Mind the gap bringing customer service back up to speed

Customer service excellence. It’s that Mecca that every business – well most, anyway – aim to achieve. Customer expectations and requirements are always changing and organisations need to change with them. Change has certainly happened over the past couple of years, but statistics show that this is perhaps not always in the right direction. 

When it comes to the overall customer service picture, UK consumers are fed up with companies using Covid as an excuse for bad service. Fact. The UK Institute of Customer Service reports that, in their survey of 10,000 consumers, the number of complaints about poor service in the last six months was at its highest level since 2009.

Transferring operations to employees’ homes has certainly been a challenge – especially in those first few months – and in some organisations it has been nigh on impossible. But certainly when it comes to service-led businesses, such as insurance broking, with the right processes and support in place, it can work. That’s what our members at UNA Alliance have found. Recently, we asked members for reflections on the pandemic, and for their customer service success advice… 

Look the part to think smart

It’s always important to turn up to work looking like you mean business. Your clothes can make you feel like you’re ready to take on the world…or put you in an awkward position when an unexpected Zoom call comes in. Getting dressed in the clothes we’d have worn to the office has certainly helped to remain focused and to remember service levels.

A well branded background

The background you may show on your videocalls is also something to bear in mind. Not only does it hide the kitchen sink and any other family members at home, if it’s well branded it helps customers feel that they’re dealing with a professional service.

Delivering on promises – keeping customers in the loop

When working from home, it may be easy to say you’ll do something that would normally take mere moments in the office, but doing it may take much longer when working from home. There’s no reason not to make things happen, though, and making sure you keep your customers informed of progress, rather than leaving them to wonder, is always better than procrastinating and causing unexplained delays.

Keeping customer communication open

Customer communication has always been a part of our DNA and feedback from our customers has always shown that the additional advice and ideas we share are well received. It could have been easy to cut down on communications when we started working from home, but keeping them going has given our customers a vital lifeline to normality. Regular newsletters, blogs and picking up the phone from time to time for a simple customer chat are all well worth the investment.

Checking in on colleagues

With the workforce busy in their homes, it’s not so easy to pass by their desks to check people are healthy, happy and supported. Agreeing regular catch ups, and calling occasionally in between, though, are essential for wellbeing, engagement and as a result productivity. Not just for those you’re calling, but for you as well. It’s good to talk!

Continuing customer service

At the start of the pandemic, the network of insurance brokers at UNA came together – virtually of course – to put battle plans in place that would ensure a consistent level of service for our customers while our people were working from home.

Tim Ryan, the Executive Chairman at UNA, sums it up: “Looking at our members’ feedback on platforms like Feefo, we’re pleased to see a continuation of the excellent service level reviews that we have become accustomed to. Our people have worked from home with the same can do attitudes they delivered daily in the office.”


Reflecting for change

In today’s digitally connected world, the broker community has managed to redeploy people to work from home, delivering on service and continuing communication with customers. It hasn’t been a piece of cake. The changing landscape has meant that insurers have had to make late decisions on cover and rising premiums have ensued. Brokers have been working harder than ever to make sure clients and customers are catered for. As with any challenging period, the way in which we respond highlight either a positive outcome or a requirement for change. As we move further into the realms of returning to the office – or a hybrid solution – we must ensure excellent service and timely communication continue – for the wellbeing of our businesses, our people and our customers.