Insurance company QBE Insurance Australia is on a mission to deliver a transparent customer experience. Speaking at the Customer 360 Symposium, Kathryn Wood, Customer Experience Program Lead at QBE Australia, stressed the importance of transparency when interacting with customers.
“What we’re trying to do is ensure all of our interactions with the customer are transparent. When you think about transparency, that’s about building trust. It’s about saying, ‘We’ve made a promise to you.’ The lovely thing about insurance is that we sell a promise. We don’t actually sell a physical product per se,” said Wood.
Processes and empowerment are pivotal to holding good on promises at QBE. “How do we set expectations correctly? How do we empower our agents or our underwriters to have conversations about, ‘Here’s the process that will be followed and here’s what will be delivered at the end of this particular interaction’? We need to make sure that all of our communications are relevant. Rather than forcing a product on a customer, or making them adhere to our processes, it’s about making sure we have enough flexibility and adaptability to make decisions for our customers that match their individual needs and suit their lifestyle.”
CX in the contact centre
Contact centres are a vital part of the customer experience for insurance providers. QBE currently has operations in 37 countries around the world including Europe, America, South America, the Philippines, and emerging markets such as Hong Kong with contact centres in most of those locations.
“We’ve got contact centres pretty much everywhere,” said Wood. “It means that should there be a catastrophe, should there be an incident in any location, assuming that we’ve got common processes, we’re able to switch out calls to whichever site is best able to manage.”
And contact centres hold a special place in Wood’s heart after looking after that part of the business when she first joined QBE. Today QBE contact centres rely on the Interactive Intelligence platform to better service customers, particularly important when managing insurance claims that can play out across many months and even years. In such instances, the platform helps consumers to connect with a single ongoing case manager.
Wood explained: “Think about it this way: I’m the consumer and I dial a number. When I dial that number, I get into a call centre and that call centre could have 500 people, which means that I have to repeat the conversation that I’ve had three times already. We have put in preferred agent routing, which means the agent is able to say, ‘Hi, my name’s Katherine. Here’s my phone number. Call me anytime. If you don’t get me, you’ll get one of my teammates, but that being said, the majority of the time, you’ll actually come through to me and I can maintain this relationship’.”
In terms of tracking the performance of the contact centre staff, QBE measures Net Promoter Scores (NPS). “We have a look at our NPS at the end of each episode,” said Wood. “Once you’ve finished a claim, you get a survey. How was the claim? Did it meet your satisfaction? Any recommendations, etc? After every single interaction, we will get our customers to write how that interaction occurred, which means we can have coaching and empowering conversations with our people to say, ‘Okay, let’s re-listen to this. What could we have done differently?’”
QBE also utilises voice to text which gives customers the option to leave a five-second verbatim response to the transaction. QBE then takes the data, interprets it, and runs fuzzy logic across it to see where systematic challenges exist and where process improvement is required. A solid 62.3% of QBE customers take up the offer to provide feedback.
Fresh blood driving CX at QBE
Wood moved on from contact centres to managing the general insurance claims division for the business and for the past four months has been heading up QBE’s customer experience program. Also new in his role is QBE CEO Tim Plant who took up the post in August 2015 and is helping continue the drive towards putting the customer front and centre.
“As an organisation, we’re looking at how we can apply design thinking and human-centered design methodologies internally to better understand the customer journey,” said Wood. “What can we do to ensure that, at the right touch points, we’re actually connecting with customers on an emotional level and providing solutions that suit them, as opposed to products we think fit our core capabilities? It’s the ‘outside-in’ versus the ‘inside-out’ view.
“Tim’s mantra is very much about making QBE very customer-centric. People who work in the industry or watch the industry would know many of our competitors are starting to put the customer at the centre. However, QBE is a little bit different in that the majority of our market isn’t consumer-based. We actually interact more in the intermediary space.” While QBE offers home and motor insurance for everyday Australians, the company also works with small to medium enterprises and insurance brokers, as well as dealing with the workers compensation space liaising with business and the government. While QBE’s definition of a customer is broad, research has led the company to consider all of these relationships in its marketing.
While QBE offers home and motor insurance for everyday Australians, the company also works with small to medium enterprises and insurance brokers, as well as dealing with the workers compensation space liaising with business and the government. While QBE’s definition of a customer is broad, research has led the company to consider all of these relationships in its marketing.
“Regardless of whether you’re marketing to the corporate or pitching to an intermediary, the reality is everyone is a consumer and we all base our decisions on our own consumer experiences,” said Wood. “If I’m the procurement manager who’s talking about a large contract, I will reflect on my consumer experience with an organisation while making that decision. With that in mind, we’ve very clearly gone out to market and said we want to now be known, not only as a top ASX organisation with financial strength behind us but also as a customer experience organisation and a brand that people can start to connect with.”
Kathryn Wood - Customer Experience Program Lead, QBE Australia
A driven customer experience professional, Kathryn is committed to delivering innovative solutions that exceed customer expectations while returning sustainable bottom line results.