Andrew Watkinson talks customer service
Published: 13 Nov 2017
Following our success at the 2017 Health Insurance Awards, Andrew Watkinson, Health & Protection Claims, Operations and Governance Director at Aviva UK Health, sets out what great customer service means to him.
You've successfully won the Best Provider of Customer Service award for the 2nd year running. What have you done to get your service right?
"Our teams create memorable experiences for our customers. They're crucial to our success. We sell insurance products but we're a service provider.
That's why we're committed to investing in our people. We've introduced new recruitment processes and development programmes. This ensures that we have the right people in the right roles. We play to people's strengths. A combination of the right skills and knowledge delivers great customer service.
Responsiveness is critical, especially at point of claim. So, we've also invested in best in class technology for our people and our customers. Workforce management tools ensure we have the right people in the right place, at the right time.
Our customers now have a range of contact channels; both online via MyAviva and offline. This provides them with the flexibility to manage their policy their way."
In terms of the day-to-day processes, what do you do that you feel makes you different?
"We’re obsessive about ownership and empowerment. We provide our people with the freedom to make the right call for our customers, safe in the knowledge they have a strong clinical support network available to help."
What do you look for when recruiting staff?
“It’s all about attitude. Our philosophy is to hire the ‘attitude’ and train the skills. I’d argue that most things can be learnt but having the right attitude and obsession for excellence and care is something that’s in our DNA.
It’s also about commitment. Our average length of service is around 9 years and around one in five of our team has been here for 15 years or more – some are heading upwards of 30 years!
What is lovely to see are generations of family members working together. We’ve got a multi-generational culture that’s built on mutual respect. I like that about our business, it’s about being part of a family."
Tell me about your telephony service. What changes have you made and what results have you seen.
"When it comes to PMI, it’s all about consistently being there when our customers need us. And ensuring they get the right care as quickly and as simply as possible.
We aim for ‘first point resolution.’ We’ve focused on upskilling our teams to enable them to deal with a broad range of customer needs. Our main claims team can now meet most customer demands, there and then. However more complex conditions will still be dealt with by our dedicated case management teams.
We combine clinical expertise with dedicated care and the emotional support that’s so critical for conditions like cancer and mental health.
It’s about providing excellent customer service with brilliant basics and touches of magic."
How do you make sure customers receive the most appropriate support for their condition?
"One size doesn’t always fit all. Some customers need a personalised treatment plan based on their individual needs. Take cancer for example. We’re openly embracing new treatments and technologies. As soon as we hear about a claim we work together with the customer and their consultant to agree the most appropriate treatment path. And, where we feel additional tests could help, we’ll discuss them. For example, we recently funded genomic testing for a customer – which helped the consultant recommend the most appropriate treatment for their condition.
For some conditions it’s not just about T&Cs, it’s about working together to help our customers get the right treatment for them.”
Our Back2Better service is another prime example of how we’re offering personalised care to aid better outcomes for everyone involved."
What's more important to you? Competitive price or service?
"I’m greedy; I expect both! But even as a Yorkshire lad born and bred, I’m not ashamed to say I’m prepared to pay more for premium service."
What's the secret to world class service?
"It’s about all the things I’ve talked about. It’s hiring the right people with the right attitude. It’s about investing in their skills and knowledge development and providing them with the freedom and empowerment to do the right thing for the customer. It’s about creating technology that adds value to customers and provides them with the flexibility that fits around them. But, ultimately, it’s about being there for the customer when they need us most."
What does the future of customer service look like for Aviva?
"I want people to know us for our excellent customer service first and foremost. We want to be the case study people want to emulate.
We’re committed to leading the way in healthcare claims management through whatever channel the customer chooses. We’ll continue to invest in our people and combine great technology with great care."
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