Customers feel more appreciated when we meet or exceed their expectations. A customer, when he engages with a business, it’s not merely an exchange of 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’d be let down, he’d 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 were a lot like impressions. The second one didn’t count for much.” ― Kristin Hannah. This means that the moment you fail to honour your initial promise, doubts arise in the mind 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 always 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 of a lack of expert staff at other offices. How would customers who visit your offices outside the head office have a better customer experience when they cannot have their claims to be fully handled at the branch office. The experience is that the one who sold the insurance policy to you at the branch office does not have any influence on how your claim is handled.
- Interactive Website
Build an interactive website 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 is mainly arising from the different views in interpretation of 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 steered to the lack of trust in the insurance sector by most Ghanaians.
The National Insurance Commission has published the claims payment guidelines for non-life insurance companies. Going through this guideline, 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 organizations. This is the main reason why all insurance practitioners and professionals must therefore 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 when they have a question or complaint, and nor 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 organizations 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 these efforts of showing off on social mediamatter 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 the same. This is the best form of appreciation required by customers. I will kindly advise insurers to conduct a survey annually during this period to know their customers’ experience with them and how they can improve.