The Power and Potential of Customer Feedback | Season 2, Episode 2

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In today’s insurance marketplace, there’s incredible power and potential behind customer feedback. Insurers that analyze client insights and perspectives can drive significant change and facilitate world-class customer experience for their constituents. Listen in as host Janet Sachs, Sapiens North America Senior Marketing Writer and Tara Kelly, President and CEO of SPLICE Software, unpack how insurers can implement customer engagement best practices to measure impact and ultimately develop a customer-centric organization.

Host: Janet Sachs
Senior Marketing Writer
North America, Sapiens
Guest: Tara Kelly
President & CEO
SPLICE Software
The Power and Potential of Customer Feedback
Season 2, Episode 2
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The Power and Potential of Customer Feedback

Janet Sachs: Hello! Welcome to the Sapiens Insurance 360 podcast. I’m your host, Janet Sachs, Senior Marketing Writer at Sapiens North America, and I’m so glad that you’re out there listening; this is where we discuss the latest news, trends, and issues from across the insurance solutions and technology spectrum.

In the insurance marketplace, there’s incredible power and potential behind customer feedback. By analyzing key client insights and perspectives, insurers can drive iterative change and facilitate world-class customer experience, for policyholders and agents. On today’s podcast, we’ll be discussing that power and potential, as well as how to implement the best customer engagement strategies to measure impact, evaluate operational efficiency, and build a robust, customer-centric culture.

Joining us for today’s podcast is Tara Kelly, President & CEO of SPLICE Software. Tara is a serial innovator, published author, and believer in technology’s potential to change lives for the better. She has consistently channeled that belief into developing technologies that enhance operations, enable better service delivery, and improve the customer experience. This has resulted in her creating three customer experience companies and turning an innovative idea into a patented, proprietary technology that harnesses data streams to create personalized, automated messages.

Tara has served as a board member for the International Board for Voice User Interface Design, the Canadian Cloud Council, Technology Alberta, and is a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization. Her expertise combined with her understanding of market trends have allowed her to create dynamic solutions and successful teams, in her businesses and as a community leader on such volunteer boards including Food for the Sol, EO Water Walk, and Special Olympics Ontario.

Tara, we’re so glad to have you here with us today – welcome to the program!

Tara Kelly: Thanks so much, Janet. It’s great to be here.

Janet Sachs: So let’s dive in. We all know the age-old statement, “measure what matters.” But when it comes to customer service, what does that really mean?

Tara Kelly: So in the simplest of terms, it really just comes down to ensuring that your workflows and your customer journeys provide ample opportunity to give feedback that’s measurable – [and] that measurable part is important. One of the things that insurers are going to want to look at is the Net Promoter Score, commonly referred to as NPS. You can utilize NPS surveys to regularly collect feedback from customers. NPS provides a straightforward measurement and it’s very customer satisfaction-centered, and it allows you to easily identify areas for improvement. So some of the other important best practices that you really want to include when it comes down to “measure what matters,” when it comes down to feedback, I’m going to give you a quick 10 here.

So number one, really just utilizing customer feedback platforms, making sure that throughout the journey, again, the customer can share their experiences and their concerns. And then if you’re going to be using them, that means monitoring them and really actively responding promptly to those customer comments, whether they’re positive or negative. And number two, integrate the customer support team. Ensure that your customer support team is trained, that they can easily handle these inquiries and feedback. Ensure that they have the necessary tools and resources to address customers’ concerns promptly. This one’s really important, because it’s hard when you really care about the customer; sometimes there’s a tendency to overpromise and you’ve got to be careful. So ensuring [that] they have these right tools, critically important.

Investing in real-time feedback mechanisms is also a really big part; I’ll just go over them again. Investing in real-time feedback mechanisms is really important. So providing those channels where it’s really easy to have that feedback in real time. That includes things like live chat, two-way text, and wherever possible, really making sure you allow them to give and share feedback, even on those social channels or on review sites in real time. That real-time feedback allows for quicker responses and issue resolution. So investing in those mechanisms, making sure you’re in those channels where your customers are.

Investing in customer feedback and data analysis tools. Obviously, if you have a whole bunch of data coming in from a lot of channels, you’re only as good as you can understand and bring that data together. So purchasing and implementing analytics tools, making sure that you’re choosing the right partners, that you’re allowing the platform to do the heavy lifting for you. [It] really helps you identify those trends and common issues and areas for improvement.

Implementing a closed-loop feedback system. So NPS is really about that feedback loop. It’s that closed loop system. So this is really important to build in process or responsiveness that can really demonstrate your commitment to improvement.

