Mar 13, 2019 in Business

Introduction

Over many years, the role of customer service in the success of any given business was not noticeable. However, the advent of technology has brought about the realization that success in businesses is not only about the volume of sales. A number of organizations do not understand the role that excellent customer service plays in the success of their businesses. As such, the managers hold a belief that business success is all about the products available for sale, and that customer service plays little role in the sales volume. However, the need for businesses to remain competitive in the market now calls for strategies that will help to win as well as maintain customers. One of such strategy is the art of excellent customer service. Customers get satisfaction for any product or service with respect to the level of performance before and after buying given products or services. 

Many business people nowadays are embracing the art of good customer service. It is important to them that they buy the right product. Every given product has its tangible qualities. The choices that customers make concerning different products in the market depend on the comparison of features that each product has. As such, businesses have a task of ensuring that they employ good customer service to win customers. Unless buyers get to know more about a given product, it becomes less likely for them to purchase it. Therefore, it is the duty of retailers and any other sellers to embrace good customer service as a selling factor. It is important for consumers to be aware of the product itself as well as any other services that come with buying a given good or service.

Even though many people have never had a second thought about the impact customer service can have in terms of sales, it is important to utilize it since it plays a significant role in overall sales. Many people would argue that customer service does not have any impact in the final decision of a consumer to purchase a certain product; however, there are key features of good customer service and advertising, such as brand, style, comfort and price that go a long way to persuade customers to make a purchase. This paper, therefore, aims at analyzing the effect of customer service on the general purchasing power of customers with reference to the case of MassMutual financial group.

 
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Executive Summary

There are so many insurance companies all over the world but the MassMutual Financial Group stands out in the services that it offers to its network of customers. MassMutual Financial Group came into being back in 1851 with its initial premises being a single room. However, with time, the company experienced an enormous growth owing to the sales returns that it received. This company was entirely focusing on ensuring that there is complete protection of people’s future and their family. The company prides itself in its mutuality whereby everything it does is for policy owners’ benefits. Millions of people nowadays are enjoying retirement and financial securities from MassMutual Financial Group. Presently, the company ranks in the Fortune 500 as well as having its name in the list of - insurance companies favorable to people all over the world in offering health and life insurance policies. 

Services / Products

MassMutual Financial Group is an insurance company that focuses on serving to its network of customers around the world. It offers services to individuals and families as well as to organizations and businesses. It has a number of insurance products that are unique in their own way. There are many reasons why MassMutual has become successful as an insurance company. It owes its success to the fact that it recognizes that it is important for companies in its position to understand customer goals and situations. From such understanding, the company makes it their duty to help customers to understand the available options. 

Therefore, in the aspect of individuals and families, the company considers life events for people who are getting married, having children, experiencing illness, having children as well as protecting such people from the financial impacts they experience after accidents. For businesses and organizations, MassMutual Company provides services such as life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities and long term care insurance.

Target Group

According to Lumpkin, almost every single person in the world requires insurance coverage. As such, MassMutual targets every person since there is a need for all people to have an insurance coverage that is in line with the perils that they might be exposed to. However, this company has special interest in businesses and organizations, individuals and families. Unlike other similar companies, MassMutual looks at their customers’ needs; their interest is on the welfare of the policy owner and members, and their main focus is to ensure that the policy owners benefit from the products it offers. The company therefore, makes it their responsibility to offer the best financial advice concerning the future of their members and policy owners. As such, one of the aims of MassMutual Company is to invest in any given business opportunity in which the policy owners and members will benefit.

Management

MassMutual Financial Group owes much of its achievement to its group of qualified financial professionals. The company has a wealthy network of representatives in many parts of the United States of America, who help in the company’s management. These individuals have the necessary training that makes them understand customers’ needs and match them with the right financial goals. Top management leadership of any company is considered to be an important part in ensuring customer satisfaction. As such, the leadership of MassMutual financial Group has laid strategies to ensure that customer satisfaction through excellent customer service is their top priority. The management ensures the achievement of such goals through employee training and screening.

Financial Details

Over the past years, MassMutual Financial Group was consistent in its high ratings in terms of financial strength competing out most other companies that are offering similar services. 

