Sep 14, 2018

Customer Experience is Your Competitive Advantage

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By Mike Nelson, CEO of Global Travel Insurance and the Americas

In the consumer-driven digital world we live in, your customer experience is your brand. As Stephen Cannon stated over a year ago as the then-president of Mercedes Benz USA, “customer experience is the new marketing.”  I think Stephen was on to something.

According to Gartner, nine out of ten companies today must compete for business based on their customer experience. That’s more than doubled from four years ago. 1 And although many companies talk about customer experience, few have unified plans to address it. Even fewer companies excel at accurately measuring it and using their findings to adapt how they do business across the organization. 

Travel protection is just one aspect of a traveler’s journey, but for those who run into problems, it can be the most important part. How we treat your customers in their time of need is a reflection on us as well as our partners.

At Allianz Worldwide Partners, we’ve not only implemented a 360-degree analysis of satisfaction in our customer touchpoints, we’ve developed processes to continuously convert customer feedback into innovations and improvements. We strive to provide excellent service at every touchpoint, from first contact and purchase to providing travel assistance and handling claims.  Here’s how it works.

Analyze the Customer Experience

First, we listen.

We survey and gain insight from thousands of customers we serve every week using Qualtrics, a software program. We also monitor our phone interactions with customers through a speech analytics tools called Verint. This “voice of the customer” data is critical to our continuous feedback loop that informs decision making.  It enables us to sort and review customer touchpoints to identify pain points and, more importantly, prioritize actions to improve the experience. 

Here’s how we measure customer satisfaction:

- Record every call and use speech analytics to identify patterns and opportunities for improvement
- Monitor and track all comments posted to our social media accounts
- Survey every customer who files a claim on their experience
- Randomly survey 30,000 customers weekly, including those who purchased but didn’t need to use their insurance plan

Collectively, this data gives us a full, real-time picture of how our customers perceive our level of service. That’s critical, but what’s most important is having mechanisms in place to act upon it.  I’ll share with you three ways customer feedback can inform positive changes and how we did it.

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1. Resolve Customers’ Pain Points

Our customers frequently offer very specific direction on how to make our processes more user-friendly.  For example, in a recent survey we asked our customers, “how could we have made it easier for you to understand your benefits and services?”  Overwhelming feedback suggested that we include a bulleted list of benefits on insurance policies and simpler, shorter descriptions.  This is a simple improvement but something we didn’t realize was needed until seeing the frequent, consistent feedback.

Customers also wanted more clear verbiage to replace “insurance-speak.”  We completely rewrote our policy documents to make the policy language more intuitive and easier to understand, as well as create a “declarations page,” which is a brief summarized list of coverage and benefits.  This initiative was largely driven by our focus on listening for patterns in customer feedback and exploring ways to improve our touchpoints. 

2. Fill Gaps in Customer Needs

Customer feedback should also drive product evolution.  We analyze real-time data to identify potential gaps in coverage to make our products more useful and valuable.  As a result, we’ve made changes to align with what customers want, such as adding coverage for existing medical conditions to more products, as well as coverage for customers who must cancel their plans due to work obligations.  We’ve even made our popular “Cancel Anytime” product, which allows customers to cancel their trip for almost any unforeseeable reason, available to more customers booking travel on our partners’ websites.

3. Coach Your Frontline Staff

Most importantly, we use surveys and other analytics tools to coach our frontline associates on how they can better serve our customers.  Only by carefully listening, analyzing and reporting customer feedback can we provide our people with the information and training they need to make our service even better. 

A 2016 Salesforce study showed consumers are more likely to trust their friends, family, colleagues and online reviewers than the actual brand when it comes to information on its products or services.2 Now that the voice of the customer outweighs your own in the marketplace, do you like what you hear, and if not, can you fix it?

Only when a company is geared to respond and adapt to its customers’ needs can it control its own fate. As Forrester Research’s Kate Leggett wisely stated, “In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.” 3

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Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.
Insurance benefits underwritten by BCS Insurance Company or Jefferson Insurance Company, depending on insured's state of residence. Plan(s) may not be available in all jurisdictions. Allianz Global Assistance and Allianz Travel Insurance are brands of AGA Service Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson Insurance Company. Non-­Insurance benefits/products are provided and serviced by AGA Service Company. Consumer may be responsible for charges incurred from outside vendors for assistance or concierge services. Contact AGA Service Company at (800­) 284-­8300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or customerservice@allianzassistance.com.

Citations:

1. “Gartner Surveys Confirm Customer Experience Is the New Battlefield,” Gartner.
2. “Consumer Trust Is Evolving in the Digital Age,” eMarketer.com.
3. “Trends 2016: The Future Of Customer Service,” Forrester.

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