“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”
Bob Marley, ‘Get up Stand Up’ paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.
I’ve always wondered how I might get to squeeze reggae deity Bob Marley into a blog about insurance. I think I may have just pulled it off. I’ll let you decide…
In a nutshell if you are in the business of boasting about how the service you provide is earth shatteringly brilliant and super fantastic, just consistently deliver it and deliver it well (I know it’s easier said than done).
For years the word ‘service’ has been a mainstay promise made by most companies operating in the sector. Which I guess given the fact that the UK is now a largely service driven economy is to be expected. That said, there is something of a service lag in the insurance industry when compared to other sectors.
Sadly I’m old enough to remember a time when service was still something of an anathema in the UK. Cars used to break down, television repair men did a thriving trade and the service received in restaurants was spasmodic at best. With the advancement of technology, increased competition and a greater focus, the service experience of most UK consumers across sectors has generally improved.
With the advent of greater transparency (which is only going to develop), the Web, Social Media, interventionist regulators etc, I am worried that there are some organisations in the sector that are not geared up to cope. Perhaps they haven’t appreciated that it’s simply not possible to ‘fool all the people all the time’.
Saying you live and breathe service and not delivering it just won’t wash in the years to come. Companies that don’t live by the credos they set out before the public will be found out.
No matter how outstanding a business is, there will be mistakes; short-comings, leaks and negative stuff will get out. Eventually the clients’ voice will be heard.
What to do? What to do?
Here are a few ideas to consider:
Run towards greater transparency
Build a framework that encourages feedback, this is priceless wherever it comes from. If you are truly client service centric you would want to know if you were failing to deliver. Seek data, gather it and use it before others do it for you.
Practical idea - Why not share your live Twitter feed in on your company in your reception, even if the odd message is negative it could be a great way of showing clients you are open and transparent about the service you provide? The few who see it in your reception will pale into insignificance when compared to the millions that could see it online. You will be applauded for your bravery and openness.
It’s been refreshing to see both Aviva and AXA embrace the ethos of openness and transparency with regards to the initiatives they have launched in connection with insurance claims.
Focus on ‘service reality’ rather than ‘service illusion’
Be concerned with what is actually happening in your business good, bad and ugly, and see how these things compare and contrast with your firm’s stated values. This will help you to bridge the gaps.
Unite your public and personal personas
Have one voice. A social media policy should include advice on how to act personally. Your employees are representatives of the brand at all times, even when they are off duty.
Bridge communication gaps
Do your best to eliminate gaps between the reality of the service you deliver and the rhetoric you use to describe it. Gone are the days where you will be able to distract your consumers with your story - they have plenty of ways to find out what is really going on.
Secrets aren’t exactly secret anymore
Don't be seduced into thinking that information is secure and safe and that secrets won’t get out - they will. Much better to be prepared for when they do and have a plan in place.