Six Steps for Providing Excellent Claims Service
My previous blog post highlighted the rapidly increasing value expectations of insurance consumers – many of whom feel that their business should be as valued as that of a high net worth individual (HNWI). This post will take a look at service expectation when “the rubber meets the road” and a claim is lodged.
Twenty years ago, a pioneer of the Direct Insurance revolution worked out that the cost of servicing an incoming call is five times more than an outgoing call. I have no doubt that the cost differential is even higher now – it is evident that having customers chase for an update on a claim is a negative for all involved parties! The remedy is obvious: control the conversation, manage the client and exceed expectation.
Claims handling is a crucial factor in achieving client satisfaction and renewal. Social media means that an insurer’s reputation can be rapidly damaged and take years to recover. HNWIs have traditionally had access to high profile media friends, but now so do the rest of us via Facebook and Twitter!
For HNWIs, claims can be extremely distressing and require the utmost sensitivity. Many HNWIs also have significant commercial policies with their broker that could be at risk if they are dissatisfied. Similarly, the high percentage of self-employment among Generation Y consumers adds to insurers’ risk of losing personal and commercial business, due to frustration with claims handling.
Timeliness is another factor to consider. HNWIs value it more than almost anything else, which is a main reason they often employ a butler, concierge, driver, gardener, handyman, decorator, etc. Today, few of these services are the exclusive provision of the HNWI. We are all desperate for someone who we can trust to remove additional anxiety from a lifestyle that is stressful enough.
So, what are the critical success factors for providing a claims service fit for a HNWI (and perhaps now the rest of us)?
- Pay up. Claims should be settled on the same day wherever possible and interim payments should be proactively offered. One of the biggest causes of policyholder discontent is having to wait for the cheque.
- Get it right first time! Mistakes delay the process, negatively impacting the customer experience.
- Don’t make consumers chase for an update. Any contact or visit should be communicated to all participants (broker and policyholder) as should the outcome and next steps, in a timely fashion. Collaboration is crucial. Maintaining proactive, informed contact generates goodwill.
- Offer cash or replacement. Many policyholders wish to replace through their usual supplier. Replacement should be an option for the policyholder, as opposed to the sole discretion of the insurer.
- Be open all hours. Don’t tell the HNWI that the adjuster only works until 5 p.m., so she’ll need to call back tomorrow at 10 a.m.! Remain accessible by providing mobile and email addresses. The client should not feel like a faceless number.
- Leverage innovative technology. Technology-enabled initiatives – such as self-service, collaboration, proactive communication, customer surveys and benchmarking – all support the cost-effective delivery of a much higher class of service.
To summarise, claims handling is a crucial component for providing a unique customer experience that is necessary to thrive in today’s uber-competitive insurance market. Treat your regular customers like kings, and they’ll surely return the favour.
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