depends ultimately on the human touch. The people behind the small business want to know and trust the people behind the insurance agency they pick. This is where customer relations are forged and customer service is delivered.