Page 1: Introduction
Customer service is the whole activity of identifying customer needs, satisfying them fully and keeping them satisfied. In service industries in particular, customer service is best achieved through relationship management, which involves building firm, enduring, business relationships with customers.
Royal & SunAlliance is one of the world’s major insurers, with operations in around 50 countries it carries out business in over 130 countries. The company looks to meet the needs of the brokers with which it deals and who are its direct customers. This case study shows how the company has successfully developed relationship management with its brokers using an approach called ‘Energy’.
Like many other industries, the insurance industry operates in a dynamic global environment. Individual insurance businesses face high levels of competition from rivals which use latest technologies to update the way they operate continually. Insurance companies also face the uncertainty of an inter-dependent world in which change can be dramatic and unexpected, as evidenced by the terrible events of September 11th 2001. The terrorist attacks have had massive knock-on effects not only in terms of human suffering but also in the form of a multi-billion pound insurance clearing up operation.
Like other service industries, insurance companies are faced by consumers whose requirements are becoming increasingly sophisticated and whose willingness to switch to another supplier is on the increase. To compete successfully and thrive in this environment, companies must be forward thinking in their approach to customers and in applying new techniques.
This case study shows how Royal & SunAlliance has applied successful customer segmentation and relationship management to achieve successful partnerships with its key customers.
Customer segmentation is the process of gathering information about customers, identifying distinct segments of the overall market and then developing approaches to meet the needs of these segments.
Relationship management is the process of developing one-to-one relationships with customers. In a market in which products are increasingly similar, the key to differentiating one brand from another is through customer relations.
Royal & SunAlliance sells most of its commercial business through insurance brokers, who place the business with the company on behalf of their industrial and commercial customers. The most successful brokers have a strong service ethic and work hard at their technical and claims service. This approach wins clients and also helps to retain them.
Royal & SunAlliance believes that in the long term the number of brokers will reduce. The winners of the future will be brokers who currently run successful businesses and who demonstrate vision, adaptability and innovation. Qualitative research carried out has shown that these brokers need support from insurers who are prepared to put the same amount of energy into the relationship to enable them to achieve their goals. Using this information, Royal & SunAlliance introduced a proposition for key independent brokers that brought them service and resources to support them in winning, retaining and servicing clients. This proposition was called ‘Energy’.