Making Superior Customer Service a Reality

Customer service is central to claims operations

Insurers have traditionally spent a lot of effort on developing products, building distribution models and establishing market share, directing those efforts towards the first stages of their relationship with their customers.  From the customer’s perspective, what they are buying is the promise of help when they are in need.  To them real excellence in customer service only starts with the purchase, it is truly defined and tested by what happens when they make a claim.  Recently more effort has been directed to improving claims the process, developing it from a simple response, usually financial, to a more comprehensive service that seeks to help the claimant get their life back in order – to assist with restoration and not just compensation.  This is all about improving customer service.

I can think of three good reasons why superior customer service is essential in claims:

  • Differentiation
  • Relationship
  • Customer expectations

Differentiation: price or service

Insurance products have been converging for years and some are now fully commoditised.  For the customer this convergence of product means differentiation can only be determined by either price or quality of service.  Some insurers – for some products – will choose to compete on price.  This may be appropriate in some cases, but for a product where the claim itself is complex and has multiple potential treatments and outcomes, such as disability or personal injury, then competing purely on price is not practical. After all, there is only room for one at the bottom.  This means that the only practical differentiator in disability and bodily injury insurance is the quality of the service you provide your customers during the claims process.

Service is the primary differentiator.

Claims handling defines the relationship with the customer

The ‘claim’ is the ‘product’ that the policy-holder or group customer actually bought.  So the delivery of excellent service when dealing with a claim is critical to brand value, reputation and market share.  During a disability claim the claimant is in some form of distress, their work life and health disrupted.  The quality of assistance they get during the claims process is critical to the way they view the insurer.

The quality of service is the ‘product’ that defines the relationship and creates brand value.

Customer expectations have never been higher

Customers’ expectations for improved service are set by their personal experiences with the emergence of a range of new, customer-centric businesses that provide immediacy, transparency, personalisation and communication.

Customers now require as standard:

  • 24/7 availability
  • An element of control
  • Omni-channel access
  • Tailored content
  • Assistance and advice
  • Convenience
  • Same-day payment for auto-adjudicated claims

 Customer expectations will set the bar for levels of customer service.

(See the FINEOS webinar on Same-Day Payments here: )

What is excellence in customer service?

Simply put, excellent customer service is giving your customers what they want and need, not what is merely convenient for you to give them.

Excellent customer service is achieved by insurers who:

  • Know their customer
  • Keep them informed
  • Serve them quickly
  • Provide them with access
  • Build trust
  • Give advice and guidance

Excellent customer service brings tangible benefits

The advantages to be gained from excellent customer service are no longer thought of as ‘soft’ benefits.  There are real, measurable differences to be had from a customer-oriented claims operation that values the customers and puts their needs out in front.

The claims operation can become a competitive differentiator providing real competitive advantage and bringing with it:

  • Reputation
  • Enhanced brand value
  • Advocates
  • Fewer complaints

. . . And ultimately a healthier, more profitable organisation.

To find out more about how you can achieve superior customer service in your claims operation take a look at what FINEOS can do for you:

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