Extraordinary Care for Extraordinary Times
Often when people face the biggest challenges of their lives – from a tornado or hurricane that damages their home, to a fire that takes out a significant portion of their business, to the loss of a loved one – insurance and financial services firms play a crucial role in the recovery process.
The year 2020, marked by extreme weather and a global pandemic, has been one of the profession’s biggest tests. At Nationwide, it’s one the company has been working hard to learn and grow from, says Nationwide Chief Customer Officer Amy Shore, by viewing every decision through the lens of how it can maintain and improve the experience that Nationwide customers have.
“Coming into 2020, Nationwide’s goal was to be intently focused on our mission that we exist to serve our customers and that we protect people, businesses, and futures with extraordinary care. And then came COVID,” Shore said. “We had to quickly pivot to ensure that all of our associates had what they needed to serve our customers and work from home, while never losing sight of continuity and quality of service.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Nationwide initiated multiple large shifts simultaneously to protect its employees and customers, Shore said. To preserve health and well-being, the company moved nearly 98 percent of its workforce to a work-from-home model in a matter of days. At the same time, Nationwide simultaneously accelerated the digitization of its underlying processes to continue customer experiences in a touchless environment.
For example, Shore said that Nationwide made it easier for customers to pay their bills or receive payments online. For its independent agent network, the firm introduced a new Nationwide Express® mobile app, which allows agents to complete an auto quote in as little as 60 seconds, greatly simplifying the member experience.
The company also allowed customers who needed help to pause their insurance premium payments, as well as providing relief for customers on their monthly auto premium payments.
Shore noted that Nationwide’s financial services division introduced new products and services designed to help its customers during this difficult year. Teaming up with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), Nationwide created a My Medicare Matters® tool to help members make informed and confident decisions about their healthcare coverage. It also launched the My Retirement mobile app for public sector plans, which helps members manage their accounts and has become one of the highest rated apps in the industry (Apple rating: 4.8/5, Android rating: 4.7/5).
Nationwide’s insurance division was equally busy launching new services in 2020, Shore said. In response to customers’ increased online presence, Nationwide introduced within the identity theft protection program for personal lines a cyber protection service to help guard its customers from cybersecurity threats and attacks. The company also expanded its SmartRide and SmartMiles rewards programs, which provide discounts to auto policy holders for safe driving behavior and driving fewer miles. For agribusiness customers, Nationwide implemented processes like virtual risk management services, web-based meeting platforms and remote underwriting using live video streams. The company also expanded its online business solutions series, a program designed to strengthen Hispanic small business owners’ operations by focusing on sales through social media, planning, and growth strategies. Additionally, Nationwide promoted the use of its veterinarian helpline offering for its pet insurance customers. The service connects pet customers to digital care for free, 24/7, and has experienced a 58 percent increase in use during the pandemic.
Combined, Shore noted the efforts are being noticed by customers. Nationwide tied for first place in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, a ranking of life insurance customer satisfaction, demonstrating strength in practically every category. Meanwhile, other internal Nationwide survey metrics have shown increasing customer satisfaction and trust levels.
“Delivering a great customer experience starts with our employees and the experience we provide them,” Shore said. “As we focus on providing our employees with the tools, processes and skills they need to excel in their roles, we know they will in turn deliver a great customer experience, no matter the challenges and opportunities the year throws our way.”