The customer experience culture: Extending relationships beyond the saleArticle added by Stephanie Shields on March 3, 2016
Ranked: #435 (218 pts)
Today, customer service is more important than ever and this is true across all industries and businesses. One could argue that customer service is even more important than the products themselves. As trusted advisors, brokers are tasked to provide the best products for unique client needs with the best service. A great customer service strategy begins long before a broker ever walks through a potential client’s door. It is cultivated by the broker’s business and service philosophies, yet it can be influenced by any partner they align themselves with to help support their clients. Starting from day one, brokers expect their partners to understand their unique needs and deliver exceptional customer experiences to them and their clients as extensions of their teams.
Partner with insurers that know the importance of customer service
Choosing the right insurance partners and products is the most important step in the path to becoming a trusted advisor. Brokers know their clients may consider this selection process a commodity – and the final choice could come down to the overall cost. But there is more to benefits selection than the client’s bottom line. Ensure that partners offer services that adequately meet the needs of your clients’ employees because an employee’s poor experience with an insurer can reflect badly on your client, which in turn reflects negatively on you.
Luckily, insurers recognize consumers’ increased emphasis on customer service, and many have developed solutions and products that expand on traditional offerings. In addition to 24/7 call centers, some insurers have added features to their products at no additional cost. This includes services such as telemedicine and bill negotiation. In fact, almost half of employers’ benefits packages offer telemedicine, and by 2018, that number is expected to rise to 90 percent.1 Plus, the convenience of receiving treatment without actually having to visit a doctor’s office not only gives busy workers time back in their schedule, but also is a good way to deliver on employees’ desire for better customer service.
The need for products that provide benefits with both immediate and long-term value goes hand in hand with the need for fast claims processing and payment. Health insurance companies process 98 percent of claims within 30 days, but for today’s fast-paced lifestyle, 30 days can feel like a lifetime, especially for those struggling to pay medical expenses. With only a handful of companies offering fast claims processing and payment, choosing a partner who can deliver this type of service could go a long way in building rapport with your clients.
Choose partners who have a long record of being socially responsible.
Today, in the eyes of consumers, the customer experience is directly correlated with the way a company behaves. In fact, a 2015 study on Corporate Social Responsibility conducted by Aflac shows that who a company is can determine a potential customer’s purchasing preferences as much as the quality of products. With Millennials, who represent more than $200 billion in purchasing power, that sentiment is extremely strong.
Offer hands-on support
Each client represents a relationship – some are new, some have been built over time. Continuous nurturing of those relationships extends naturally to ongoing client support and a year-round focus on employee communication and education can mean the difference between a one-time sale and a strong rapport. Visiting your clients’ businesses and holding workshops may help you to better explain the products offered and give employees personalized attention. This not only allows you to help ensure the success of your clients’ benefits programs, but also gives you the opportunity to better understand what employees want so you can continue to build a strong benefits package for your clients.
If your clients prefer less frequent communication, help them create a yearlong benefits marketing strategy instead. This gives them the freedom to pursue benefits communication on their own terms, while still leveraging your knowledge as a broker.
Customer service is intertwined in every touchpoint you have with your clients and their employees. While some may think it is limited to call centers or virtual assistants programmed to direct calls to the next available representative, successful brokers know it is much more than shorter hold times. Exceptional customer service starts with a solid philosophy, strong insurance partnerships and ongoing support that extend relationships far beyond the sale.
1. Towers Watson. “High-Performance Insights: Best Practices in Health Care,” accessed Dec. 2, 2015 - https://www.towerswatson.com/en/Insights/IC-Types/Survey-Research-Results/2015/11/full-report-2015-towers-watson-nbgh-best-practices-in-health-care-employer-survey↩
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