Customer service excellence in insurance
07 January 2021
4 minute read.
Following the success of the UK Customer Service Excellence Awards in November 2020, Modern Insurance asked Sam Nicholson, Carpenters Group, how she would define customer service excellence, specifically in the claims market – and how the industry and Carpenters Group have navigated customer expectations to continue delivering outstanding service during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How would you define good customer service, specifically in the claims sector?
It’s about being available when the customer needs us, so we are 247/365. We need to listen and empathise, understand their personal needs, and get it right first time. Having a seamless process that is easy to understand takes away the uncertainty allowing the customer to get on with their day.
We need to provide a range of options to communicate with the customer, whether that be the ability to track their claims process online, instant messaging for updates, uploading docs via mobile/ tablet, and easy access to someone who can tell them what is happening through multiple channels.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic driven a re- evaluation of customer service? And what best practices in customer service have you seen emerge from the pandemic?
Covid-19 caused an acceleration in the use of technology across all service sectors. Customers began engaging digitally due to restrictions causing businesses to change and innovate their existing operating models quickly to maintain existing services.
Customer expectations have been reset - wishing to be able to engage with businesses through multiple channels, self-service for simple queries, and personal service for more complex issues. The adoption of Zoom/Teams has enabled the face-to-face interaction to continue at the convenience of the customer.
Overall, businesses have probably achieved more in digital transformation and process automation in the last eight months, than they have in the last five years. That speed of change is here to stay. Businesses will continue to deliver new digital enhancements, combining business resilience, cost efficiencies and most importantly customer service.
Now more than ever it is important that we support our communities. How have insurance businesses responded to the pandemic and taken steps to support those in need?
There have been a number of different initiatives within our sector; some insurers have helped customers by refunding premiums or providing payment holidays as well as reviewing cancellation fees and other charges. They have also provided additional cover for key workers and those helping their communities free of charge.
There have been many local charity initiatives too; we have sponsored ‘The Inclusion Hub’ in Liverpool as well as continuing to support Fans Supporting Foodbanks. Many charity events have continued virtually to maintain fundraising. Some businesses have developed fundraising hubs to support those suffering hardships due to Covid, as well as sharing their expertise and resource, connecting staff to local community groups, charities, businesses, and local authorities to provide support.
How have Carpenters Group continued to support and engage their employees during the Coronavirus pandemic whilst still focusing on delivering excellent customer service and understanding?
It has pretty much been business as usual albeit moving the majority of our staff to home working. We have embraced Teams for communication as well as holding regular team meetings, 1-2-1s and team quizzes.
Our CEO provides a weekly update with business news as well as tips for homeworking and mental health awareness. We have Wellbeing Champions across the business who are ready to talk and provide help and guidance for those that request it. As part of Medicash, we also have access to their wellbeing app that includes meditation, fitness, and mindfulness courses.
We have held virtual events such as Pilates, mental health workshops, fundraising and have a virtual Christmas get-together planned for December.
Our training team have adapted to virtual courses to ensure we maintain colleague training and development so we can continue to deliver excellent customer service to our clients. By focusing on colleague wellbeing, we ensure we are able to deliver excellent services to our customers.
How does Carpenters Group ensure that their customers always receive an outstanding service?
We continue to focus on colleague development and support, working closely with the Institute of Customer Service. If our colleagues are happy and content in their roles, then this leads to excellent customer focus. We live our values - supporting each other and driven to be the best are just two.
We have continued to evolve our digital services to improve customer experience by way of our bespoke MyClaim App as well as continually analysing customer feedback to see what we are doing well and what enhancements we can make. Where mistakes are made, we learn from them.
We celebrate outstanding service and customer feedback by way of recognition whether this be staff awards or an acknowledgement of service well delivered.
Head of Insurance Services, Carpenters Group
Credit: Modern Insurance Magazine