Off Center
After embarking on a robust voice-of-the-customer project, Philadelphia Insurance Companies is more agile in identifying and addressing problems, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

(NOTE: This article was originally published in 1to1Magazine in August by 1to1Media, who has granted Off Center permission to use it here. The article, originally titled “Philadelphia Insurance Companies Listens to Its Customers”, was written by 1to1Media’s Senior Writer Cynthia Clark.)

It's not always simple for businesses to sift through the mountains of information that customers are providing, understand what clients are saying, and then build strategies that address problems. Philadelphia Insurance Companies wanted to find an efficient solution to get actionable data based on what its customers were saying. Although the insurance carrier was collecting feedback through several channels – including annual, transaction, and web surveys, as well as mystery shopping – the organization wanted to find a one-stop-shop solution to analyze its customers' feedback.

According to Seth Hall, the company's vice president of operations, customers were filling out surveys, and the data which was being collected failed to effectively measure performance and identify areas of improvement. "The results were objectively captured,” says Hall, “but there wasn't a lot of information as to how customers perceived the company, whether they were pleased with the level of service, and whether they would recommend us to someone."

Additionally, while the company was receiving thousands of calls every month and hundreds of emails daily, these multiple sources of customer feedback made it difficult to develop a holistic and enterprise-wide analysis of what customers were saying. On the other hand, Philadelphia Insurance Companies was putting a lot of emphasis on internal scorecards to determine whether processes were going according to established standards – e.g., the length of time it took the company to respond to a claim. Since the company was doing well and scorecard results were good, it was challenging to decide what changes needed to be made.

Making the Most of Client Feedback

Soon after joining the company in 2009, Hall noticed that the results outlined by the scorecards were not always reflected in the organization's results. He quickly realized that Philadelphia Insurance Companies was missing out on important feedback because of the lack of a reliable VOC program that could provide data on which to base decisions and to determine the success of new projects. At the end of 2010, the organization implemented MarketTools' customer satisfaction program, allowing the insurance firm to capture key data from customer feedback, which is aggregated and visible in real time. This allows the company to notice trends quickly and to be agile in taking the necessary action. Hall says low scores trigger automatic emails to the responsible person, who can then contact the customer, get more information, and resolve the issue.

The new information allows Philadelphia Insurance Companies to know exactly how it's doing in the eyes of its customers rather than depend solely on the internal scorecards. "We match our internal scorecards with external feedback," says Hall. This new strategy has led to some discoveries of problems that might have cost the organization money. Scorecards, for example, indicated the need to add more customer reps since the average speed of answer had slipped. But upon reviewing its VOC data, the company realized that first-call resolution was a much more important indicator of customer satisfaction. "This data was instrumental in us changing the metrics/goals and thus not hiring the additional staff we thought we needed," Hall explains.

Another incident that reiterated the importance of having a VOC program took place October 2011 when the company started administering a collector car insurance product. In order to cut costs, the company revised its policy of sending auto ID cards with the renewal notice. According to Hall, VOC feedback was astounding, with about 10 percent of the 130,000 policy holders criticizing the decision. This real-time feedback allowed the organization to quickly reverse its decision and just seven weeks after launching the new policy start sending out auto ID cards. "Without a VOC program, it would have taken us much longer to react, losing customers and upsetting people," says Hall.

VOC feedback has also indicated that some customers feel it can be difficult to get information from the company and contact the right person. "To remedy this we are now putting together targeted and transactional surveys to find out what exactly we can be doing differently, and obviously better," Hall says.

Although Philadelphia Insurance Companies is retaining its internal scorecards, it no longer needs to base all its decisions on these results. In fact, the scorecards indicated no major billing issues while the VOC program found there to be more negative comments surrounding billing than anything else. This is the information the company needed to start working on a new billing system that is expected to launch next year.

The impact of listening to customers has been noticeable, and Philadelphia Insurance Companies has seen an increase in NPS scores – from the mid to upper 40s before implementing the VOC program to 51 at the end of last year.

A Client-Focused C-Suite

In a bid to solidify the trust that customers have in the company and improve the one-on-one relationship, C-suite executives have been at the forefront of reaching out to clients who leave less-than-stellar feedback. According to Hall, customers are surprised to be receiving a call from the company's hierarchy.

Such a policy makes it clear that the company is not afraid to apologize for its mistakes, says Hall. "Although we do a lot of things well, we aren't perfect, but we're going to call you, apologize, and fix the problem. And we'll do it very quickly."

(Reprinted with permission by 1to1Media.)

JR Hardenburgh
11/26/2012 10:56:29 pm

Great article with some useable insights, especially prioritizing FCR over ASA

11/26/2012 11:25:40 pm

I won't say thanks, JR, since I didn't write the piece this month -- but I'm glad you liked it! And yes, it's good to see orgs that GET the FCR/quality component of service and don't just dig their claws into straight productivity metrics.



4/25/2013 11:33:50 pm

Thanks for posting, I had a quick look at your article and found it very interesting

5/21/2013 04:23:15 pm

An award given monthly for the best call for a specific topic. An example of a specific type is a high bill call. The winning call is chosen by a committee of fellow phone reps who listen to the call and decide if their peer was able to help out the customer. Prizes include movie tickets, lunch with a supervisor, the rep’s preferred schedule for one week, and an extra-long lunch hour.


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