Service excellence is very easily promised, but often falls short when it comes to delivery. As most people in business know, a company’s success is often measured by its clients’ perceptions.
When John Field founded Fedgroup in 1990 with the ethos of ‘service first’, it laid a solid foundation for the business to treat both clients and employees as family, leading to the company’s growth and success over the past 30 years.
Now a respected financial services institution in South Africa, Fedgroup shares four key lessons they have learned in the customer service game.
1. There is true value in forming lasting personal relationships
As a business, Fedgroup is run on family values. When the company started, founder and current chairman John Field ran the operations by himself.
Clients were encouraged by the idea of dealing directly with the chief decision maker, and formed personal relationships with Field himself.
Fedgroup’s first Secured Investment was sold in 1990 and the same client still has shares invested with Fedgroup today, this is a true reflection of how a business built on the foundations of personal relationships can stand the test of time.
2. Treating customers fairly is a win-win
One of the cornerstones upon which Fedgroup is built is upholding its duty to Treating Customers Fairly (TCF), not only because this is considered good business practice, but because it is fundamentally the right thing to do.
By truly putting client needs at the heart of the business and looking at claims from a different angle, Fedgroup has made it their mission to look for ‘reasons to pay’ over the past 30 years – oftentimes in contrast to their competitors.
“Fedgroup looks at claims differently. Our criteria for declining claims are very stringent,” says Fedgroup employee Susan Verhoef.
“Claims used to be declined on the basis that there is insufficient evidence on file to prove disablement. The burden of proof was on the claimant to prove disability.”
“Today, we still expect the member to submit baseline medical evidence at their cost, but once that is in place, we go out of our way to prove their ability to work. If there is any doubt about ability, the claim is admitted.”
3. Going the extra mile gives you a competitive advantage
By putting people first, Fedgroup has made sure that, through all the challenges and varying market conditions and upheavals over the past 30 years, they have maintained their payments to clients.
This approach has helped Fedgroup employees look at each claim individually, focusing on whether each client is properly taken care of in the long-run, and has the best tools available at their disposal for a better future.
According to Fedgroup employee Heather Patton, “Getting to know our clients and their circumstances is part of the Fedgroup ethos. Every email, call or client interaction is an opportunity for us to make sure that we service our clients to the best of our ability.”
As an example, Patton points to a client who was severely injured on-site while at work in a factory. The client’s claim was approved, but after a full investigation, the Fedgroup team realised that the client’s disability/injury pay-out would not be enough to support her for the rest of her life.
As a result, it became clear that it was actually in the best interest of the client to return to some form of work in the long-term, to secure her future financially.
The client, however, was understandably traumatised by her injury and experience, and needed psychological counselling to make a full recovery and return to work in a different position, in a different department of the company.
“With the help of the psychologist and her employer, our client was able to return to work after a year, and could continue supporting her family without having to be faced with the trauma on a daily basis,” says Patton.
4. Innovation can ensure quicker turnaround in times of need
With technology at the core of their businesses, Fedgroup has not only motivated their employees to always do better, but have also empowered them to service every client with maximum speed and efficiency.
More often than not, a client calls or submits a claim because they have to deal with unforeseen circumstances, which is understandably stressful for them.
“Fedgroup aims to simplify our business by investing in smart technology so that our clients can expect reliable and predictable service levels at all times,” says Grant Field, CEO of Fedgroup.
Muhammad Jogee, Beneficiary Care Manager at Fedgroup, adds: “To make sure that we can get a snapshot of every client’s profile in just seconds, we moved all our products and clients to a single system in 2013. This has allowed us to make informed decisions by looking at our clients more holistically, having a full deck of information instead of different files lying in different departments.”
“Looking back over the past 30 years, the one thing that stands out in the history of Fedgroup is the ability to put people first. We believe that when you put people first, service naturally follows,” says Field.
This article was published in partnership with Fedgroup.