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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Insurers continue to lag behind banking for customer service

The UK’s insurance sector has failed to rank among the country’s top 10 industries for customer service and experiences for a second year in a row.

People want open and honest customer service ©Shutterstock
People want open and honest customer service ©Shutterstock

That is according to new research by consultancy firm Engine, which reveals a 2% decline in people ranking insurance as the best sector for customer service since 2014.

The industry also continues to lag behind banking, which was named the fourth best sector for 2018, with hotels and hospitality, food services, air travel and retail completing the top five.

Amazon was ranked the number one brand, while Llyods Bank, Santander, Barclays, Nationwide and Halifax are the only financial organisations to feature in the top 10.

“This comes down to Amazon having worked hard to design a frictionless, principally digital self-service experience that puts the customer first,” Engine co-founder, Joe Heapy, said.

“They then introduce the human touch to provide support when people most need it – it’s important for businesses to get this balance right.”

The research involved a survey of 1004 adults, finding that “openness and honesty” is considered the most important feature of good customer service for the fifth year running.

Efficiency and reliability were ranked the next most important, with customers more likely to recommend a service based on the quality of service than price and convenience.

When asked what businesses should prioritise, 62% of customers said the focus should be on launching “simpler, flexible, and more affordable customer service options”.

However, just 15% wanted brands to focus on innovations like voice assistants, and under a fifth said businesses should use their data to create personalised recommendations.

In addition, only 22% of customers would suggest businesses automate elements of the customer experience through tools such as chatbots.

“Respondents place least importance on automation, and yet they rank Amazon, one of the most automated tech companies, as number one for customer service,” Heapy said.

“As automated self-service becomes more intelligent, customers will see more value in a bot dealing with common issues, freeing staff to accommodate customers when they have a real issue.”

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