Building an ecosystem of excellence
While customer service is everything, its effectiveness comprises many different parts, as Sheldon Kenton of Global Benefits Group explains
Travel and global health insurance can help keep plans on track and prevent disaster, giving people and companies the freedom to explore the world without worry. However, this is only true if the provider offers robust coverage, alongside excellent service and assistance. To deliver on these essentials, insurance professionals require access to a service excellence ecosystem.
Maintaining a connection
The world is increasingly connected. People want to travel freely, or even live and work wherever feels right for them. Despite the apparent connectivity of the modern world, maintaining a global lifestyle isn’t always as simple as it should be – and when things go wrong, the disconnects become clearer.
Consider the following scenarios:
- You’re working in a foreign country and have health insurance through your employer. You’re unfamiliar with how the coverage works and don’t know how to use your policy. When you try, you face extra costs and are not sure why
- You’re injured in an accident while travelling abroad. Your health insurance should cover you, but there’s a problem: you can’t find any medical providers in the area who are in your network. Technically, you have coverage, but realistically, it seems useless
- You have a question about a claim that’s too complicated for online FAQs and chatbots – it’s also time-sensitive. You need to speak to a human, but due to the difference in time zones and limited business hours, you’ll be unable to reach anyone for days.
The power of partnership becomes critical in situations like these.
Do your partners measure up?
When clients buy insurance, they’re trusting you to provide them with the coverage they need. If something goes wrong, you’re the person they’ll turn to for answers. Many professionals pride themselves on delivering great customer service, but if this high-quality offering ends the second your clients need help, it’s useless. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; the same goes for professional relationships.
You can’t travel the world with clients, making sure their needs are met when they’re living and working on the other side of the globe, but you can ensure they’re in good hands. Below are qualities to assess when vetting partners:
1. Superior customer service
As you search for partners, don’t assume an insurance provider’s values are in line with your own. When forging relationships, make sure you work with organisations that value customer service the same way you do.
- How do they respond to claims? Excellent communication – including online reporting, status updates and access to real people – can put policyholders at ease
- Is assistance available anytime? Being able to access support anytime is always important, but it’s critical when you’re dealing with different time zones, holidays and business hours
- Can policyholders access support on multiple devices? When travelling, they may have limited options for methods of communication. There should be no limitations on the devices they can use to reach help. The capability to use any device to access member portals and apps is a critical part of truly accessible support
- Are online services well balanced, with access to real people? In an increasingly digital world, providers have rushed to develop digital services. This is fine, but in complex global care situations, easy access to a professional service agent empowered to make ‘live’ decisions in real time is essential.
2. Proficiency with international regulations
You must vet insurance providers for their ability to deliver coverage that will protect your clients wherever they go.
You might already check the financial stability of the insurance providers you work with – this is good practice. Since you don’t want to leave clients stranded, consider financial stability a basic necessity. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Expertise in global insurance is also critical. When you consider how complicated international regulations can be, it’s clear you need a provider with experience to navigate the complex and ever-changing issues that exist in health, travel and other types of international policies. This is particularly true for corporate clients, who don’t want to put global expansion plans in jeopardy by finding out at the last minute that their plan to relocate an employee from Country A to Country B falls foul of the compliance limitations of their current insurance carrier.
3. Coverage that crosses borders
Coverage is only as good as its network – for globetrotters, an extensive provider network is essential. You need an insurance provider with the connections to make this happen, and they should have expertise in international insurance, since customers probably won’t.
The US health insurance market is a prime example. Consider a worker who travels from another country to work in the US. She’s used to a different healthcare system and doesn’t understand the group coverage her US employer provides. She knows she needs to see certain medical providers for her coverage to apply, but doesn’t know how to find providers in her network. Worried about making a mistake that will result in a large medical bill, she avoids using her coverage. Things that are basic to a domestic insurance carrier, such as being in possession of a valid US Social Security number, may not be so basic to a newly arrived expatriate without one!
There is also a struggle with the language. Even to native speakers, insurance can seem to have its own vernacular, but actual language barriers can strain communication further. Policyholders who speak a second language proficiently have trouble when it comes to complex insurance terms. Reading policies and obtaining help over the phone may be challenging. When you’re dealing with an international audience, these types of obstacles are predictable. Interpretation services should be an integral part of customer service. You also need an insurance provider who will help policyholders understand and use their coverage.
4. Toolbox that’s easy to open
It’s easier to support clients when your insurer provides modern, convenient tools. For example, when insurance providers offer a seamless purchasing experience, clients don’t need to jump through hoops, which can help with satisfaction and retention.
A sophisticated portal should also let you compare options to find and customise the best coverage for your clients. After all, what works for one, might not work for another – the coverage needs of someone living and working in a foreign country on a long-term basis will be substantially different from an individual taking short trips to several countries. Also, there are different coverage lines, group versus individual, and clients have varying budgets. You can’t give them the coverage they need unless you can customise benefits and costs. But don’t forget that real and available service capability must sit alongside that. There is no value in a slick online sales and payment mechanism, if a member can’t speak to a real person at the point of need, which is often overlooked at the point of sale!
Putting it all together
Providing international insurance involves a lot of moving parts. Since you’re dealing with different norms, multiple languages and changing regulations, all the complications normally associated with insurance are amplified. And to deliver this seamlessly is both an art and a science.
With the power of partnership, you can rise to the challenge and provide clients with exceptional coverage and customer service to meet their needs wherever they go. Don’t settle for anything less than a service excellence ecosystem.