At William Russell, we are proud of our reputation for great customer service.
But what is great customer service? In this article, we’ll explore some of the things we do differently that we feel contribute to an amazing customer experience. We’ll ask ‘what does excellent customer service mean to us’, why it matters, and the steps we take to achieve it.
William Russell’s approach to good customer service
Our commitment to always deliver high-quality, on-time service to our customers earned us a Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award in 2023, and we have received thousands of positive customer reviews over the years.
If you would like to add some of your own thoughts, why not reach out to us on LinkedIn or Twitter?
What does excellent customer service mean?
Many businesses say they value great customer service, but what are they really saying?
There is an old adage coined by American department store owner John Wanamaker that goes ‘the customer is king’ (or queen, for that matter). Like many merchants, Wanamaker recognised not only the importance of selling to his customers, but of making them advocates of his company.
A customer who is made to feel like a king or queen is not only more likely to shop with you again, they are also likely to spread the good word about your business, meaning other people are likely to pay you a visit.
The data back up these age-old claims. Recent research by Gladly found that 62% of customers are likely to recommend a brand to friends if they received great customer service.
The reverse can also be true. Another old adage says ‘a happy customer will tell a friend, an unhappy customer will tell the world.’ Great customer service is therefore not just about attracting new and returning customers to your business, it is also a way to protect your company’s reputation.
Once again, Gladly’s data adds weight to this argument. They learned that 45% of customers would stop buying from a business if they received at least two negative customer service experiences.
What does good customer service look like in reality?
At its core, great customer service is about meeting the needs and expectations of customers in a timely, efficient manner.
In fact, it’s about more than just meeting customers’ basic expectations – it’s about going above-and-beyond to build strong relationships and create a positive customer experience.
What are examples of great customer service?
Great customer service is about not only meeting, but exceeding customers’ expectations. At William Russell, there are many ways we go above-and-beyond to offer high-quality customer service. Here are some of our secrets:
1/ We don’t have ‘customers’, we have members
We don’t like the word ‘customer’ – it lacks familiarity. That’s why we call anyone who takes insurance through us a ‘member’.
This is not just for show, either. When you join William Russell, you become a member of The William Russell Association, a not-for-profit community of expats, like you, all around the world.
2/ We get to know our members personally
Many businesses rely on algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to tell their customers apart and offer them a personal experience. But computers can never replace the truly personalised service that comes from one-on-one interactions with real people.
That’s why we always make the effort to talk to our members and learn about their lives. We find this helps us to pick up on small details such as upcoming anniversaries, career milestones or dreams they have for the future, which can in turn help us to offer better, more tailored services.
We also make an effort to connect our members to the same customer service representative every time they contact us. Especially in times of trouble, it can be really reassuring to hear a familiar voice.
3/ We never give an outright ‘no’
Naturally, there are times when we will need to tell a customer ‘no’. But we believe this is one of the harshest words in the dictionary – it doesn’t leave anyone feeling good about themselves.
That’s why, if we ever need to say no to a member, we make sure to follow it up by offering something you could say ‘yes’ to instead. For instance, ‘I’m sorry we can’t cover this particular healthcare treatment, but here’s a suitable alternative instead.’
4/ We always seek feedback
You’ll never know how good or bad a job you’re doing at customer service unless you ask. That’s why we believe it’s important to seek feedback from our members – to know what we’re doing right, and how we can improve.
We use the online review aggregator Feefo to gather feedback from our members. It’s quick and easy to fill in, and you can see reviews from other members. It’s only fair that we take the time to reply to these reviews – after all, if you take the time to fill it in, we should take the time to respond.
What makes for good customer service?
Great customer service will look different depending on the business and the customers they serve.
Some companies prefer a hands-on approach to great customer service, offering a highly personalised service – this can make the customer feel special and looked-after, but is also time-intensive for the business.
Other companies prefer a hands-off approach, offering a smooth experience with little fuss by signposting customers to ways they can help themselves. This lacks the personal touch, but gives customers greater autonomy.
Many companies find a half-way point between these two approaches, or combine them to offer a highly comprehensive service. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to the question ‘what makes good customer service?’ – it’s up to each business to discover for themselves.
