What expectations do clients have regarding the services a company provides?

Most expectations spring from a two way contract dictated by “I give you this so that you give me that in return.” I am customer service practitioner in the insurance industry and our industry is one of those that has over a long time, has shot itself in the foot. With the low insurance penetration of less than 4% in Kenya, most of us only take the obligatory insurance packages (car insurance as a state obligation or life/medical/personal accident insurance as a mandatory employee package), and avoid or postpone those that we could take out of our own free will.

We have observed over time that customer expectations in the insurance industry are rarely fully met. When a customer buys an insurance cover of any nature, exactly what is in it for them? Is the fear of the unknown (death, accident, loss of income or property, illness expenditure) enough to make one buy insurance?

The answer is a big NO! The expectation that insurance will take care one’s beneficiaries upon death is not the number one reason that would make customers take up a life insurance cover.

So why are many people not taking up insurance, out of their volition? Why are some past insurance clients bitter? Why are some clients cancelling their existing insurance contracts or painfully looking forward to the maturity of their policies?

The answer to the above critical questions lie in the way insurance has been fronted to clients versus the reality that comes up either during the cover period, claim or maturity (expiry). Clients expect to be served professionally. The initial client touch point whether it’s a sales person, client service staff or at the contact center has immense power to make or break the relationship.

This customer contact will determine the perception that the prospect has about the intermediary staff, the company and insurance industry as a whole. Lies, undisclosed or improperly explained insurance Terms and Conditions and failed promises will ultimately reinforce or confirm then notion of unprofessionalism in the company and insurance industry as a whole.

Customers expect to be treated in a way that makes them feel important. Customers prefer solutions that are convenient to access and use. They simply want – simplicity. Customers expect their hard earned money to be well saved and earn returns where possible. They want speedy and reliable service – anytime, anywhere and anyway. Clients do not want solutions (and long explanations about how they will enjoy them) to be forced down their throats. They want to be given options. They want service providers to be their confidants and consultants.

There must also be a certain level of predictability in service – consistency. A customer is not just a number (a policy holder), they need personalized service that embeds elements of delight and enchantment. They want to be really listened to and be understood.

So, while the above expectations may apply across board in all industries, insurance grapples most with the desire to balance immediate revenues and a sustained customer experience. The good news is that the future looks bright with the changing patterns in the insurance industry ensuring that only the customer-centric companies will beat the competition. Customers are becoming more discerning and insurance providers must up their game.

This provides an opportunity for customers to rethink the biases they may have had against insurance in general. Let us all plan our future and manage our risks by embracing and taking up insurance and demand service excellence from our providers!

Written by:
Joseph Nyongesa
Branch Client Services (Kenya) Team Leader
UAP-Old Mutual Group