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Claims As Marketing, Part 3

Saturday, February 2, 2002 | 867 | 0 | min read

So what does time management mean to quality customer service? And is the problem really the angry customer? Rather, why is the customer (or claimant) angry in the first place? Our first article talked about claims as an extension of marketing. Our second article reviewed what happens when you force quality on a single instance.

This is the last of this series on using the claims department as a part of your company's marketing plan. Insurance is erroneously and routinely referred to as a "product". This is incorrect. It is a service. Repeat: insurance is a service. Ergo, quality claims management is quality service, is good marketing.

If you can imagine seeing your own people change (as the example in our last article showed) and providing empathetic, quality service to one customer, then they could do it for all your customers if they wanted to. But they don't want to.

Why? Because doing so would take too much time, and there isn't enough time. Isn"t it odd that in claims we are in the business of dealing with human suffering, yet we are trained to ignore it? Paradoxically, though, service behavior would change if the examiner knew who was calling would actually save them time.

Even when a company decides it is going to focus on customer retention the approach taken is often wrong.

Another example: A claims department requested a class on how to manage the angry customer. Top management felt that if their adjusters were well skilled in dealing with angry people, their retention rate would increase.

In reviewing the matter it was clear that the claims persons did not need a class on how to handle the angry customer. Management was astounded: "Our adjusters are always commenting on how often they have to deal with these angry customers and the claims managers say they spend a tremendous amount of time with angry customers."

Obviously the issue was not dealing with angry customers. The issue was why the customer was getting mad in the first place. Don't get the customer mad, save time. Often, claims departments, in name of saving time, provoke behavior in their claims persons that cause the customer to be suspicious, angry and demanding.

When we review time management, we inevitably are asked how someone can possibly return some 50 phone calls in a day?

What is obvious is that there shouldn't be 50 phone calls to be returned each day. What is going on in the claims process that is generating that many phone calls? Resolve that issue, and then you don't have the issue of a back log of phone calls to return, thus freeing up more time to provide quality claims management.

The solution is not a class on how to deal with angry customers. The solution changing the process in dealing with customers just slightly, and avoiding some simple common pitfalls, thus gaining the customer's trust, reducing their anxiety, saving time, and most importantly, increasing customer retention.

With communication advances, it is easier for the insurance customers to research rates and move from company to company. Everyone runs around trying to get new customers. The companies that focus on retention are the ones that will survive. In business school they teach that on average it costs five times more to get a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer. In insurance, after the policy is sold, it is the claims servicing that is the focus of the customer. That is what they are paying for. Use the claims department to sell that renewal, and save your money five times over. Author Cyndi Koppany is a partner in the firm Corporate Training Solutions. With her partner,Tina Chong, Corporate Training Solutions offers intensive claims department training programs. They can be reached at (323) 467-4430, or by e-mail at ckoppany@earthlink.net(Cyndi Koppany) or ctschong@earthlink.net (Tina Chong).


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