Absa Life has the most satisfied clients among the country’s major life insurers, according to Consulta’s latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index for Life Insurance.
The index is based on a survey of more than 2 100 customers of the country’s largest life insurers by market share during the last quarter of 2021.
“The past two years have clearly demonstrated that in an environment where insurance is largely commoditised and undifferentiated in terms of benefits and pricing, a razor-like commitment to outstanding customer service and centricity is fundamental across every channel and touch point,” said Consulta chief executive Abigail Boikhutso.
Absa Life improved its overall customer satisfaction score by seven points from last year, to reach 84.9 points.
It was followed closely by Metropolitan (84.6) and FNB Life (83.9).
Standard Bank Life Insurance, Old Mutual, Sanlam and 1Life Insurance each achieved an on-par score of 81.1.
Discovery Life scored a below-par 78.4, although its score improved by more than four index points following a decline over three consecutive years.
Getting what you expected?
Customer expectation measures a customer’s anticipation of the quality of a company’s products or services. Perceived quality is a measure of the customer’s evaluation, based on actual recent experience, of the quality of a company’s service or product delivery.
“Two years into the pandemic and it is clear that any excuses given for delivering a lousy customer experience due to the impact of Covid-19 on operations and customer service are moot. This is very clear in the fact that customer expectations scores overall are at their highest across most industries covered by the SA-CSI, but most notably in the financial services sectors,” said Boikhutso.
The customer expectations score for the life insurance industry is at 84.5, the highest it has been since the start of the index.
“Consumers’ experiences over the past two years have highlighted the importance and value of life insurance during uncertain times, and this has driven up customer expectations of the performance of their life insurer and their cover,” said Boikhutso.
The good news is that the latest index shows that insurers have made “solid headway and that customer loyalty and satisfaction are on the up”, she said.
Value for money?
One of the most critical drivers of customers’ overall satisfaction is whether they perceive they are getting value for the money they are paying.
According to Consulta, the effort that a customer must make to understand a life insurer’s products has a significant impact on perceived value: highly complex products result in customers believing they are not receiving value for money.
“Consumers have demanded simplicity, absolute clarity and transparency in terms of the conditions of cover, have ditched overly complex and expensive rewards programmes that require high effort levels, and have become increasingly intolerant of bad customer experiences and slow responses from service providers,” said Boikhutso.
There was an increase in complaints across the industry to 13.1%, widening the gap between the 10% recommended benchmark, compared with 2020.
The industry scored slightly lower for complaint-handling in 2021 (53.4) than in 2020 (50.8).
Discovery has made a huge improvement in its complaints handling score, from 67 in 2021 from 37.2 in 2020. Absa Life also improved markedly, from 38.8 to 55.2.
Consumers expect to receive the same level of responsiveness from life insurers as they do from banks, and life insurers have been under immense pressure to bring their processes and systems into the mainstream of digitisation, said Boikhutso.
The reputational damage caused by highly publicised claims repudiations remains top-of-mind for many consumers, Boikhutso said.
“Any hint of a blunder in respect of the trust and reliability of an insurer is likely to have a significant impact on customer loyalty, and, in turn, the overall perception of satisfaction with the insurer.”
There is an increase in brand loyalty and net promoter scores for life insurers that show high levels of Treating Customers Fairly, have improved their resolution of complaints, have worked to reduce repeat complaints, and have simplified their benefit and rewards structures to make for more transparent and easier engagement, Boikhutso said.