Customer service is important in every business. In an industry that sells an intangible benefit, like insurance, it’s essential. Yet poor customer service is one of the most common complaints among insurance customers.
Improving your customers’ perception of quality customer service requires you to look at customers and your products in a particular way.
See insurance from the customer’s point of view
While people may enjoy buying a car or a home, no one likes having to pay for insurance. At best, the client sees insurance as a necessary evil. They may even begrudge the regular payments — until they need to make a claim. And they hope that never happens.
What that means is that the only way they judge the quality of their insurance provider is from what they can see:
- how quickly you return phone calls and emails
- how well you anticipate their needs with suggestions for the right coverage and ways to save money
- how you protect them from their own mistakes.
When it’s time to make a claim, the customer has just endured an accident, disaster or injury. They’re under a lot of stress. How well you respond by providing help, connect them to services and expedite their claim will make a huge impression — and could determine whether they’ll renew the policy.
Tips from other industries
Customer service is crucial in insurance, so it can help to look at an industry where customer service is everything: hospitality.
The best hotels anticipate what guests need and want when they arrive. They know travelers are tired and stressed, and provide little things that guests don’t expect before they arrive.
Anticipating customers’ needs before they express them requires that you know your customers. That leads to the next customer service idea:
Empower your employees
Talking to someone on the phone who cannot address their concerns is one of the biggest frustrations for insurance customers. You can make a huge improvement in the customer’s experience by giving your front-line employees — those who deal directly with clients — the power to solve problems.
This could include fixing errors that may be costing them higher premiums, or suggesting changes in their policies that could improve their coverage while reducing premiums.
Maintain the company-client relationship
Another important part of the customer experience comes from trust. Dealing with the same person whenever they call in goes a long way to building trust.
Advancing people from within, providing ongoing education, professional development and other supports gives your employees incentives to stay with your company. This in turn means they’re around long enough to deal with the same clients year after year, building the relationship between company and client.
These ideas seem simple, but putting them into practice, we know, is not simple. In future blogs, we’ll look at ways to continue building on that customer relationship.