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Chuks Udo Okonta
Christmas and New year celebrations afforded individuals and corporate entities opportunities to express good wishes to people who impacted their lives and business. For corporate entities, it was a time to reassure loyal customers of better relationship in the new year. Aside, the presentations of hampers and other corporate gifts, organisations do send goodwill wishes to their customers who they considered reasons for their continuous stay in business.
While the act of customer relations has been imbibed by most business operators, some operators in the insurance industry are still struggling to embrace the culture and this is really impacting their operations negatively.
To ascertain how insurance companies related with their policyholders during the Christmas and New year celebrations, this medium interviewed some policyholders and our investigations revealed that most of the insurance companies did not in any way communicate with their customers.
Our findings showed that only insurance companies that are at the industry’s top echelon, had embraced this culture, whilst those at the middle and base, operate on just premium and claims basis. Which means, they collect premium, only to see the insured when there is claims to settle.
According to some of those interviewed, whilst their banks, pension fund administrators and other bodies, felicitated with them through sending goodwill wishes, their insurers, never remembered them.
They also stated that during their birthday celebrations, while operators from other sectors felicitate with them, they never receive any message from their insurers.
According to one of those interviewed, the poor customer relations exhibited by an insurer made him stopped the comprehensive policy he took for his vehicle. He noted that when he bought his vehicle, he took a comprehensive cover worth N250,000 and that immediately the premium was paid, he never heard from the underwriter until when the policy was due for renewal. This he said, made him changed the policy to third party which he backed-up with auto tracking device.
A journalist, told Inspenonline how he confronted his underwriter for not communicating with him whilst his motor policy last. According to him, he thought the policy was fake, as he never got any message from the insurer, only to be informed by his underwriter that the policy was genuine.
He. Noted that the member of staff of the underwriting firm pleaded for a second chance and that since he renewed the policy, he has never received any information from the company.
Assistant Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Tope Adaramola, said his underwriter has been relating with him perfectly. He applauded the firm and urged others to emulate the good work the firm is doing.
According to him, the firm on a regular basis does send help tips to policyholders, educating them on how to manage risks.
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Blue Konsult Limited, Chris Obi, believes poor customer relations and awareness contribute to the existence or thriving of other forms of assurances, like juju; ajo and isusu.
He said poor knowledge of insurance premium has forced people to seek alternatives, adding that the extreme religiosity of millions of insurable Nigerians is partly from insurance issues, which makes them to conveniently wish away the existence of risks in their lives.
“They will say “I reject it.” and coupled with low levels of disposable income, for many, they do not want to listen to insurance salesmen.
“The different forms of ‘isusu’ and ‘ajo’ available have replaced or scared offinsurance in several places.
“Some people resort to a doubtful and bogus “African insurance” or somepopular Juju, for personal protection instead of life insurance, auto, accident and property insurance.
“All these are losses to insurance, out of ignorance, disbelief, mistrust or previous bad experience from insurers,” he said.
He urged insurance operators to always engage their customers by listening to them, adding that without listening to feedback from customers, exceptional service may be obtained.
He said listening to customers is perhaps the most important part of design and strategy to deliver exceptional service and be successful.
Obi enjoined insurers to look out for and remove customers pain points by listening to them through questionnaires, phone calls, forums and other channels. He also canvassed the collating; analysing; interpreting and profiling the information so obtained, and passing the information up to senior management approval and implementation.
The Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, noted that good customer experience is essential tool for insurance growth, adding that the difference between great and poor customer service has always been clear, and businesses on the wrong end of this spectrum usually pay a price.