How to Get Customer Services Fit for Crisis

COVID-19 is severely limiting personal contact with customers and raising new questions and fears. Given the technical challenges and the lack of resources, increased phone and email contact means that customer service centers are overwhelmed.

Customer service is often the decisive factor in a company’s ability – or inability – to attract and retain new and existing customers. During the lockdown many customers feel disconcerted and isolated, and they may have questions about the cover provided by their current insurance. Now it’s important for insurers to deliver on their promises, and maybe even exceed their customers’ expectations.

Three immediate measures insurers can take to be there for their customers in difficult times and strengthen the relationship of trust

Manage the deployment of resources across related operational units

With so little traffic during the lockdown there are fewer claims on vehicle insurance. For many insurers, this frees up resources in their claims service that can be quickly and easily deployed in customer services. Sales units also have less to do because acquisition work is difficult at the moment. Insurers should now be using these freed-up resources, deploying more sales-oriented staff in customer service roles.

Implement job rotation within the organisation

It’s not just the potential of related units that can be harnessed. The advantage of large corporate structures is that a network of broad skills is available. Actively inquire around the organisation and identify volunteer staff or staff with freed-up resources who have the right communications skills for direct customer contact. If Migros has clerks working the tills and McDonald’s staff are helping out at ALDI, McDonalds staff are helping out at ALDI, it should be possible to rotate staff within your organisation. You’ll be amazed at their flexibility and hidden talents.

Now’s the time to step up to the plate and communicate your promise to customers

Now’s the time for insurers to actively show that they’re there for their customers. Salespeople can use the time to offer their customers support. Free customer services staff can reactivate inactive customer relationships in the reserve portfolio. Use alternative means of contacting customers and shift inquiries from the phone to other channels. For example, publish FAQs or update the existing ones on your website, and actively communicate the fact to your customers via social media or in a newsletter.

Extraordinary times like these demand greater flexibility from companies, and involve greater risks. But at the same time, crisis are also an opportunity to position yourself with your customers by means of extraordinary measures. For many this may also be a chance to embark on long overdue changes. Your customers will thank you for it.

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