This one, I think we know, it’s an important muscle, but regularly train and empower those employees. So it’s not just that we start them at the beginning ready for success, but it’s part of our regular structure. So training, empowering your employees to handle feedback effectively. Lots of awesome coaching opportunities naturally built in here.

Using technology for automation. This is a really important one. So leveraging technology to automate the collection analysis of these feedback loops. Automation can help streamline the process. It can free up resources to focus on implementing those improvements. Obviously, this is where SPLICE is really excited about the integration with Sapiens. Our series can be triggered seamlessly through multiple points in the journey. And so creating those automation opportunities wherever you really want that feedback is really important.

And then this one sometimes surprises people, but encouraging customer participation and co-creation. And so what does that really mean? Well, what we’re talking about is sometimes having that group, having that panel of customers that you’re talking to, prospects, whatever that is, and getting some of their feedback first and building in a customer effort score here, is actually a really nice fit. And so when you look at surveying, there’s a lot of great tools, but a customer efforts score, you know, how easy or hard is this to use? And then using that as your kicking-off place for some of those NPS or customer stats surveys works nicely.

Last two in this bundle! Regularly communicate changes. So really keep them informed. So if you have the opportunity to take some of that feedback and put it into action, make sure you communicate it. Make sure that everybody knows that. So when there’s new features, make sure that they’re really actively demonstrated and that they do address the customer’s concerns. So that’s a really important one. And then benchmark yourself against industry standards.

And if I was going to cheat and go to 11 and perhaps, I think this one’s most important actually, is create a feedback-focused culture, really fostering the culture within the organization that prioritizes customer feedback. Making a responsive feedback or value is key. So by incorporating all these strategies, insurance carriers can really create a more customer-centric approach and improve their responsiveness to customer feedback, ultimately enhancing overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Janet Sachs: Wow. So that’s a lot to unpack. Great points, though. So along with these important best practice strategies to analyze customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction, what are some good examples of change management strategies that can help organizations develop that feedback-focused culture?

Tara Kelly: That is such an important question! So yeah, change management can be hard, especially when the goal is lasting cultural change, right? I think [for] a lot of companies, it’s about becoming more agile and responsive while not overpromising what’s truly doable and in what timeframe can it be doable. So humanity has this growing expectation of immediate gratification, and that can be really tricky. So a change management strategy is really crucial for organizations looking to implement changes smoothly and effectively. So some of the top examples for change management and just to sort of, check off as you go, obviously start with that clear vision and purpose and really articulate it across the organization. And so this can really help employees understand why are we doing this? Why are you giving us this new tool you know, why does a survey pop up after chat? What’s going on? Where does it all come together? And then be sure to effectively communicate it. So that kind of goes to number two. It’s great to have a clear vision and purpose, but you need to effectively communicate it across all stakeholders using various channels. So things like meetings, newsletters, you know, your intranet, whatever you have on your online resources within your team, make sure that it really gets across the organization. And engage and involve those stakeholders. Involve your employees, those key people that are going to be part of the change process. Seek their input early, address their concerns, and actively involve them in the decision making as you roll things out. So sometimes that’s about how quickly you’re going to respond. How fast are you closing loop? Which channels are you going to be including? Maybe which business units are going first?  But really involve the stakeholders and then provide the training and development needed. So that kind of goes to number four, really providing the training and development that’s critical to ensure that you’re setting them up for success, offer programs.

And then leadership and support. So having leadership really support you and role modeling, that’s the kind of support that you really want to see. It’s not just what we say, but it’s how we live, it’s what we do. So ensuring the leadership is really behind you, their support is crucial in influencing organizational change. So really taking pause and making sure you have that leadership that you need and the support.

Establishing a change management team. And this is a little bit different than just necessarily, leadership support. But who is that go-to team that’s going to be able to answer questions? This team should include representatives from different departments within different levels of the organization. So really building out that change management team that’s going to kind of cheerlead and support this thing right through to success.

Addressing resistance. It’s going to happen. Change is hard, right? We said that. So ensuring that we identify key influencers within the organization who can help manage and mitigate the resistance. And then really, that’s going to get her done! But the truth is, we said, we want lasting change. So you really need to do some other things.

And that includes celebrating the quick wins! So as soon as you’re starting to see some wins, make sure that you’re monitoring and evaluating the progress and that you’re celebrating those wins. So part of that is around, you know, also establishing KPIs, key performance indicators, that you want to use to measure the success of this initiative. And that would have been part of your original communication.

