The focus of today’s article is customer service.
It is written against the background of the experiences of some of my colleagues with financial service providers mainly banks, insurers, and intermediaries; my interactions with some of those entities; information from public sources that 30 government agencies have attained or are planning to attain the International Standards Organisation Certification ISO-90002015 certification is evidence that these entities have started the process of developing a service culture; the initiatives of the Bank of Jamaica and the Financial Services Commission to use their regulatory power to raise customer-service standards of financial services providers by way of market conduct rules; and my dealings with the electricity utility, the Jamaica Public Service Company.
Salesforce describes itself as the world’s No. 1 customer service platform company. It defines customer service broadly as “the support you offer customers both before and after they buy and use your products or services that helps them have an easy, enjoyable experience with your brand. But customer service is more than solving a customer’s problems and closing tickets. Today, customer service means delivering proactive and immediate support to customers any time on the channel of their choice phone, email, text, chat, and more.”
Paragraphs 142A to 142R in Part XIIA of the FSC’s Market Conduct Guidelines 2.0 explain in exacting detail the key features of the service that insurance providers are required to deliver to customers to comply with the new rules.
These efforts imply that most companies are yet to make the investment to deliver the quality of service that their customers demand. Substandard customer service creates distrust.
Trust, according to the Rev Ronald Thwaites in his essay last October, is the “scarcest, but most necessary of personal (corporate) and civic virtues … is the assurance that any relationship is based on truth and principle rather than opportunism and self-interest”.
British Caribbean Insurance Company’s Managing Director agrees. He said last week that “we have found that the best way to minimise distrust and improve the connection with our customers is to talk with them in a way they can understand. Plain language delivers better results and enhanced customer experience.”
By the way, the insurance regulator, which encourages the virtue of plain language in insurance transactions, does not always practise what it preaches. It recently published an incomprehensible public notice.
The 100-year-old Jamaica Public Service Company has been quietly transformed over the last two decades into one of the island’s leading consumer-centric entities. The company’s noble mission reflects this: “To deliver an energy solution to empower every Jamaican, fuel the growth of businesses, and support national development.”
Three recent examples:
A. June 10 power outage: the company apologised across all media platforms, including the sending of text messages to residential customers like me. It said it was investigating the causes and committed to getting power back as soon as possible and investing at least US$80 million yearly in improving infrastructure to reduce outages.
B. There was a 10 per cent spike in my electricity consumption recently. A text message to this effect was sent to my smartphone.
C. I experienced problems in adding another account to my JPS app. I informed customer care and received an immediate response to my e-mail. The company undertook to investigate the problem and to respond within seven working days. Three days’ later, the problem was resolved.
These experiences can be contrasted with my dealings with one of the island’s leading health insurers. They mistakenly refused to authorise the payment of a claim. The decision was overturned, but company officials did not offer an apology for the blunder.
Insurance companies and commercial should emulate the JPS.