Getting Back to the Dog-Gone Basics of Customer Service

Trust is a funny thing.  Everyone wants to appear trustworthy; many strive for years to earn trust, and with one slip-up all your effort can go down the drain in a blink of an eye.  I always say I have never met any “person” more trustworthy than my Black Labrador Retriever, Roscoe.  Why does it come so easy for man’s best friend to earn trust, but it can take YEARS for a human or a business entity?  Well, simply because these awesome creatures aim to please. Plain and simple, it’s customer service 101.  Look at the face of my dawg.  Right off the bat you notice a couple things:

  • He’s attentive
  • His is block-head is tilted, trying to understand what the heck I am saying to him
  • Although he does not understand the word SMILE he does not give up or walk away but still aims to please
  • And after the photo op, he stuck close by, periodically checked up on me while I did yard work (without peeing on my plants), and never forced me to have to chase him down. Wow.

If that is the equation for trust, it doesn’t sound that difficult.  Yet many insurance companies need to entertain a visit from the Dog Whisperer.  Of all businesses on the face of this planet, trustworthiness for insurance companies is an imperative.  After all, what we are paying for is ASSURANCE that if something goes wrong in life your insurance company has your back and they can help you pick up the pieces.

It’s an arduous task for some, though. Just this past month my health carrier lost my trust.  I was standing outside a clinic my doctor referred me to and was not sure if this visit would be considered in-network.  While I had the CSR on the phone while standing in the doctor’s office (unannounced to her) they said they would call the receptionist to see if the clinic participates in my insurance plan.  (Note that this is a basic question the provider should know the answer to without having to call the member to ask…so this is odd from the get go.)  Long story short, the phone never rang, the CSR said I was all set, when in fact I was not.  The doctor’s office personally told me I was not covered.  I am puzzled why the CSR gave me false information.  What other things have they told me in the past just to get me off the phone?   

The bottom line is that insurance companies need to get back to the dog-gone basics of customer service!  Being attentive is half the battle; just ask Roscoe.  If you are not fluent in the language of Labrador what he would say is to concentrate on delivering an impeccable customer experience. It is entirely about catering to the customer’s needs rather than reactively going through the motions to please.  If you service model is based on guess work and reactive motions, your odds of failing several of your customers is high.  Today we have the technology to contextualize what we say and do based on individual customer interactions.  And the technology assures that you deliver this service in a consistent manner making mishaps an exception versus a norm.  In short, all customers seek is a positive, trusted experience, and then they might even eat right out of your hand.  The following are a couple tips to achieve this:

  • A process approach to customer service to enforce consistency and eliminate reworks;
  • Contextualized services aligned to distinct customer needs to make them feel wanted;
  • Multi-channel interaction so that customers can communicate by any means they choose;
  • Case management to provide transparency into the inquiry process so the customer does not have to hound you down.

Aiming to please is not difficult.  In my last blog I even note that I am willing to pay extra money for that basic service, in fact.  Yet often this is what many customer service organizations do…take a watch…it’s funny but sad.