Having said that, at William Russell, we believe there are certain fundamentals that should always underpin a great customer experience. Here’s what we believe makes great customer service, every time:
- Being proactive – A great customer experience starts by understanding the pain-points a customer might experience and working to address these concerns before they arise. For instance, we know our members might have questions about an insurance policy they are taking out. That’s why we offer dozens of online guides that explain everything in plain English.
- Being responsive – If a customer has questions, they should receive quick and accurate responses. Our members have dedicated account managers, meaning you will have a direct email address and phone number to the person taking care of your account. We also offer online live chat via our website. Our team is always kept up-to-date with knowledge of our products, and they know where to refer a members if they can’t answer a question.
- Having empathy – Customers can feel a range of emotions while dealing with a business. If they are making a large financial commitment, they might feel scared. If they don’t fully understand your products or service, they may feel doubt. We understand this at William Russell. That’s why our sales team will always aim to guide members through all the product options available to them, with a view to help you make an informed decision. We’ll never try to give you the ‘hard sell’.
- Having follow-through – Great customer service does not end the moment money changes hands. Our customer service representatives always follow up with our members to see if they are getting the most from their products. If not, we’ll see what we can do to improve the experience.
How William Russell does great customer service
For more than 30 years, we at William Russell have prided ourselves on offering great customer service. Here are some of the ways we do it.
1/ Accessible to our members
With our members based all over the world, we understand how important it is to be accessible. There are time differences to contend with, and we know international calls are expensive, so members can email their dedicated account managers who will call them back at a time to suit them.
With William Russell, you’ll never be put through to a call centre, and we make sure our staff are trained to the highest standards in customer care, so you can expect friendly, personal and empathetic service every time.
2/ Efficient claims process
We know that making a health insurance claim while living abroad can be a nerve-wracking time, especially if you’ve been let down by health insurers in the past. At William Russell, all claims can be submitted via a simple online form, and we do our best to ensure these claims are processed within ten working days.
That means you’ll never be left in limbo. Instead, you get a quick decision and the money to cover your claim quickly and easily. If you are staying in hospital as an in-patient, there’s no need to worry about anything, as we’ll pick up the bill with the hospital directly. Find out more about how to make a claim on your plan.
3/ Free online help
We know that living in a foreign country comes with all sorts of complications. That’s why we post regular content on our website to help new and existing members make the most of life abroad. Whether it’s helping you manage your personal finances, providing tips on health and well-being, or exploring destinations and cultures across the world in our comprehensive country guides, our expert commentary is tailor-made with expats like you in mind.
We also feature lots of content to help you understand the complex world of international health insurance. From choosing the right insurance policy to suit your needs, to getting the best deal on your health insurance, and even understanding the medical underwriting procedure, we’re always updating our resources with new information written by our own insurance experts.
4/ Our customer care commitments
Offering the greatest customer service is not just something we do. It’s part of who we are. Our philosophy is based on three principles:
- Transparency matters to us – Insurance is about trust, so we believe in being fair and open. This belief informs our idea of healthcare as a partnership between our members and us. That’s why we’re completely upfront with our health plans, and we want you to understand precisely what you’re buying.
- We’re committed to fairness – Healthcare is expensive, and – sadly – costs are on the up. We do everything possible to spread this inflation fairly. We calculate premiums with a long- term, sustainable pricing model. And you can tailor your plan to help reduce your premium without compromising your cover.
- We believe in people – Some insurers rely on AI and Big Data to do their work for them. We think differently. Healthcare is a highly personal experience, so it deserves a personal service. We’re a team of real people, at the end of a phone call when you really need us.
We’ll never try to pull the wool over your eyes, we’ll always treat you fairly and sympathetically, and we’ll do everything we can to get you the best price – and to pay out on your claim. We believe every customer is our most important customer, and we’ll do whatever we can to help everyone equally and fairly.
International health insurance backed by the greatest customer service
At William Russell, we are dedicated to offering high-quality customer service to all our members. Whether you choose international health insurance, international life insurance or income protection insurance, you can be sure to benefit from our professional service, round-the-clock care and super-fast claims process.
We are proud to have received the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award 2023, one of the most prestigious trusted service awards, for our outstanding customer service. Why not see what some of our members say about us?
Speak to us today to find out if we can help you find the best international health insurance.