Keeping the silver line open - listening to our older customers

On National Customer Service Week, Vicki Heslop talks about the importance of listening to our older customers

Vicki Heslop“Thank you for having accepted me as one of your motor insurance customers as well as for enabling me (a near octogenarian!) to gain some confidence in my abilities to surf or search the world wide web!”

'And so began a wonderful thank you letter from a customer who recently took out a policy with our Provident Insurance direct brand.   For me it was a sure sign that our “simple and straightforward” strapline is more than a phrase, it’s a promise and one we’re living up to for our customers young and old.

We spend a lot of time thinking about millennials, and rightly so, they are our future customers and their needs can differ greatly from the generations of insurance customers who have come before them. Younger people often process information differently, have different cover needs and want to purchase their insurance in more efficient, quicker ways than ever before. In many respects they are a different breed and do require different levels of customer support; millennials would increasingly rather service their policy almost entirely online, only speaking to a person when the worst happens and they have an accident, at which point they expect the same level of reassurance as anyone would at this time.

But as well as chasing the millennials, we must remember that we have a group of customers for whom digital may not be better, forget smart phones, some of them might still be getting to grips with internet basics, for this generation personal service is key and human interaction can be invaluable to their experience.

We recently invited The Silverline to join us to run a workshop with our customer-facing teams on how to offer the best possible support to our older customers. I’ve always encouraged my teams to treat every customer as well as they would their own family, but it can be difficult for people, especially a young team, to truly understand what it feels like to be older and potentially vulnerable too and to use that knowledge to provide the best possible support for these customers. 

During the session, The Silverline team gave us a powerful demonstration of how much life can change as a person gets older and they lose the ability to do more and more of the things they love. A horrible thought but for some, a conversation with one of our claims handlers might be the high point of their week.  The session highlighted that although these customers might occasionally go off track or call every day sometimes all they want is for someone to listen and empathise with them.

Our octogenarian customer also reminded us how important it is to have a clear and simple website, with everything clearly posted and explained in plain English.

As someone who’s grown up with the internet, sometimes I forget that for some people the web is a completely alien concept. It’s fantastic to embrace new technology, chatbots, virtual reality and integrated smartphone apps but we also need to make sure that these aren’t presented in a way that bamboozles internet novices and that there are other options open to those customers.

It’s important not to stereotype the older customer, some of whom are enthusiastic adopters of new technology and equally savvy as millennials at using it, the key is to ensure that everyone is treated fairly as an individual with no preconceptions.

 Sessions like the one we had with The Silverline are fantastic for helping us to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers, we pride ourselves on being a company of real people helping real people but we can only do that if we  take steps to understand and empathise with different sections of society adapt to their different needs.'

 

-Ends-

 

Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance Plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France and served 11.5 million policyholders, generating over 16.4 billion Euros in premiums in 2016.  

Covéa Insurance handles the insurance needs of over 1.3 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, designed to meet the needs of most individuals and businesses. Employing over 1500 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and featuring in the 2015 and 2016 Sunday Times Top 100 Mid-sized Best Companies to Work For. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In January 2016, Sterling Insurance Company Limited became a fully integrated part of Covea Insurance Plc, following a Part VII transfer under the Financial Services and Markets Act. Sterling Insurance was voted No. 1 in the Commercial and Personal Lines 2015 Insurance Times Broker Service Survey and Covéa Insurance was awarded the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year Award at the 2016 British Insurance Awards.

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