Listening to the Customer: Gen Re's CustomerConnect Disability Claimant Satisfaction Research

Guy McClintock, Solution Architect Stream Lead, FINEOS

Today at the FINEOS Claims Summit Drew King (Senior VP, Group and Specialty Reinsurance at GenRe Life Corporation) presented the key Learnings from GenRe’s CustomerConnect Disability Claimant Satisfaction Research.

This presentation comes at a time when FINEOS; through the Organisational Health initiative; have put the Customer front and centre of everything we do in our efforts as an organisation. So it was a timely reminder; and indeed a great validation of those efforts; to have such a respected member of the Insurance fraternity speak to us on this topic.

In 2007, GenRe started working with US Disability Insurers on the CustomerConnect research project. The CustomerConnect project was a survey of disability claimants to determine their level of satisfaction across a wide range of risk management, financial and service related dimensions.

The presentation was broken down into three main sections:

The Background and Methodology

GenRe runs the CustomerConnect survey every 2 years, and receive some 20,000+ respondents across 13+ companies. The survey is mostly focused on Long Term Disability Claimants, but has some Short Term Disability Claimants also. The surveys goal is to get customers experiences of dealing with their insurance carrier at the four main touch points of a claim; filling the claim, receiving a decision on the claim, receipt of benefit and closure of the claim. Only people who received a benefit were surveyed, this was because carriers felt that they knew what people who were denied felt about them. Only claimants who had claims with a duration of 6 months to 3 years were surveyed.

Drew made links to 3 earlier presentations to really hammer home the theme of the Claims Summit, and re-enforce that the Customer should be central to everything that insurance carriers do. Drew referenced Larry Wilson’s observation that “consumers are much more demanding than they used to be”, he also reminded us that we are all consumers, and we are all demanding, so this should not come as any surprise to us.  He then spoke about how Michael Kelly and Kevin McCarthy had spoken about how Technology is the enabler, but will never replace the human touch. Although different, comparisons can be made between GenRe’s CustomerConnect program and the FINEOS Customer Satisfaction Survey that Michael runs on an annual basis.

6 Key Takeaways

The mechanics of the CustomerConnect program give rise to 6 main takeaways for Insurance Carriers. The great thing about how Drew presented the information was that he extracted what was undoubtedly a massive data set and rolled it up into 6 simple and easy to understand takeaways:

#1 “We’re pretty good at this”

  • Most people were satisfied with their level of Customer Service. However, those who were not satisfied were likely to shout loudest and touch more people. The key areas that drive satisfaction are;  understanding the claim process and receiving accurate payment when promised.

#2; “There’s too much paper”

  • Claimants found paperwork to be frustrating and time-consuming, embodied by the following quote: “Repeated requests for medical information was maddening”. In a lot of instances this paperwork was required by the insurance carrier, the key point is that the claimant needs to understand why the carrier needs this information.

#3 “Reach out and Touch Someone”

  • Whereas I was reminded of the Depeche Mode song “Personal Jesus” when I saw takeaway 3, Drew referenced the George Bernard Shaw quotation; “The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished” to frame it!! Either way the message here is that claimants want to be spoken to, and they want pro-activity.  Drew spoke about how the online world is raising the bar in terms of contact, and made the point that insurance needs to keep in lock step to keep customers happy.

#4 “Your People Have Power”

  • There is a direct correlation between how satisfied a claimant is with their claims manager and the overall claims experience. So basically if you create a good relationship between your organisation and your claimants, you have cracked a large part of the Customer Service problem. This sounds simple, and yet probably holds the key to the greatest improvements in the area of Customer Satisfaction.

#5 “A Tangled Web …”

  • The most surprising part of this takeaway was the following quote from a claimant; “I didn’t know there was a website … have never been informed of it”. While insurance carriers are increasing their spend on corporate web-sites and portals, they need to ensure they are informing their customers of their existence and that they are capturing their customers imagination with their content. The data throws up the question about whether carriers are getting a return on their investment.

#6 “You Took My Benefits???”

  • The final takeaway  covered the fact that Claimants don’t understand the connection between Social Security and Private Disability Insurance. The following quotation embodies that lack of understanding: “When a person is signing up for the benefit they should be informed that SS disability plays a part in the monthly amount you receive”.

Conclusion and Call to Arms

Drew referenced the fact that he was a “quotes guy” throughout the presentation, and he used a quote of his own to summarise the whole topic; “the Claim is where the promise is kept”. So for insurance carriers, the claim is where they get to make good on the promise they have made to their customers. This is their opportunity to do right by their customers, and should be approached with the appropriate level of gravity.

Drew’s final point was a call to arms to the insurance leaders in the room. Drew spoke about innovation and how the US Insurance market is behind the curve on insurance innovation. He expressed his concerns and asked the question; “What if Google gets into insurance?”. He predicted a scenario where innovation will occur whether the insurance industry likes it or not, and carriers will need to adapt or die in the face of that innovation. This stirring call to arms was a fitting finish to a very fine and thought provoking presentation.

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