By: Chris Dickinson, Senior Principal
During this unprecedented time, businesses all over the globe are experiencing major shifts in their business models due to COVID-19. For insurers, many are experiencing an influx of inquiries, policy requests, and are being impacted by unforeseen financial shifts.
Coupled with many states mandating work from home arrangements and shelter-in-place requirements, an increased volume can shake up an insurer who isn’t prepared to handle the load increase. Here, I outline three considerations during a time of need so you can best serve customers, avoid employee burn out, and continue business as usual—as best as possible.
1. Ensure your staff is healthy—and don’t burn out
As an employer during a crisis, your top priority is always to protect and ensure the well-being of your employees. Check-in with them often to help avoid burnout and field any concerns they may have. Consider their needs—appreciation, attention, time with family, and a manageable workload—and prioritize accordingly. Sometimes just letting them talk and vent can be all they need.
In a time of crisis, uncertainty, and fear, insurance carriers are in a unique position to serve as a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy forecast. Communicate the importance of this role to your employees—make sure your teams are clear that this is YOU have the opportunity to serve as trusted support to their policyholders. Review important items your employees can convey to policyholders, like if they have the security of guaranteed income and policy features that benefit them. Anticipate policyholder questions and arm your employees with this information so they’re not scrambling to find it or are panicked about offering the wrong information.
Identify themes from inquiries and socialize those – it helps to reinforce key messages with staff and to let others know that the TEAM is all in this together. With this type of crisis at-hand, the influx of inquiries may be overwhelming, so do your employees a favor and ensure they are supported and have all the information they need at their fingertips.
2. Keep customers a top priority
Aside from ensuring the health and well-being of your employees, keep a keen focus on customers and their needs during this time of uncertainty. Now more than ever, policyholders want to be reassured, whether it’s through a benefits review, policy evaluation, understanding hardship withdrawal privileges, or just to check their balances, etc. Be sure your team is not only prepared to tackle their most pressing questions, but that you have the proper number of employees in place to answer them—offering the consistent customer experience your policyholders need during this intense period in the market and world.
Different policyholders will require different plans of care. For instance:
• When it comes to life or annuity policies, be sure your team is educated of policies including a key one of “Am I covered if I die from Covid-19?” and what it might mean to the policyholder during an evolving global landscape.
• For those in the retirement space, don’t push to sell as your top priority. Remind them of their current investments and their long-term goals. Try to quell any panic sales by reminding them of their strategy, product features and how the market has rebounded historically.
• Group policies may see a spike in short-term disability claims; but, may see growth in all claim types. Ensuring you have the proper team members in place and triage protocols will help get you through peak demand.
3. Enlist additional resources during peak demand
To ensure the top two considerations are met, you must redirect and ramp up staff to help
• Avoid burnout and
• Meet customer expectations.
You can first look at places where there may be a lull in activity and see if resources can be cross-trained and allocated to heavier trafficked areas to handle any peaks. If you’re unable to add the proper help you need or you have an operations center that is dispersed, consider a new delivery model to maintain the same level of service you consistently offer all year by enlisting third-party resources with deep industry skills. This way, you can avoid significant learning curves in understanding your products, operations and customer needs. Whether it’s call center support, claims handling, or adding resources in other key areas to help with peak demand, an industry-skilled team can be just the boost you need to get your business over any temporary hurdles.
To learn more about adding key resources during peak demand, click here to be connected with a NEOS expert ready to help you during COVID-19.