The relationship between employee engagement and customer satisfaction has been well established, and it’s been shown that the link between the two is twice as strong when employee satisfaction is particularly high. This connection is especially important is the insurance industry, where customers rely heavily on an insurer’s employees to help them through emotionally charged experiences, such as a car accident or fire at home. Making sure that employees stay engaged on the job is a critical ingredient for building and maintaining successful customer relationships in a competitive industry with low switching costs.
The most successful customer experience (CX) programs look past using only customer feedback and draw on the valuable insights held by their employees. Yes, customers are good at telling insurance companies about what went wrong, but they have a harder time identifying the underlying root cause or management processes that caused a breakdown in the experience. This is where an employee’s insight and knowledge of internal workflows and policies becomes invaluable.
For example, imagine that a customer provides feedback about the length of time that it took to receive a final settlement payment once the claim was resolved. At first glance, it’s assumed that the delay was a result of inefficiencies in the company’s payment processing guidelines. However, additional feedback from the adjuster handling the claim shows that the customer requested the funds be deposited into a foreign bank account, which led to additional regulatory and compliance procedures and ultimately slowed down the processing of the claim. Thanks to the more detailed insights from the employee, the insurer can now focus on addressing the right problem and set clear expectations upfront with customers who have foreign accounts, rather than reworking their entire settlement process.
Insurance companies who can scalably activate the power of customer and employee insights and make it part of their operating model are guaranteed to see more positive gains. Employees who are more engaged tend to have higher productivity and less turnover, allowing them to deliver better experiences for customers. When employees are given a voice and asked to share their ideas, they are more likely to buy into operational decisions and ensure that plans are executed successfully, regardless of whether or not their suggestions were used. In turn, customers who are more satisfied, tend to stay with their insurer longer, are more likely to purchase multiple policies, provide more referral business, and cost less to serve than their less satisfied counterparts.
Many of the challenges facing the insurance industry today require a unique set of skills that are in high demand. Historically, hiring the best talent has always been a challenge for the insurance industry. That’s why today some insurers are creating innovation labs and digital business units to attract exceptional employees with the right skill sets. While these new offerings are beneficial, they are only part of the solution. In the long term, creating better work environments and having a strong customer reputation that employees are proud of is the only sustainable solution to closing the talent gap.
In the face of a quickly evolving landscape, engaging every customer and activating every employee is a surefire way to win in the market. If you’re struggling to see how this could work in your organization, just look to the the hospitality and retail industries for inspiration. There is a lot that insurers can learn from leaders in these industries, where the ability to deliver great experiences every day is mission critical to surviving.
While the approach will vary depending on the particular company, the best operating models for engaging customers and employees share a number of overall similarities. First, they regularly ask for feedback from a broad range of customers and employees. Second, they take advantage of powerful technologies that can analyze massive amounts of data and deliver tailored business insights to thousands of employees. When all of this is happening in real-time, it’s embedded into the daily operations of the company.
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