Customer service best practices in the insurance industry
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In this conversation, Virag shares some customer service best practices from the insurance industry. Guiding customers through lengthy processes, explaining complicated terms and conditions in simple terms, and being regularly audited by strict insurance companies are normal practices for simplesurance. As such, agents like Virag can teach us a lot about effectively communicating with customers and guiding agents through every evolving processes.
Managers should immediately and clearly explain process changes
- Simplesurance is a reseller and comparison platform for insurance. As such, the insurance companies dictate the processes by which claims can be managed, submitted and paid out.
- While at simplesurance, frontline customer service staff are regularly audited on adherence to the terms and conditions of each insurance plan. It’s therefore extremely important that agents are always clear on terms and conditions and are kept up-to-date on any changes.
“When there’s something new our managers are always on top of it…They will tell us all the information we need to know”
- All the policy information is housed in an internal ‘wiki’ that agents have access to. This wiki is always up to date and is purposely designed to allow agents to quickly find policy information.
- Nevertheless, service managers at simplesurance always take initiative and directly inform their team of any policy changes. This ensures that every agent always knows if there’s a change, even if they don’t check the wiki. Virag stressed that the immediacy and clarity of the communication from managers is what ensures that agents don’t make mistakes.
- The naming and identification of insurance plans in the wiki is therefore crucial. Agents must be able to find the insurance plan in the ‘wiki’ to keep track of changes. We produced an episode on knowledge management in customer service, check it out for more advice on managing internal help centres/wikis.
Motivating customers to cooperate
- To make an insurance claim, one must submit many documents, fill out online forms and based on new information, the process may change along the way. Submitting a claim is lengthy, strenuous and very often customers don’t want to follow through to the end. A very important skill for simplesurance agents is, therefore, guiding customers through complicated processes and keeping them motivated.
- A claim process is unique to the individual insurance plan, each has unique steps. Usually, documents and forms have to be sent in a particular order. As such, thinking ahead of the process before asking customers for anything is hugely beneficial. If a customer must send Virag one document now and two later, Virag will let the customer know about all three documents upfront.
“[Customers] just see another email and another email asking for something. They do not know how the process works…If I explain why we need something, normally it helps. They can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
- Sharing information upfront gives the customer more time to find the documents they need. If they don’t have access to a document, the process could change. Knowing this before the claim process has started saves Virag and the customer time. Virag also explains why documents are important. Explaining the ‘why’ behind the process in simple terms is very important for something as complicated as insurance. If customers don’t understand the ‘why’ behind a process, they will be less motivated to cooperate.
Mirror language over email or chat
- Mirroring is an effective technique applied in customer service and sales. It means matching the tone and ‘energy’ of a customer’s language.
- In an article released by Zendesk, the benefits of mirroring were described as “pull[ing] you [and the customer] together, so the customer feels that you’re “with” them and ready to help solve the problem. By contrast, when your energy is very different from the customer, it can create more stress and dissonance.”
- Insurance is serious and intimidating. Many customers who contact Virag’s team at simplesurance are confused and worried about their claim. These customers will use everyday language, and to make them feel more comfortable, Virag mirrors that friendly, everyday tone.
- However, another customer could be contacting Virag regarding a serious claim they want to be resolved for their business. This customer would likely use formal language. Mirroring the formality of the language will make this customer feel that their business will be taken care of professionally and efficiently.
- The secret to successful mirroring is discerning the intent or ‘energy’ behind why a customer is using certain words. You do not want to mirror emotions, assertiveness or aggressiveness, mirror the intentions causing someone to exhibit these behaviours. Is the customer worried? Is the customer needing a personal or professional touch? These are the questions that lead to successful mirroring.