Why customer service is vital for life insurance
Inspiring customer confidence can range from solutions that seem too mundane yet necessary. These can range from how quickly calls are answered or returned to whether customers’ needs are anticipated and he is protected from making mistakes.
“Do they have my back when things go wrong?”
We need to ensure that sound corporate governance and immaculate risk processes, management framework, business ethics, and values are set in to sustain momentum and most importantly, sustain customer confidence. However, which way you attribute it, it ultimately boils down to one point: Have we “wowed” customers at the moment of truth? For example, in the business of life insurance, it is the moment where customers receive their claim.
The life insurance industry has specific elements that make customer service essential for the industry to bloom. An insurance product is intangible. A healthy customer who doesn’t go through any claims will never get the chance to find out how good the underlying coverage is. Therefore, potential or current customers rank service providers by what is available for them to judge – the quality of customer service.
Excellent customer service is key to client satisfaction and loyalty. Although the market is often saturated with product offerings that are similar in nature, service standards are unique to each provider, making it a point of difference among competing companies. Products, prices, and promotions can be copied, but great customer service cannot be copied as it is rooted in the culture of the organisation and its people. This makes it a key deciding factor, especially in an industry such as ours.
Softlogic Life continuously strives to enhance the service culture, keeping in line with our commitment to always deliver above expectations. We are the first company in Sri Lanka to have introduced the one-day claims settlement process, having made a profound impact on the life insurance industry benchmarks. They have an internal performance indicator of settling above 85% of their claims within a day without compromising the quality of the process and value to the customer.
The six commandments
The success of an insurance company comes down to the following six commandments of customer service.
1. Empathy – the degree to which the company cares for and understands its customers. As Theodore Roosevelt correctly put it: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
2. Personalisation – the degree to which the experience can be customised to the needs of each customer
3. Simplicity – the entire process of signing up, claiming, and maintaining a life policy should be streamlined and simplified, end to end
4. Meeting expectations – keeping promises made to customers across all socioeconomic and geographic segments from the outset. This is one of the main ways through which customer confidence is inspired
5. Resolution speed – ensuring that all inquiries, issues, and requirements are resolved in the shortest amount of time
6. Integrity – placing customer wellness over and above company goals
Softlogic Life abides by these commandments, infusing them into their products, processes, as well as their marketing campaigns. Customer service is at the heart of our business, and we believe it is a competency that is difficult to replicate even though products and marketing campaigns may be replicated.
‘WOW’ customer service
A solid example of this commitment is reflected in a recent initiative taken by Softlogic Life, where senior management makes personal visits to customers who are hospitalised for in-patient treatments establishing a sense of connection whilst reassuring them of support through their difficult periods. This initiative was taken as a part of the “WOW” programme.
The “purple line” is a customer care hotline number dedicated to customers at Softlogic Life, enabling them to take up any service gaps with those in charge; ensuring positive service at all times was also launched as a part of this programme. We also enforce positive services through a special customer complaint committee, targeting complaint resolution received via phone, social media, online, as well as those received personally.
Technology helps significantly in strengthening client relationships. Leveraging on the latest technological developments is also key to smoothing out customer relationships. While insight-driven marketing and self-service automation technologies help attract potential customers to business, customer data management and analytics solutions help keep customers onboard long after initial contact.
This also supports a sales force that is then armed with a buffer of knowledge before approaching a customer.
Instead of shooting in the dark, sales agents can do so with a guaranteed degree of success, making it a pleasant experience for both agent and customer.
One of our foremost digital achievements includes tele underwriting and app-based underwriting – firsts in the Sri Lankan life insurance industry – where customers can obtain insurance policies through telephone calls as well as on mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Viber. All of these initiatives are parts of a massive unique project launched by Softlogic Life called “WOW”, aimed at providing clients with a “wow” experience.
Customer support is currently standing at a crossroads: One road leads to exciting automated technologies, and the other to “human touch”. We see a definite shift in customer attitude towards using advanced technology in the long term. However, in the short term, insurance companies should focus on customer convenience and protection, including wellness, fitness, as well as nutrition.
(The writer is the Chief Corporate Services Officer at Softlogic Life)