Insurance Post

C-Suite - Insurer: Aiming for happy customers

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Customers must be the most important element of an insurer’s business

Customer complaints departments continue to be busy places despite most in the industry stating that they are ‘customer focused’. ‘Putting the customer first’ has almost become a cliché.

Improving service and delivering the value that our customers are prepared to pay for means we not only improve the perception of insurance generally, thereby encouraging customers to buy our services, but those that deliver will have a competitive advantage. Arguably as insurance products become increasingly commoditised, the way we meet customer needs in terms of service becomes more important.

Delivering value means firstly getting a better understanding of our customers and their expectations. Typically this can be done through primary research of existing customers and, perhaps more importantly, with those who are not our customers.

Understanding the customer is one thing – but delivering to their needs presents other challenges not least the mindset of “we’ve always done it this way”. These cultural difficulties within organisations are not easy to overcome. We are tackling them by building new ways of working, designing our processes and behaviours around the voice of the customers.

Our challenge as an industry is to create a customer-centric culture with accompanying business structures that encourage us to think about what the customer values and then to deliver that value.

For AIG it is not only about listening to our customers but also about thinking beyond insurance and delivering to needs. For example, over the past two years we have invested in a programme with the aim of creating a new culture of continuous improvement underpinned by teamwork, collaboration, communication, coaching and people management that allows us to deliver more of what our customers want.

Structurally we view the customer at the top of an inverted pyramid, the largest and most important element. We have been working hard to improve customers’ access to all levels within AIG by reducing the layers of decision-making within the organisation. Our objective is to be more accessible and quicker at making better decisions by involving our customers.

It will always be true that you can’t please all customers all the time and that there will always be circumstances that challenge our ability to deliver positive outcomes for all our customers nevertheless by organising ourselves to be more responsive we will have happier customers and, surely, smaller complaints departments.

Nicolas Aubert
Chief operating officer, AIG, Europe, Middle East and Africa

This article was published in the 19 June edition of Post magazine.

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