CUSTOMER SERVICE: Survey suggests ways to improve customer satisfaction

Jeremy Bowler, senior director of J.D. Power and Associates’ insurance practice, said his company’s latest survey of more than 11,500 people who’d had an auto claim in the previous 12 months indicates a number of things auto insurers could do to improve their customer satisfaction and retention.

They include:

Simplify the process. Get the claimant directly from the first-notice-of-loss to the shop, without having to deal with others in the claims process. Having people involved, Bowler said, adds confusion and repetition to the process for the consumer, and slows cycle time by as much as three days.

Sell better rental car coverage. Two-thirds of Millennials, and more than one-in-five older Americans, have no idea if they even have rental replacement vehicle coverage on their policy, Bowler said. Almost two-thirds of those with coverage get less than $30 a day – which results in a third of them paying some out of pocket for the rental. This translates into big drops in satisfaction. Those with no coverage, and even those who were only partially covered, had satisfaction levels 100 points below (on a 1,000-point scale) those fully covered. These under-covered for rental defect from their insurer within a year of a claim at three times the rate of those whose rental was fully covered.

Empathy and service. Consumers who have an agent want that agent to have a role in the claims process, so giving insureds the choice to report a claim to the agent rather than just a call center improves their satisfaction, Bowler said. Call center employees need to offer empathy and personal attentiveness, not just collect data. And the timeliness and explanation of settlement offers is often just as big a factor in customer satisfaction as the actual dollar amount.

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