28th March 2023
In our last blog in this two-part series, we discussed the importance of identifying and supporting vulnerable customers in the insurance sector. We looked at the challenges of identifying such customers and explored some of the strategies that can be put in place to ensure their needs are met.
With the FCA’s new Consumer Duty set to usher in a new paradigm shift for the way financial services firms must operate, it’s clear that organisations can no longer afford to overlook the potential vulnerability of their customers. However, in order to effectively support such individuals, you need to ensure that your employees are adequately supported, too.
There are no two ways about it, employee resilience is an essential component of any successful customer support strategy. This is especially true when it comes to supporting vulnerable customers, who often require additional resources and care – here’s why:
Given the nature of their work, insurance professionals are likely to encounter conflict and challenging behaviour from vulnerable customers on a daily basis. After all, if a customer is going through a hard time or is under financial pressure, there is a higher chance that they may react in an aggressive or confrontational manner.
While this is understandable, your staff should never be put in a position where they feel threatened or unsupported. It is thus essential to equip your employees with the necessary training and resources to adeptly manage any difficult conversations or issues. Doing so will help them be better prepared for these situations, ensuring that they can provide excellent customer service.
Beyond just handling conflict and challenging behaviour, employee resilience is also key to improving staff retention rates. After all, no one likes working in an environment where they feel unsupported or overwhelmed. By providing employees with the resources and training they need to effectively manage their workloads, you can make sure that they are happier, more productive in their roles and more likely to want to stay.
This means that all of the skills, knowledge, and expertise these individuals have accrued over the years are retained, creating a strong foundation for customer support. Not only will this ensure key customer relationships are maintained, but it also means that you don’t have to constantly recruit and train new staff members.
If your firm has adopted a remote working model, resilience is even more important. That’s because individuals who are working remotely often feel isolated and unsupported, which can lead to stress and burnout. Throw in the added pressure of supporting vulnerable customers and you can see why providing your staff with the tools they need to remain resilient, motivated, and engaged is absolutely essential.
Now that we’ve looked at the importance of employee resilience when supporting vulnerable customers, let’s take a look at some strategies you can use to boost it:
Perhaps the most obvious yet important way to support your staff is by providing them with regular training and access to resources. For starters, all staff members should be trained on how to identify vulnerable customers, including the main characteristics/traits that we discussed in our first article. Additionally, your employees should also be well-versed in the techniques and strategies that your firm has in place for supporting these individuals.
Apprenticeships are a great way to offer ongoing skills development, as they give your staff access to on-the-job learning and resources. You can also look into providing skills and knowledge burst via digital modules supported by virtual workshops or seminars to provide a safe environment in which to practice and apply learning – this is also a key way to ensure that everyone is up to date with the latest best practices in customer service.
Mental health problems are on the rise. As such, it’s important to have programmes in place to make sure that your staff members receive the support they need. Such initiatives could include providing access to mental health professionals, establishing a ‘buddy system’ for staff members in need of extra support, or organising regular team activities.
As mentioned, some customers may become aggressive or confrontational as a result of financial pressure or other issues. It’s important to have systems and procedures in place to better manage such behaviour, as well as provide your staff with the necessary training and resources to build their confidence to handle difficult conversations. Have clear guidelines that empower your employees to take action if they feel like they are being treated unfairly or threatened in any way.
Finally, if your customer service team simply does not have enough hands on deck, then it is likely to put a strain on the individuals who are required to cover more shifts, take on additional tasks or constantly work a backlog. With this in mind, make sure that you have enough staff members available to handle customer queries in a timely and effective manner. Leaving customer service staff feeling unsupported or overwhelmed can have a detrimental effect on morale and will also impact the level of service you provide to your customers.
Supporting vulnerable customers in the insurance sector is crucial, but it cannot be achieved without first ensuring that your employees are adequately supported and resilient. At Davies, we are able to assist you in boosting employee resilience through upskilling initiatives, as well as offering resource support to address any staffing issues.
Get in touch today and one of our team members will be happy to discuss your requirements and help you create a tailored approach for supporting your staff.
In a sector where reputation, trust, and public perception are fundamental components of business success, it is essential that insurance firms have strategies in place to ensure their customers – and colleagues – are looked after and supported where necessary. Not only is this a regulatory and legal obligation, but it’s simply the right thing to do.
If you want to learn more about building a resilient customer experience, we have recently published a white paper that covers the moral, legal, and commercial drivers behind creating an improved CX, as well as practical advice on how you can implement such initiatives.
Strategic Client Director – Insurance
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