View All Blog Posts

Demonstrating care throughout the customer ecosystem

By: Ann Freeman, Executive Director, Marketing, Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions

We’re all familiar with the term “the customer is always right” and many leading brands have made the customer experience the centerpiece of their mission. Yet the term is predicated on a transactional relationship; a belief that the customer knows what it is they want as well as the expected service. But, based on my experience in the insurance, benefits and financial services industries, I believe customers approach a company seeking guidance. And the way we go about offering our services is ultimately as crucial as what we ultimately offer.

We recently conducted research* to determine what factors influence employees’ enrollment decisions. Our findings clearly pointed to the powerful role of authenticity, caring, and providing personal decision support. The research indicated that when employees feel supported, assured and safe, it can go quite a long way in an organization, translating into higher productivity and retention. 

Here are some ways that I believe we can demonstrate this sense of care throughout our industry’s customer ecosystem of vendor partners, brokers, employers and employees.  

Listen actively and regularly

Benefits experts who listen and are responsive and efficient can in turn help employers and brokers demonstrate care for employees.

Remember that emotions matter

Most of us recognize consumers make purchases based on brands’ emotional appeal. But remember that employees don’t turn off the “consumer” side of their brain when they go to work. When employees feel positive about something, they connect and become more emotionally invested in it. Our industry can’t lose sight of the fact the employees never stop being consumers.

Keep it simple

Our research demonstrated that both employees and employers appreciate a simple and efficient process for making benefits available and need clarity around which situations benefits cover. Partnering with a vetted carrier who “gets it” can give employees a “go-to” for questions and education. 

Make it personal

Despite living in a hyper-connected world where information is constantly at our fingertips, employees still value personal touch. We found more than half of employees said they prefer in-person contact with the HR department or benefits communication provider for assistance with their benefits. This presents a unique opportunity for all of us to be viewed as trusted advisors, helping employers maximize this personal connection with their employees. 

It’s time to recognize the striking distinction between wants and needs. Customers can tell you what they want, but often cannot articulate what they need, because they don’t always know (or understand) what’s available to them. And that’s where our job begins. It’s up to us to close the gap for our customers; to help them with what they need so they can ultimately get what they want. 

About the author

Ann joined Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions in December 2016. She leads the voluntary marketing team through corporate marketing initiatives including strategy, navigating current trends and market planning. Her team handles enrollment communication strategies, and broker and employer marketing, social media and communication campaigns across all marketing channels. Ann brings extensive consultative experience from the financial and insurance arena. Prior to Trustmark, Ann led consumer and producer marketing for life and retirement at Allstate. Ann holds a degree in journalism and advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently the Chair of LIMRA’s Annual Marketing Conference.

*Protect me. The Powerful role of care and personal support as drivers of voluntary benefits purchasing decisions and financial wellness for employees and businesses. 2017.

Posted on October 26, 2017 in Customer Service Industry

Tagged as caring customer service listening value creation