5 steps to improve customer service

At Central, our top priority is maintaining positive relationships with our agents, policyholders and employees. Every step we take is an attempt to improve the experience of these vital individuals. Whether we are refining our product offerings to meet the changing needs of policyholders, Redesign of employee benefits to exceed evolving industry standards or to adapt our service catalog to better align with our agents’ preferred lines of business, Central is committed to a business model built on exceptional customer service.

This commitment has been at the core of our business model ever since The founding of Central in 1876, the practice of improved customer service is now becoming a critical part of business-consumer relationships across industries.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic 50% of US consumers say they prioritize customer service higher than before when deciding whether or not to do business with a brand. Similar, 80% of consumers generally feel more emotionally connected to brands whose customer service teams are dedicated to solving their problems.

So how can you start invest in customer service within your organization?

In this article, we examine the HEAT model of customer service– a well-tried one method to deal with a difficult customer service situation – and share some expert tips on how to improve customer service in your company.

The HEAT Customer Service Model: 4 Steps to Success

Step 1.

The first step in the HEAT approach is to “Hear” from the customer.

While this isn’t always easy, the customer will end up feeling better because you gave them time to voice their concerns. Letting someone vent and listening to what they’re upset about is also key to connecting and getting the client to work With instead of versus you to find a solution.

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Step 2.

Try to “Esympathizewith the customer and put yourself in their shoes. Look beyond their words to how they are feeling in the moment.

Practice naming your emotions and repeating them to the client so they know you’re taking the time to understand their perspective. Try, “I understand your frustration, and I can understand why. I would too.”

By showing your customer that you relate to their mindset, you can begin to defuse the situation.

Step 3.

After empathizing, the HEAT model suggests “ASorry” to the customer.

This is an important step to remember, even if you didn’t create the situation that upset the customer. You must do your best to apologize on behalf of the organization while accepting responsibility for the mistake.

Remember, while you haven’t done anything to bother them, your company has, and you are a team.

Heaslip adds, “A simple ‘I’m sorry’ can go a long way in smoothing over situations like this. Stand united and take the heat for your team. Hopefully your team members will do the same for you when the tables turn. After all, we all make mistakes.”

step 4

The final and perhaps most important step in the HEAT customer service model is “TTake action.” Always make sure you have an action plan ready to follow up on your apology.

How will you fix the problem? What can customers expect next?

Even if you can’t promise that their issue will be completely resolved, be sure to let them know what steps you plan to take to try and help, who they can hear from next, and what they can do in the meantime .

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step 5

Once you’ve set yourself up for success with the HEAT model of customer service, it’s time to start thinking about what specific processes you should incorporate to best meet your customers’ unique needs. The way an insurance carrier handles a customer complaint, for example, is very different from the way a small business, restaurant, or even a contractor might respond to the same situation. Because of this, it’s important to outline the specific needs of people in your industry and base the details of your customer service plan on them.

Here are some more insights into Central’s approach to customer service as an established insurance carrier.

Customer service tips for insurance carriers

Unlike customer service for a product or brand, “Central’s customer service team typically interacts with customers who have an urgent need or are experiencing some form of difficulty,” says Heidi Smith, Commercial Lines Services Supervisor at central insurance.

Whether they have experienced a car accident, house fire, natural disaster, or other type of loss, these individuals often face time-sensitive, unexpected circumstances that cause stress or high emotions.

Because of this, customer service teams must be prepared to conduct these conversations with the utmost care and sensitivity.

Always remember to be friendly, clear, and direct with the customer in these situations, as they are likely to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issue at hand. You should also demonstrate your investment in their safety and care by suggesting clear and actionable next steps and follow up as often as possible to ensure their needs are met.

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Finally, remember to treat each customer as a person. If you are inclined, offer your condolences as you would any person you have met who has just suffered a loss. Be sure to note the tone of the response and adjust your future interactions as needed.

The key difference

Hospitality and excellence are two of Central’s core values, and our customer service team works to embody these values ​​in every customer interaction.

“We’re there for customers when they need us most,” says Smith. “Insurance is not something tangible. You can’t feel what you are paying for. But if they need us, they call and then we can step in and show them our worth.”

In many cases, this value includes being a soothing ear to someone who has a problem, but may also require the team to be proactive.

Continue reading: Sharing kindness and compassion through positive customer service experiences

“To be exceptional, we have to anticipate,” says Smith. “We know everyone who is on the phone needs something, but we want to go beyond what they asked for that day and anticipate what that next step might be.”

For example, suppose a customer calls and expresses frustration with the mailing billing system. In this case, the customer service team is ready to offer solutions, including routing to Central’s extensive online billing and policy options.

“Our people are trained to assess the current situation and what the next step might be, and then implement that in a way that best benefits the customer,” says Smith.

good customer service

Note: This article was originally published in July 2015. It has since been updated for accuracy.

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