Josh Stirpe – Active listening drives customer experience improvements

Active listening drives customer experience improvements

As an independent agent, your business is about more than just insurance. It’s about providing the kind of service and support that makes you a trusted partner to your customers.

At Safeco Insurance, we also believe in providing that kind of service — for both our agent partners and our mutual customers. And our closed-loop feedback process, used by several departments across all regions, is proving to be a vital tool in that effort.

What is closed-loop feedback?

The closed-loop feedback process allows us to listen to customer feedback, capture the details, take action and report back to the customer or agent. We ask for feedback from policyholders, then our front-line managers make follow-up calls to fully understand their experience with Safeco. After each call, the outcome is documented to help us take specific action need to further help our policyholder, identify trends, best practices, coaching opportunities and potential process improvements.

We implemented our closed-loop feedback process last year, and we’re happy to report that the process has had an immediate impact, most notably in Claims and our Licensed Sales Center.

“Closed-loop feedback has been a game-changer,” says Glenn Shapiro, Safeco’s executive vice president for Personal Lines Claims. “We get real-time feedback from customers and managers and act on it in real time. It shines a bright light on all levels of service performance. Our goal is to live out Safeco® service principles with every interaction; make it easy, build relationships and see it through.”

Safeco sends customers a survey via email after their interaction, asking them to rate their experience on a scale of 1-10. Our goal is to have 85% or more of customers rate us from 8-10. Any customer who rates us 1-6 receives a direct response from a manager so we can learn more about the issue. Some have been called within 15 minutes of submitting their rating. There’s a similar routine in place to ask for agency feedback for underwriting or your territory manager interactions, so for some of you, this may sound familiar.

Improving claims service using closed-loop feedback

Providing immediate response to the customer’s feedback gives us the information we need to do what’s right — and save the customer money. That’s the kind of response that reinforces loyalty, both to you, their agent and to Safeco.

Angela Hensley, Safeco’s vice president for Midwest Region Claims, hosts a weekly meeting with her team to go over closed-loop feedback survey data and determine action items. “You can reinforce service principles and get specific feedback when improvement is needed,” she says. “Negative feedback gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves, ‘How can we create a better experience for our customers?’ This is absolutely vital to our success.”

Benefits for selling Safeco

Safeco’s Licensed Sales Center — which writes business and then assigns it to agents —has seen benefits as well.

“Seeing exactly what the customer thought after interacting with Safeco really allows us to have impactful coaching conversations with our representatives,” says Josh Stirpe, director of Licensed Sales.

A prime example of useful feedback is when a customer says, “I wish the sales representative had given me more options.” That helps us ensure that we offer several solutions to a customer’s insurance needs — which can result in more business for both Safeco and independent agents.

The benefits aren’t limited to customers, however. In a future story, we’ll detail our closed-loop feedback process for you, designed to help improve our relationships and create opportunities for further dialogue.

How do you systematically listen to your customers and take action on their feedback at your agency? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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