THE MAGAZINE FOR INSURANCE IT & BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS
Editor in Chief
Robert Regis Hyle
Michael P. Voelker
Jason T. Williams
ITA Advisory Board
Security First Insurance Company
Millers Mutual Insurance
Craig S. Lowenthal
Berkley Technology Services
Gary H. Ouellette
Union Mutual of Vermont Companies
Glatfelter Insurance Group
Kenneth B. Zieden-Weber
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June 2016 // Issue4 // Vol. 3
My favorite title for a blues song is, “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody
Wants to Die.” If we look at these contradictory attitudes from the perspective of cus-
tomer service, two articles in this month’s magazine might best be labeled, “Everybody
Wants Good Customer Service, but Nobody Wants to Pay for It.”
That’s not totally fair. Many carriers are doing the right thing for their customers.
Our cover story, concerning the ITA’s Bridge Award winners, The Motorists Insurance
Group, shows they care deeply about customer service and focus their attention on the
different customer channels. We also have a feature article on how some carriers have
begun to address customer service in the new era of digital insurance.
Too many insurers are stuck in the 20th century world of customer service, a place
where, if policyholders and agents didn’t demand certain aspects of service, those
services weren’t likely to be provided.
The view of customer service in 2016 no longer comes from comparing one insurer
to another. Such comparisons in the past likely stunted true customer appreciation.
Today, the industry is held to a higher standard, one that is not led by insurers or even
the financial services industry, but by companies in far-flung fields that no one would
have related to insurance in the past.
Insurers got away with poor customer service for too long and many remain stuck
firmly in the 20th century. Want an example? Call your insurer with a question and see
if you get transferred from one desk to another and have to repeat everything a second
or third time to each subsequent customer service representative.
That’s just a small example, but it shows the frustration customers go through,
particularly with companies that tell us through their advertising or social media that
we are the reason they are in business.
It’s no secret that customer service is harder today than it was in the past. It also
is more expensive. Many companies would rather spend their money to bring in new
business than retain their old customers. But among the changes insurers are facing
today, one area of particular importance is the transient nature of customers.
Many customers look only for the best price, which doesn’t always allow the insurer
to demonstrate their customer service skills. Still, carriers need to be ready to display that talent because those that don’t show a sufficient amount of respect for their
customers—particularly when it comes time to service a claim—will need to keep
drumming up new business to replace the customers who annually walk away. That is,
unless a bad post on a social media site bites them on the backside. All bets are off at
that point. ITA
Robert Regis Hyle
Too Many Insurers Singing the
Blues about Customer Service