In a recent NMG survey1, advisers made it clear that they’d reconsider working with certain providers, based on their handling of customer service during the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps this doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but it does shine a light on why service needs to be a focus for advisers, their clients and of course, the providers delivering it – during a crisis and beyond.
Royal London’s Gail Brown and Richard Basham-Jones explore what exceptional service looks like, and the learnings they can take from their service response during the pandemic.
Ownership and accountability
When it comes to customer experience, we think the key to exceptional service is great people. That’s why we give advisers dedicated contacts that are on hand to support them and their clients every step of the way.
At Royal London, this means getting to know an adviser’s business model and personalising the service we provide based on it. This could be anything from providing them with weekly client reports, to piloting an approach to GP reports that suits their specific business.
We take this stance because we know advisers need to have confidence in the service we provide – and we believe that confidence can only come from working with people they know will do the right thing for them and their clients.
This includes pre-empting the journey to identify potential complications before they happen, while bringing solutions to the fore. Of course, sometimes things go wrong but having a person available to speak to, who’s willing to take ownership, is something that can’t be replaced by just ‘good' customer service – or technology on its own.
Great people backed by technology
Technology and great people need to work hand in hand. That’s why we use technology to free up people – so they can focus on adding value where it really matters most.
For customers, this could be providing information about their pension through our mobile app, but being available on the phone if there’s something they’d rather speak to a human about. Or for advisers, it’s providing them with responsive tools to make their lives easier, whilst having a dedicated contact available to talk them through how it works.
By using technology to do the heavy lifting - and freeing people up to build relationships, get to know an adviser’s business model or really deeply listen to a customer’s request - we believe we achieve the right balance between people and technology.
Stepping-up in a crisis
98% of our people were working from home within days of the lockdown, which meant we were able to deliver service as normal, at a time that was anything but.
During the pandemic, it’s been really important to help our customers make informed decisions – especially when long-term investments and protection are involved. By really listening to the requests and thinking about the implications, we’ve been able to help our customers at a really challenging time.
This is something technology can’t do. As a result, our call handling times during the coronavirus outbreak actually went up. While others might be concerned about an increased call length, we knew this should be viewed positively. Some customers even commented that we were the only person they’d spoken to that day. We were proud to be an ear in a difficult time - there’s no substitute for great people during a crisis.