Insurers that provide highly satisfying home insurance claim experiences are more likely to see increased customer retention and loyalty, according to a study from J.D. Power and Associates.
Providing Highly Satisfying Home Insurance Claim Experiences Leads to Significantly Increased Customer Loyalty and Advocacy
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 8 July 2010 – Claimants of insurance companies that provide highly satisfying property claims experiences are considerably more likely to renew with their insurer and recommend their insurer to others, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Home Claims Satisfaction Study…Read More
In leading retention initiatives and studying loyalty, I found that executives at the highest levels of an organization tend to focus on customer retention. They understand the economics of retention. They know how keeping customers impacts the bottom line and it leads them to require great service from their service areas.
On the other hand, closer to an organization’s front lines, I find that retention as a motivator doesn’t work as well. At these levels, customer loyalty becomes a much more meaningful motivator than retention. Quite often, numbers mean less to front-line employees and emotions or feelings mean less to executives.
Fortunately, there doesn’t need to be an argument about which is more important. Retention and loyalty work in tandem. In terms of responsibility, however, it is the executive’s duty to truly understand what motivates employees and customers alike to create an environment where loyalty grows — because where loyalty grows, retention grows. In fact, where loyalty grows, the rate of acquisition also grows.
Defining Loyalty and Retention
Some readers may be wondering what the difference between customer loyalty and customer retention is. More than a few books have been written that try to explain this. There is a relatively simple explanation: Many things, including real value, perceived value, price, reputation, exit barriers and even being a poor risk can cause a customer to want to stay. Few things, however, create customer loyalty. And those few things take place during interactions that are generated, explained, or perpetuated by what is perceived by a customer as a caring and knowledgeable human being at least once in the customer’s overall insurance experience.
Imagine your claim customer is at a family reunion sitting at a picnic table with five relatives. Also imagine that these people only see each other at family reunions that take place annually. Imagine one of the relatives at your claim customer’s table talking about an accident he was involved in and complains about the way his insurance company treated him. Ask yourself these questions: What does your claim customer do when his cousin complains? Does your claim customer refer to his company (you) in a positive way? Does he mention your company at all? Remember that because these are family members, a referral carries risk. Not only does the customer want what’s best for his relatives, he also wants the next family reunion to be an enjoyable one. A perfect insurance experience is one that results in your customer renewing with you and referring your company to the people sitting around the picnic table. Simply put, a perfect experience is one that creates loyalty.
Clarity from the Corner Office
Take a look at your company’s mission and vision statements. They probably make reference to being the best service provider, exceeding expectations, or something similar. In reality, does your company view the claim area as having potential for having a serious impact on retention and sales? Or is the hope simply that the claim service area provides a level of service that doesn’t cause customers to leave?
If you don’t know for sure what the true (not necessarily written) vision of your claims area is, you owe it to yourself to ask. If you’re in charge, clarify your direction. If you are not in charge of the operation and the response you get after asking this question isn’t clear, assume that there’s not a serious (maybe well intended, but not serious) commitment to creating loyalty through claim services—at least not yet!
If your company isn’t truly dedicated to perfecting its claim product, it can mean that you have more to gain personally and professionally by assuming, or being asked to assume, a new focus and leadership of improving customer service. You can learn and then teach ‘the way.’ If you do it right, the results will bring you, your teammates, and your claim organization the recognition it deserves.
Claim work is full of emotion. It’s the most emotional part of the insurance business. When insurance marketing professionals look for ways to build emotional ties with customers, the claim scenario is almost always used as the example. Now, the two questions you need to be asking yourself are: How will my organization create and duplicate similar experiences more often than the competition? How will we prove that we create them more often than the competition? Proving it is important to your organization because by doing so you will be able to send a compelling message to present customers (retention) and future customers (acquisition).
As you and your teams work to perfect the claim customer experience, always remember that a company can’t fake that it cares. Customers are too smart. They figure out at lightning speed whether your concern for them is non-existent or disingenuous. Also, remember that leading the initiative is one thing, but execution should be at the front lines. Make sure those employees know how important they really are. Without them, nothing happens.
It is also important to know that while the claim area may be the most emotion-ridden place for customers, it is by no means the only place. Sales, billing, internet, and policy services all have an impact on the overall experience of your company’s customers.
If your efforts will be limited to claims, do it right and make sure other areas are watching. Who knows, you and your teams just might be able to help make the customer experience perfect for your entire company”.
At Hennesy, Inc. we know that our reputation is only as good as the last claim file we completed. I am re-printing our mission statement here:
To provide outstanding customer service on behalf of the carriers we represent, that will exceed the expectations of their customers.
To provide carriers with a source of experienced adjusters who are knowledgeable in property estimation as well as responsive and empathetic to customer needs.
To smoothly work as a team with carrier claims staff and agents facilitating the completion of all claims tasks required.
To completely satisfy customers and carrier one claim at a time, every time!
As I look forward to 2019, the number of intentionally set fires as well as claims involving fraud will no doubt remain high. The gap between new construction costs (RCV) and market value (ACV) for property continues to increase, making it even more imperative to have adjuster’s who are well schooled and current as to construction and market prices in addition to their excellent customer service skills.
As always, if we may assist you in any way, please let us know.
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