You want to be able to embrace flexibility, though, and adaptability, because we’re saying change is important. It’s important to be responsive to our customers. So we really need to get that in our DNA, because you might need to tweak your program and that’s something that’s okay. That can be a good thing.

Fostering that positive organizational culture. This is a neat chance to really connect as a company from end to end. And so you want to make sure that it’s really fostering that unique culture of collaboration [and] innovation. Look at your old core values and the statements you used and ensure that you’re really maximizing some of your language and core beliefs that you want to really align around, and that helps you, really ultimately deliver the desired changes.

Establishing a feedback mechanism so that you can actually get important feedback from your old staff. Easy to build in. Critically important, seems obvious, [but] sometimes can be forgotten. And then documenting and communicating success stories. So part of celebrating quick wins and also building up longer-term success stories. Have that really as part of your cycle, and that will help dramatically with the longevity of your program and providing support and ongoing training. Ultimately, that’s how you sustain continuous improvement. And so continuous improvement ensures the organization remains adaptable and responsive and really sets you up for a lot of success.

Janet Sachs: Thanks for that, Tara. So lasting change apparently is hard, but clearly worth it. So here’s a burning question that I have to ask: What if your organization hardly gets any feedback?

Tara Kelly: Yeah. First, I have to tell you, it does happen. And that can really feel challenging, because you deploy this great system. Well, what to do is really fairly simple. Simple things can be hard, but you just need to be where your customers are. And when we think about that, you need to offer probably more channels. So perhaps you rolled out, you know, in a simple lineup of channels and you need to extend that. And so [it] can be anything from a call survey. It can be a mailed-out form with a QR code, maybe, maybe it needs to be more than that. So taking pause and really looking at where are my customers, what channel, what medium, and then are we giving them the ability to provide feedback there. So go ahead and take a look. It can be anywhere your customers are. So whether it’s, you know, again, QR codes on documents on the web, live chat, text messaging, email call center, be where your customers are and be sure you’re asking the right questions. Sometimes the question’s too big, too small. It’s just not engaging them. So make sure that you are where your customers are and ask the right questions. It’ll come together.

Janet Sachs: Great points, Tara. But another hard question: What if the feedback you receive is negative? Like if it uncovers challenging issues that may take a long time to rectify or improve or resolve?

Tara Kelly: Yeah, this happens, too. Never underestimate the power of being heard. So I think when we start surveying, we’re hoping to hear a lot of good things, but we’re also we’re also aware that we’re going to have some of that hard feedback. And we also know that maybe some of these things are going to be really hard to change, right? They won’t be things we can immediately change. And so, it is so true that there is a profound psychological impact on individuals by being heard. And this extends to various aspects of our well-being and interpersonal relationships. So some of those key aspects are things like validation. When we feel heard, we experience a sense of validation. It’s true for all of us. At the end of the day, our customers are prospects or policyholders. They’re human beings and we really want to reinforce their thoughts, feelings, and experiences as legitimate and important. And this validation contributes to a positive sense of self-worth, self-identity, and ultimately, a commitment and connection to a brand. Empowerment can really come down to an individual’s sense of agency and control.

And so knowing that their voice matters can really affect change and foster feelings of empowerment and motivate individuals to take further actions, positive actions, and that enhanced self-esteem contributes to the feeling with the brand and ultimately, positively impacts one’s self-perception and confidence. So it reduces that feeling of isolation. You know, we can look at studies, we talk about the fact that it actually [is] a stress reduction, and having improved communication helps promote feelings of openness and further communication and really builds out a positive relationship.

So, by giving our customers and our prospects an opportunity to be heard, it gives them that sense of control and encourages expression of their authentic self and ultimately, it kind of brings us to a place that we all care about, which is enhanced mental health. So at the end of the day, always remember your policyholders, distributors, your sales network, customers, they’re people, they’re human beings. And listening is a great first step before making the changes in your organization. And it really does help you embrace being a feedback-friendly, receptive, customer-centric organization. So get out there and get ready to listen.

Janet Sachs: So very true, Tara, so very true! Thanks so very much for speaking with us today, Tara. You’ve given us so much to think about in terms of the power and potential of customer feedback to facilitate world-class customer experience and loyalty. To our listeners, as always, thank you so much for spending your time with us here today. We love hearing from you, so if you have comments or would like to follow us on social media, please reach out to us on our channels. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, and thank you once again for listening. We’ve got more coming, so be sure to tune in next time to Sapiens Insurance 360.

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