In customer service, communication is key. It is simplistic to say, and companies might assume that their own customer interaction reflects its importance. However, businesses in certain industries sometimes fail to appreciate the perception that their customers actually have of them and their communicative skills.
Insurance is an industry that has been accused of having a less than positive reputation, although it has been hindered by some issues outside of the firms’ control. For example, many consumers find it difficult to differentiate between firms in the financial services sector, and often band banking and insurance companies together as one.
But despite factors, general insurance companies are beginning to improve their frontline communications to help appease consumers’ attitudes. Many firms are achieving this by implementing tailored complaints handling software systems that improve the quality and efficiency of their customer interaction.
In the past, complainants have too often been left dissatisfied by complex, jargon-filled responses that ultimately bring them no closer to understanding the issues behind their query or how it will be resolved. But with insurance products, the quality of service and past experience – especially in the area of claim settlement – are the most critical factors in influencing customer behaviour. Therefore, customer service is an area that must be given considerable attention.
Meeting customer expectations
There have been many tried and tested strategies to appease and ultimately satisfy complainants in the general insurance industry. A revolutionary new strategy is not the answer to enhancing customer service teams’ effectiveness; it is about improving their existing communications to give the customer what they actually want – information, resolution and an acknowledgement of fault if required.
Improving means understanding the customer and focusing on the details that could potentially cause unrest. For example, it is normally essential for customer service staff to set clear expectations as to when they will get back to the complainant. If the complainant goes away with the impression that they will be contacted within a few hours but the case handler intends to get back to them in two or three days, it could result in double deviation - where poor complaint handling only makes the situation worse.
Equally important is to clearly explain why the company was wrong – if indeed that is the case – and to state what will be done to rectify the mistake. An admission of a fault and precisely detailing how a situation will be resolved go a long way towards restoring customer trust. The vast majority of the time, customers will accept an apology and continue with their current insurance provider, rather than engaging in the process of switching.
Empowering frontline staff
Communication starts with the front line, but employing strong personal skills is not enough by itself. Internal communication needs to be equally strong and systems should be in place to make that possible. Word of mouth and face to face updates between teams can only go so far; in huge, multinational corporations it is quite simply unfeasible.
The frontline staff need support that is immediately available to them, often during their immediate interaction with the complainant. This information should be synchronised across the whole organisation so that as and when problems are rectified, the solutions can be identified by frontline staff and communicated to the complainant in an informed manner.
Introducing more staff or upskilling staff can only go so far to improving customers’ perceptions of complaints handling in the general insurance industry. But providing software that effectively captures every complaint, archives it and makes it readily available across the entirety of the frontline in an instant. Technology solutions can bring simplicity back to complaints handling and help to put the customer where they belong – at the centre of the process.
Insurance companies are able to collect vast amounts of data. By using software systems to unite this data, it can become a genuine corporate asset to help the effectiveness of customer interaction – rather than information simply stored in Excel without any real benefits. They will then be able to customise and personalise their responses – be it through email, phone calls, letters or social media. As a result, frontline staff will be able to create a deeper relationship with the customer and reduce the risk of churn.
Determine how detrimental poorly managed complaints could be for you. Do you know how much they could be costing? Get in touch with our team today to find out why we’re the experts on complaints management in the insurance industry sector.