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Your customers probably don’t trust you – but AXA’s Alasdair Stewart’s here to help

Your customers probably don’t trust you – but AXA’s Alasdair Stewart’s here to help

Your customers probably don’t trust you – but AXA’s Alasdair Stewart’s here to help
The insurance industry has a credibility issue – and only greater transparency will regain consumers’ trust, according to a senior marketing executive.

Alasdair Stewart, AXA’s marketing and communications director, told Insurance Business traditional advertising messages no longer work, and the only way to rebuild public trust is to earn it through actions, not words. His views are backed up by EY’s 2014 global consumer insurance survey, which found only 61% of European customers trust insurance companies – lower than the trust levels for banks, despite the financial meltdown widely perceived to be the responsibility of out-of-control bankers.  

“There’s a lot of documentation, a lot have reports have been done,” said Stewart. “What it all shows is that customers don’t want to hear about us becoming more transparent, they want us to be more transparent. They don’t actually believe what we tell them.”

Stewart revealed AXA now believes positive sentiment on peer-to-peer review sites is critical to improving their trustability with consumers. The company has partnered with Feefo, a review website which contacts customers for warts ‘n’ all responses. That impartiality is vital, says Stewart.

He said: “There was a bit of work done in the USA which looked at what people believe in, and they believe in peer-to-peer. So we’ve done a lot of work around that, using Feefo. People can go on there and leave feedback around how their claims worked, and that’s what other people read. They don’t believe our advertising but they believe what other consumers say, so that’s been really positive for us, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Brokers are not immune to the problems either – a recent survey in Australia saw just 11% of people regard brokers as trustworthy, which placed them just above car salesmen and estate agents. While Stewart believes those kind of numbers may be skewed by lack of public knowledge of what brokers do, he warns against complacency.

“If you look at brokers’ retention rates, something like 95% of people renew their business again and again and again, so you would think that indicates they do trust the broker – but you’ve got research showing only a small proportion of the population trust brokers. It’s like bank accounts or mobile phones, people know they can move, but actually it’s a pain in the neck so they don’t.”

AXA’s response has been to have a more open and honest relationship with its customers – for instance, personal lines renewal documents carry not just the new price, but last year’s premium too. Stewart’s aim is to remove any element of surprise, so the customer knows what to expect.

“We have done a lot of work on transparency,” he said. “We have explained the claims process - it’s a stressful event when you have a claim and you’re doing something you’ve never done before. Your house has been broken into, you phone the company and they don’t tell you what’s going on or what’s happening, then you may or may not get a cheque through the post.

“What we have started to do much more of is explaining ‘you’re now with AXA, here’s how this process is going to work’, so the consumer understands exactly what is going to happen – ‘a lawyer is going to phone’, ‘your car is going to be picked up and go into a workshop’, ‘we will send a loss adjuster out so he can look at your house and see the damage that’s been done’, those kind of things just so the customer knows what to expect.”
  • Paul Farrant 19/05/2016 12:20:56
    What Tosh. It's always been a matter of Actions speak louder than Words. It's a pity some haven't understood that
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