Articles - Your call is important to us

Hanging on the phone recently trying to get in touch with a help-centre, I found myself getting annoyed with the company as it casually wasted my time by clearly keeping its centre understaffed for the level of business it has. The constant apologies from the automated recording, which then tried to reassure me that I was important to them, actually had the opposite effect to the one presumably intended. It came over as wholly insincere and irritating; if I was that important to them, I felt, they could show it by answering the phone.

 By Tom Murray, Head of Product Strategy for LifePlus Solutions at Majesco.

 Despite this, I hung in there, and 45 minutes after I started, I finally was put in touch with someone who promptly resolved my issue, but I was left with a bad impression of the company.

 My experience is far from uncommon and shows how many companies are blithely unaware of how customer-unfriendly their organisations are, despite their oft-repeated mantras about putting the customer first. Saying that the customer is at the heart of your business is easy, and most companies do this constantly, but customer-centricity is a concept that is not simple to put into practice. Looking to the life and pensions industry, this is particularly true, where much of the jargon associated with the industry is opaque and difficult for the uninitiated to understand.

 The key to having a top-class relationship with your customer is the same as with any other relationship – the ability to put oneself in the customer’s shoes and understand how they feel when they are dealing with your company. The difficulty is that most firms have business processes that evolved to suit those delivering the service rather than being driven by the needs of those using the service.

 Life and pension companies often deal with the public by assuming the customers know why the sales and servicing processes are the way they are and are therefore not irritated by them. Thus, in many cases, their customer interactions come across as unnecessarily complex and very slow. It may be obvious to those who design these processes why some of them are complex due to regulation or underwriting demands, but little effort is put into explaining this to the customer. As a result, customers often feel that processes are unnecessarily slow and repetitive or even invasive of their privacy, leaving them with a poor impression of the company and less likely to return to do business or recommend the company to others.

 These cumbersome processes and their impressing become hugely important when a company decides to digitise its interface with its customers. Digitising the customer/company interface is a key driver of competitiveness in the post-pandemic world, and it requires a major revamp of current business processes.

 When rethinking how a company does business, it is too easy to prioritise operational efficiencies rather than the customer experience. How many companies really invest time and money to consider how the new solution improves the customer experience, ensuring that the customer understands each stage of the process and how they benefit from it? Yet this type of analysis is key to the successful deployment of new approaches. There is no use in having a very efficient system that delivers in-house savings if it doesn’t increase customer engagement; in-house savings only make sense if there is sufficient business for the efficiency to pay dividends.

 Insurers need to work with their solution providers to ensure that new products and services are customer-centric, designed with the customer’s needs at the forefront of the design process. Only then will the new approach genuinely benefit the end-user, delivering a better customer experience and increasing their level of engagement with their firm.

 We have to accept that protection and long-term investment and savings products are complex. These complexities require companies to follow specific protocols to comply with regulatory requirements. However, customers are liable to be disappointed or frustrated if they don't properly understand why each stage is required and what it involves.

 Sales of protection and long-term investment and savings products will increase if customers have a greater understanding of the complexities driving these processes. Insurer’s need to work with solution providers to ensure that their business processes make the customer feel that they are truly important to the company by ensuring their needs are a priority for their life insurer.

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