Why the reputation of the insurance industry is now hanging in the balance

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Peter Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, BGL Insurance

The perfect customer experience will never exist – a pretty bold statement for the CEO of a customer driven organisation I know, but one that if you really think about, makes perfect sense.

I am, however, confident that a great customer experience does exist but what this looks like for everyone is different and that is the real challenge. Therefore, the success factors in reaching this ‘gold standard’ position can often be found in the journey towards creating it. This is why, in my mind, customer experience is such an exciting and fast paced sector, it never stands still in its drive to exceed expectations. The needs of the customer continue to evolve and, as other brands across multiple sectors launch and deliver successful and innovative new ways to service and support their own customers, it continues to challenge and test all businesses who also want to strive for that same excellence.


Navigating 30 years of experience

As I reflect on BGL Insurance delivering 30 years of customer service, reaching that particular key milestone later this year, it has certainly been an interesting journey, filled with challenges, changes and bumps along the way, getting us to where we are today. But, when it comes to our customers, I’m proud to say that we have never compromised on the service we’ve delivered and the bumps and challenges have been pivotal in helping us to truly learn and shape our offering to meet the growing expectations of our customers. We’ve never claimed to have all of the answers but our teams continue to work incredibly hard to find them.

I also think that it’s fair to say that our role as an insurance provider has changed during that time. Back in 1992, customers would reach for the yellow pages, call various providers for a quote and settle on a brand they were most familiar with. The advent of price comparison changed this, with our market now more transparent and customers becoming more price driven. Later down the line, as the regulators’ role grew, brand prominence became less important, as consumers trusted they would be protected by the regulator ensuring products were fit for purpose. Fast forward to the omni-channel customer experience environment we all operate in today, offering far more choice on channel, products and price than ever before – and I believe our role has never been more important.


Customer Experience today

The past few years – with the impact of the pandemic and the roll-out of substantial regulatory changes that were needed to level up the industry – have sadly contributed to further denting the reputation of the wider insurance sector. Now, as consumers prepare hunker down, for what looks set to be an extremely tough time, with the cost-of-living crisis, how we support our customers during this time will distinguish the strongest providers who are in it for the long haul.

While the General Insurance Pricing Practice changes (GIPP) fundamentally altered the UK insurance model, this shift came at the right time. Consumers must trust that the prices and products they are sold are not only fair but are right for their individual needs and, this is where our role needs to focus in the coming months and possibly years ahead, as we navigate our businesses and customers through economic volatility.

Customers, quite rightly, will look to make savings in their household but insurance should not become one of them. We do not want to reach a stage where we are once again facing an underinsurance epidemic, or in a position where customers have tried to cut costs and in doing so, have unwittingly compromised their cover. A real false economy and one that we need to help our customers to avoid as much as possible. We must ensure that customers clearly understand any impact of not choosing certain products at the point of sale.

Both consumers’ time and money are now significantly squeezed but this does present an opportunity for our sector to step up for customers, helping to boost its reputation once again. Remaining flexible, empathetic but above all, ensuring our customers have the best and most appropriate level of protection for them, must remain the most important factors. We’ve learned an awful lot since 1992 about changing customer expectations and I believe these traits will be just as important in 30 years as they are today, even if the world and the customers within it look very different.