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Customer satisfaction in the pension insurance industry

In collaboration with VU University, Amsterdam, Accenture conducted a survey among pension insurers to identify the most important factors of customer satisfaction.

Overview

The Dutch pension system, considered to be the best in the world, is facing numerous challenges. The pressure put on the Dutch pension system by financial and economic crises, low interest rates, an aging population and increasing life expectancy is unparalleled. Recent years have seen many changes in the field of pensions.

This article will focus on the performance of the pension insurer in terms of customer satisfaction. How are players in the pension insurance industry managing current dynamics? How can they meet their customers’ heavy demands in this hectic and challenging environment of change? Do pension insurers really understand what level of service quality customers expect from them?

Background

Recent years have seen many changes in the field of pensions. Not only have there been several legislative changes, a new pension agreement and proposals to cut pensions, but the perception of pensions has also changed as pension awareness increases within the public arena.

At the same time, customers have become more critical and demanding. They want greater transparency, clear communication and a high level of involvement. As competition increases, pension insurers are finding that, to retain their clients, they need to provide high service quality and maintain good relationships with their customers.

Analysis

In collaboration with VU University, Amsterdam, Accenture conducted a customer satisfaction survey among pension insurers to help answer the above-mentioned questions. The purpose of this survey is therefore to study the level of satisfaction in the market, and to identify the most important factors that determine customer satisfaction, with a focus on service and relationship quality.

The pension insurance industry is a dynamic and competitive market, with highly demanding customers and increasing scrutiny by the media. To gain insight into the factors driving insurance companies’ level of customer satisfaction, clients across several industries were surveyed and interviewed. The majority of the responses were collected from the business services industry. Specifically, employees within HR departments and Finance departments were asked to assess their level of satisfaction with their pension insurer. Of the 50 respondents, 55% worked in small and medium-sized enterprises and 45% in corporate companies. In total, assessments of customer satisfaction with regard to eight different pension insurers were collected.

The survey consisted of validated items, derived from the literature on service and relationship quality.

Recommendations

This study has shown that, pension insurers who wish to increase their level of customer satisfaction should, in addition to improving process efficiency and quality, consider placing focus to the main determinant of customer satisfaction, i.e., the quality of their relationship with their clients. If they do so, insurance companies should invest first and foremost in the intangible aspects of the client relationship, such as trust, commitment and long-term orientation. However, care should be taken to ensure that this new focus is not at the expense of the tangible aspects of service quality, because these can easily turn into “dissatisfier” factors if neglected.