Top 5 Customer Service Lessons – Voice of the Customer

Insurance companies know that delivering superior customer experiences is crucial to increasing market share and keeping their customers. That was a big reason why I recently attended the 2014 LOMA Customer Service Conference, themed Earning Customers for Life. The conference was an excellent place to see and hear how leading life companies such as John Hancock, MassMutual, Nationwide and others are hurdling that challenge.

There were many great topics and speakers, but clearly, this was an event focused on “Voice of the Customer” and delivering customer experiences that exceed expectations. Here’s the Top 5 Customer Service Lessons you need to know:

 

1. Leverage customer insights;

2. Earn customer satisfaction one transaction at a time;

3. Do something with your data;

4. Satisfaction is not awesome;

5. Anticipate what customers actually need.

 

Life insurers have many customers but their primary ones are either policyholders or producers. With each of these customers, life insurers are striving to differentiate themselves by creating easier ways of doing business with them. Are you making assumptions or doing actual validation with your customers? Are you asking real questions, or are you afraid of what you might hear?

Taking an “outside in” view is now considered the new norm to understanding and addressing customer needs. Insurers are seeking to prioritize and map the journey from a customer’s perspective with a focus on the emotional side not just the rational. We must think like our customers.

In a recently story and Customer Satisfaction ranking by Insure.com, policyholders were asked to rate their life companies on key measurements including customer service, value for price paid and percent who would recommend the company. The top 10 Life Insurance Company rankings include:

  • Jackson National
  • Prudential
  • New York Life
  • State Farm Life
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • John Hancock
  • MetLife
  • American General
  • Aflac (tie)
  • Lincoln National (tie)

While many are making progress, in the Fourth Annual Temkin Customer Experience survey, Insurance only ranked sixth out of 19 industries in Customer Experience (USAA, State Farm, GEICO, Allstate and The Hartford led the industry).

Is customer service part of your culture, or is it only talked about at monthly meetings? It was interesting to hear during the Executive Panel Roundtable how Nationwide has taken the customer seriously. In her role as Vice President/Chief Customer Advocate over the past 5 years, Jasmine Green learned several lessons she shared:

  • Do something with your data. What is it telling you about your customers?
  • What is your service recovery? Insurers aren’t perfect, mistakes will be made, but how you react when it happens can make or break your relationship with that customer.
  • Customer Service must be part of the company DNA and Culture. That includes hiring and retaining employees who truly enjoy working with customers.

All things considered, it’s my view that an Accenture survey quoted by one conference presenter sums up where we are all heading: “By 2020, Customer Experience will override price and product as the key brand differentiator”.

Every customer conversation is a Moment of Truth – are you ready?