- …A fair question to Insurers
Customers feel more appreciated when we meet or exceed their expectations. A customer, when he engages with a business, is not merely exchanging monetary value. Along with the cash, he is also handing over his trust to the business. And if for some reason he is unhappy in that transaction, he’ll be let down, he’ll feel cheated. Customer satisfaction is one of the cornerstones of an exceptional relationship that is considered true customer loyalty.
Customer service is the support you offer your customers both before and after they buy and use your products or services, and that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. Delivering customer service is crucial for every corporate brand. If you don’t have a knowledgeable, consumer-focused support team, you should not expect to thrive in a competitive marketplace. (D. Sears,2016). Good customer service should build trust.
Insurers sell a promise, and trust is more important for insurers than any other type of business. An insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured. The contract determines the claims which the insurer is legally required to pay in exchange for payment(s) made by the policyholder, known as the premium. The insurer promises to pay for loss caused by perils covered under the policy.
“Promises are a lot like impressions. The second one doesn’t count for much.” ― Kristin Hannah. This means that the moment you fail to honour your initial promise, doubts arise in the minds of people on the subsequent ones given. Harvey Firestone also said that he believes fundamental honesty is the keystone of business.
There are three basic steps to build a good and improve customer service, and this is very important to insurance service providers according to Dean Sears.
Make it easier for everyone to reach your brand. How do insurers build a platform for them to be easily accessible?
These include office space or various outlets, and they should be very well branded. The office experience customers have at insurers’ head office should not be different in terms of environment and atmosphere at other branch and agency offices.
- Quality and Experienced Staff
Most insurers keep their best staff at their head office. Most insurers often transfer their best staff at the branch offices to the head office. The branch offices are seen as a learning point for most staff. This affects customer service delivery, as it is seen as a place of experiment and learning.
When it comes to the underwriting of certain commercial businesses and claims-handling, most insurers rely on their head office because they lack expert staff at other offices. How can customers who visit your offices outside the head office have a better customer experience when they cannot have their claims fully handled at branch offices? The experience is that the one who sold the insurance policy to you at a branch office does not have any influence on how your claim is handled.
- Interactive Website
Build an interactive website so that customers can communicate with you. This website should be attractive and functional. Have a built-in one-click online inquiry, live interactive periscope Q&A events, telephone numbers, mailing address, and social media and blog comment capabilities.
Timely response in terms of claims payment is very key for an insurance business. The core business of an insurer is to underwrite business and pay claims when they are called upon. Unfortunately, one of the common challenges facing the insurance industry in Ghana is low public confidence and trust. This mainly arises from the different views in interpreting various policy provisions and clauses between the policyholder and the insurance company, which in some instances result in disputes.
A lot of disputes arise when it comes to the time to make a claim. Most policyholders usually do not know where to send their grievances and give up on pursuing their claims, but vow not to do insurance again. Some of these bad experiences are shared with family and friends, and this has led to a lack of trust in the insurance sector by most Ghanaians.
The National Insurance Commission has published claims payment guidelines for non-life insurance companies. Going through these guidelines, it is not supposed to take an insurance company more than a month to pay a legitimate claim after all necessary documents are submitted and the claim is admissible. But what is the reality on the ground? For life insurance companies, maturity policies are supposed to be paid on the maturity date or not more than three days after the maturity date.
Insurance claims are an interactive process between the insured and the insurer. Every stage of the claim should be communicated to the insured. The insured should never be left in the dark.
Train, equip and support your team
Many insurance policies or products were designed base on the identification of a social need. The primary role of insurance is to assist individuals and organisations. This is the main reason all insurance practitioners and professionals must adhere to high ethical standards when considering what product, policy or coverage might be suitable for a given exposure.
Customers do not want a robotic, overly-scripted agent on the phone or anywhere near when they have a question or complaint; and neither do they want someone whose go-to answer is “I don’t know”. This is why insurers must invest in training their staff to respond to customers with empathy and understanding. When I talk about training, then one company comes to mind. They took me through management transition training for a whole year, and that made me better. Insurance companies need to constantly train their agents on customer service delivery and ethics and professionalism.
The number-one (1) priority for the majority of organisations is to improve the customer experience. But what exactly is the customer experience? According to Hubspot, “Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line, including revenue”.
The best way to show appreciation to customers is to be genuine with every customer and on every transaction, and this should be a daily activity at every level of the organisation. This means it should become the attitude or behaviour of the company as an entity. None of the efforts in showing-off on social media matter if you don’t genuinely care. This is why you have to take the time to reflect on why your customers are so awesome. When you approach them, be wholeheartedly excited about what they’re doing, celebrate their success, and help them on time when you are called upon to do so. This is the best form of appreciation required by customers. I advise insurers to conduct a survey annually during this period, to learn their customers’ experience with them and how they can improve.
The writer is a staff of the National Insurance Commission. He is also the Leading Managing Partner of Jusbel Risk Consult Limited. He is a Chartered Insurer and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute of United Kingdom and also Ghana (ACII-UK, ACIIG
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