What happens when things don’t go according to plan? For companies, variation can have a huge impact of how customers are treated, especially if those brands aren’t prepared to handle the changes.
A recent study by JD Power looks at customer satisfaction in P&C insurance. It found that the leading insurance companies excel because they are simply better communicators than other companies.
This was on display recently with natural disasters in the southern United States. That same study found that the lowest customer satisfaction scores for 2017 came from Florida and Texas. Think about what happened in those areas last year—they were hit by historic hurricanes that devastated the area and left thousands of people without homes. Hurricane Harvey alone cost more than $100 billion.
In both places, most customers didn’t have flood insurance, which led to even more calls to the insurance companies. Insurers simply couldn’t keep up with the number of calls, questions and claims being filed, so they had to outsource their communication.
Customers weren’t happy about having to wait to talk to someone and then finally getting someone who didn’t know what was going on. Many of these people had already lost everything, and now they were dealing with outsourced communication, upset processes, long claims periods and so much more.
The most unhappy customers happen when circumstances change and the company hasn’t planned for any variation. Employees aren’t empowered to help customers when something unexpected comes up that isn’t in their usual script. That leaves customers having to wait for a response and getting more and more disappointed as time moves on. There’s nothing more frustrating to customers than trying to call an insurer or other company and getting a message that because of high call volumes, the wait time is much longer. That basically tells customers that their time isn’t worth it because the company didn’t plan ahead.
When it comes to times of disaster, especially with insurance and weather, we need to plan for variation and disaster. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we can have a plan in place to help things go smoothly, no matter what happens. Taking the time when things are going well to put something in place for when the unexpected happens can make all the difference.
Disasters will continue to happen. All companies need to think about disaster planning and come up with a process for what to do when the unexpected hits. It might not be a flood or a hurricane, but things always happen to change the status quo, and the best companies are prepared to meet those changing situations.
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Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.