New York Life Invests in Customer Sentiment

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

Contact centers have become a key differentiator in many companies for delivering superior customer service, building loyalty, and delivering a unique experience. The contact center for life insurance company New York Life has also become a portal for collecting and distributing customer feedback to the entire organization.

Darrell Robertson, vice president of member services at New York Life Insurance, AARP office, which services AARP's 1.7 million customers, says agents are trained to enter two types of information into a database accessed through an icon on their desktops: anything that sounds like an unsatisfied customer or unresolved issue, and any time they say "no" to a customer's question. For example, in the past customers asked agents if they could make payments via the phone, but New York Life didn't offer that service at that time. That's considered a "no" exchange. By studying this feedback, the company now offers phone payments.

Through a drop-down menu on their desktop, agents can select a customer's disposition and log it into the database. There's also a free-form box where agents can write an addendum to help executives understand the true nature of the issues. Robertson says that agents populate that box regularly. "Our agents are supportive and reactive," Robertson says.

While it might seem inconceivable that agents would actually take the time to enter salient, detailed information into a database, Robertson says New York Life's agents are trained to do so, and actively eliciting customer feedback is ingrained in the company's three core values: to remain a best-in-class organization, to be customer centric, and to create superior customer experiences. "When people come into the organization they understand those are the three key things," he says. "When agents are on the telephone, they find out that the things they are bringing forth in the organization provide value."

After the agents enter information into the database, it's automatically delivered to a reporting tool. A quality management team examines the data daily and looks for issues that may be a concern or that New York Life may need to change to improve the customer experience.

In addition to the quality management team reviewing the data daily, Robertson's team emails a quarterly report to eight cross-departmental senior executives. The report includes a summary of the raw data that shows the issue category, number of comments, and actual text from consumers. "We get senior-level people who look at customer feedback, and they aren't typically customer-facing folks," he says. "They come back and say, 'We saw something in the [voice of the customer report] and we think we can change it to make it better.'"

In addition to the VOC tool on the agents' desktops, New York Life also conducts surveys. Customers can elect to take part in a survey at the end of their call; last year 35,000 customers participated.

VOC has helped the organization make some positive changes to processes and products, for example, billing notices. "We've made them easier to read and understand," Robertson says. The company also has streamlined its electronic funds transfer process, and has developed new products from customers' requests.

As a result, Robertson says, the organization and its service are rated highly. Agent satisfaction is 97 percent and the overall service for AARP scored a 92 percent. Net Promoter Score reached 90 percent for likelihood to recommend, and average handle time has been reduced by 45 to 50 seconds per call.

The next phase in the firm's VOC strategy will be a voice analytics implementation later this year. This will allow New York Life to create a dictionary of words it wants the system to scrape. For instance, the company can find all the calls with the word "cancel." Robertson says having this system will help his team find all the other calls that get lost as a result of not being logged into the system. "This will not only [give us] the ability to review customer sentiment and key words and phrases, but it will also help us in terms of looking at the efficiencies," he says.

Three groups will oversee the voice analytics. A technical group will manage the output, a review team will determine which internal processes to change as a result of the data, and a customer experience team will monitor the procedures that the group puts in place to determine if New York Life is getting the desired effect from the voice analytics deployment.