ABI: Real progress on service standards made through customer impact scheme

In hard times, industries too often cut back on their investment in serving customers better. But the insurance industry has continued to invest in the largest UK survey of what customers think, and to act on the findings. The 2008-09 Customer Impact Survey Industry Report, published today by the ABI (Association of British Insurers), shows that despite tough economic conditions, life, pensions and investment companies are performing well in key areas of customer service. Encouraging progress is being made on both sales and post-sales service – in particular, views of companies’ payments processes have improved, with 53% of customers saying these were ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’. However, the survey shows that customers are still unsatisfied with the way the industry handles complaints.

The survey measures the experiences of over 20,000 customers on a variety of indicators, combined into three Customer Commitments:

.Commitment 1: Developing and promoting products and services which meet the needs of customers
.Commitment 2: Providing consumers with clear information and good service when they buy products
.Commitment 3: Maintaining appropriate and effective relationships with customers, providing them with a good service after they have bought a product

The survey results highlight particular areas where companies need to make improvements in customer service. Real examples of the changes individual companies have made as a result of previous surveys include:

.New software introduced to allow customer communications to be updated more quickly
.Training programmes for contact centre staff enhanced
.Complicated jargon removed from many communications, and a glossary included to ensure any necessary technical terms are properly explained
.A review of written communications undertaken and changes made to improve quality
.Staff training introduced specifically to ensure that literature is customer-friendly

Maggie Craig, the ABI’s Director of Life and Savings, said:

“The value of the Customer Impact Scheme to customers of the life and pensions industry is clear to see. This is a long-term initiative, and it is encouraging to see the impact of the work companies have done starting to feed through to customers. Even in these times of economic uncertainty, customers are generally happy with the levels of service they receive from the industry. And where the survey has pointed to areas where companies need to improve, they have made practical changes to put things right. Members of the Scheme will continue this work throughout 2009.”

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Notes for Editors

1.Enquiries to:
Jonathan French 020 7216 7392 (Mobile: 07958 330 480)
Malcolm Tarling 020 7216 7410 (Mobile: 07776 147 667)
Erfan Hussain 020 7216 7411 (Mobile: 07712 841 184)
Kelly Ostler-Coyle 020 7216 7415 (Mobile: 07968 364 302)

2.The 2008-09 Customer Impact survey Industry Report is available on the ABI web site, www.abi.org.uk.

3.The ABI is the voice of the insurance and investment industry. Its members constitute over 90 per cent of the insurance market in the UK and 20 per cent across the EU. They control assets equivalent to a quarter of the UK’s capital. They are the risk managers of the UK’s economy and society. Through the ABI their voice is heard in Government and in public debate on insurance, savings and investment matters.

4.An ISDN line is available for broadcasts.