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We have often spoken about the disruption our industry is facing these days, which means that both insurers and intermediaries need to reconsider, renew and reinvent the way they do business. But where to start and how to go about it? Andrew Coutts, Head of Intermediated Distribution at Santam, shares his top tips on running a more client-centric business.
1. Understand what matters to your clients: Client-centric companies deeply understand their clients’ needs and deliver solutions for them. This often includes the bundling of support, such as advice, knowledge or other services, to help their clients to acquire the best solution and discern how to optimally use it.
2. Make proactive recommendations across a client’s life cycle: Recognise that clients’ needs change over time and use these opportunities to respond. A good example comes from Amazon, which combines clients’ purchase and interaction experiences with those of similar clients to create customised recommendations.
3. Empower employees: Client-centric companies give their employees the right tools, training, authority and accountability to address clients’ needs at the point of contact. This allows employees to make judgment calls and quickly solve problems within a specific context.
4. Balance efficiency with client-centricity: Be creative in finding equilibrium between answering to a client’s needs and driving business efficiencies.
5. Take a holistic approach: Understand that clients ultimately form perceptions of a company based on the whole company. As such, they expect a consistent and predictable experience across different departments and communication channels.
6. Go beyond selling insurance policies: A policy in itself is only a part of what clients really buy into and part of the value you have to offer. And it’s not only about ‘what’ you offer, in this new world, it’s becoming increasingly important ‘how’ you go about it.
7. Be consistent in your interactions: You don’t have to be perfect, but you need to consistently deliver to your clients’ expectations on the stuff that matters to them. Realistically, we won’t always get it right, but clients will forgive you if you have an existing relationship of trust and transparency.
An increasing need for peace of mind
Data published by the Temkin Group – following an analysis of 3 000 consumers and 600 companies in the UK – shows that the clients of companies who focus on client experience are:
What this is telling us is that irrespective of changes and differences in people’s attitudes, needs and behaviours, what all human beings have in common and will continue to value in the years to come is a necessity for surety. A deeply rooted need for peace of mind, knowing that someone they trust has their back.
“If you take the word ‘insurance’ apart, you will find that the word ‘sure’ forms a part of it. This means you owe your clients that level of certainty when you collect a premium from them every month. They deserve transparency in a world where a certain future is not that clear.” Professor Piet Naudé, University of Stellenbosch Business School.
In a world where consumers are in control, it is important for you to formalise the experience you create for your clients and to put processes in place to deliver this experience at each and every interaction. Remember that you can actively influence whether your clients have a good, bad or indifferent experience.
What to look out for in 2017
With continued regulatory and economic uncertainty still on the cards for next year, it’s a good idea to map out client experiences across all touch points, define and reinforce you unique selling points and cement client relationships. Santam is planning a number of holistic initiatives that will incorporate technology, product and process enhancements to help you offer value to clients to build trust and loyalty.
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