Trust in financial institutions has been critically damaged in recent years, with the FCA scrutinising companies ever more stringently in an effort to restore consumer trust and confidence in the sector.
As customer experience is ever more central to business operation, businesses within insurance, financial services and regulated markets need to ensure that they have the right mix of talent on board to drive their company values forward.
So, what kind of personnel should be making up your in-house team? Here are the skillsets financial institutions need to be recruiting in order to excel in today’s market.
Delivering on the commitments you make to your customers in a fair and transparent way is crucial to the successful running of your organisation. Personnel who exhibit integrity, putting the customer at the heart of their actions and being open about their recommendations, will naturally earn them trust and be demonstrated by the value that they bring value to customers’ decisions.
Good communication skills are crucial to securing the ongoing trust and staying power of your customers. The successful agents will pay due regard to the informational needs of his or her clients, and communicate information to them in a way that is clear, fair and not misleading.
Ability to deliver innovation and choice
Insurance brokers in particular have an important role in delivering innovation and choice for customers, providing expertise and access in niche markets where customers may have difficulty obtaining cover through mainstream channels. For this, you need someone who can think outside the box where there is a customer or business with a more complex situation, to be able to pinpoint the best-suited option.
Ability to identify areas of harm
The business and its policies are ultimately responsible for making sure all its customers are treated fairly. However, you want all your representatives to be framing decisions for customers based on real consumer behaviour and be conscious of not misleading them or exploiting behavioural biases. The successful agent will make sure products and fees are properly disclosed and well understood by the customer if they sense any element of doubt.
Outcome-focused in favour of the customer
Does your team member see their customer as a genuine client, or an upsell opportunity? Are things like add-ons and premium finance being sold fairly? Are your own staff incentives consistent with delivering good outcomes? All the above are legitimate lenses to examine your operations through, as well as being aware of whether your own business model is setting your agents up for success. Does your measure of success focus on whether the outcome is good for the customer or on whether a sale is compliant with a narrow set of rules?
Manage conflicts of interest effectively
Poorly managed conflicts of interest tend to result in poor service to customers and contributes to a market that is not fair and transparent. Staff must have sufficient expertise and training to understand their business, as well as having access to adequate support from senior management.
Good product knowledge
The ability to sell well is highly valuable but just as – if not more – importantly, the effective insurance agent must understand all the legal and regulatory elements of what they are selling and how these will fit within the nuances of a client’s individual financial situation.
Adaptable to digital trends
A recent McKinsey survey of European consumers found that 54 percent of customers now prefer direct or digital channels, up from 38 percent before the crisis. Throughout the customer life cycle, insurance companies will engage in multichannel, personalised customer interactions so it’s important that insurers embrace the integration of physical and digital channels post-COVID.
To provide meaningful customer experiences that go beyond transactions alone, team members need to possess good emotional intelligence. According to McKinsey, by 2030, 44 percent of insurance work activities have the potential to be automated. Roles that focus on repetitive work and manual processes will cease to exist in their present format, while digitally savvy workers will increase in value. Emotional, interpersonal, and social skills will also become more critical, especially for customer-facing agents who can help consumers address their changing financial and coverage needs. Demand for this kind of skillset will only increase with the ongoing automation of many services that is starting to happen in the sector.