Discussion

In every given business scenario, the interest of the customer takes preference. Just in the same way, the interest and needs of consumers with respect to insurance is a factor that many insurance companies do not take key note of. However, if only insurance companies specializing in both health and life insurance policies could take the needs of their customers with the weight it deserves, then both customers and companies would be successful. There are a number of factors to look at in a company or organization before concluding that they care for the needs of their customers. Some of the factors revolve around the features below.

Customer Service

This is a term that has a number of definitions depending on a given orientation. Nevertheless, Weitz and Levy suggest that customer service is any activity that aims at increasing the value as well as worthiness of a product or services that a customer buys. As such, one can not quantify the amount of customer service that is enough to cater for the needs of the customer. However, Donnelly and Kirchen point out that customer service is the quality of a seller that is intangible but identifiable in the sale of goods or services to the consumer.

On the other hand, the institute of Customer Service defines customer service as a collection of all the activities that any given business or organization engages in, as a way of meeting the expectations of consumers regarding product and service satisfaction. Accordingly, customer satisfaction is all about meeting their needs. However, sellers of services and products, therefore, should provide the necessary customer service in order to ensure their customers’ satisfaction.

In the light of the above definition, it is suggestive that customer service associates to a great extent to the level of buyer satisfaction. As such, the research establishes that the weight of customer service is high on businesses that deal with the provision of services to their customers other than those that deal with physical products. Many scholars point out that good customer service is the factor that attracts, as well as, wins and keeps buyers coming to a given organization for particular services. The reason why given organizations succeed in the midst of others that offer similar services is the quality of customer service that consumers get from them. 

For example, MassMutual Financial group has been successful for the past years despite the fact that, it is an insurance company, and all insurance companies in the whole world offer same insurance policies. Weitz and Levy attribute such success to the excellent customer service at MassMutual Company. All the companies that specialize in insurance policies offer life insurance to its customers which makes it hard to cite the difference in terms of service products. However, the difference though is noticeable through the intangible qualities. Having noted this, MassMutual has embraced excellent customer experience.

This company has, therefore, planned strategically on how to make excellent customer service a priority to its clients. MassMutual Group captures good customer service as a pathway in which the company positions itself in the marketplace. By so doing, the company has become distinctive in helping its clients make the right choices.

The chart below shows MassMutual customer service plan.

MassMutual customer service plan

 

Evidently, customer service is the heart of all activities at MassMutual, without which its position in the marketplace is negatively affected. Good customer service takes into consideration the development of customer-company bond, which leads to lasting relationships. The relationship built is symbiotic one in that both parties benefit from one another. 

To begin with, the client benefits since the company provides to them services in line with their individual needs and goals. On the other hand, the company benefits since a client receives satisfaction from the services and products it avails. Research shows that whenever customers get satisfaction from a given organization, they are likely to go back to that organization for more services in the future. As such, the strategy that MassMutual employs is to win new customers through excellent customer service and maintain the existing ones. This way, the company is able to position itself well in the marketplace.

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Customer Satisfaction

Another aspect that plays a great role in the success of any given organization or business is the level of satisfaction that consumers get from the services and products available to them. According to Nair, customer satisfaction entails the fulfillment of the customer’s needs and wants when they buy a given service or product. One can evaluate satisfaction by looking at the extent that a seller goes to meet the expectations of a consumer. As such, this comparison which identifies performance as well as the expectation during the post purchase stage is what many analysts use to evaluate the level of customer satisfaction.

In the light of this definition, MassMutual strives to make sure that all its customers get satisfaction. As such, the company has strategies to monitor the quality of services that its customers receive. In a scale of 5, every four calls that come in from customers seeking clarification, advice or any other service are answered in a span of 20 seconds. On an average basis, an individual call gets an answer in 12 seconds. There are representatives every time ready to respond to any issues that customers bring in. Therefore, customers here do not get a disappointment any time they seek assistance. Their needs are looked into with immediate effect ensuring that their expectations are met. The company focuses its entire operations to provision of service that is in line with the expectations and needs of the customer.

MassMutual Group looks at customer satisfaction in line with the service performance as the customers perceive it alongside their expectations. It uses the “Disconfirmation Theory” to measure the level of customer satisfaction. This theory compares the level of a customer’s performance after the usage of any given service or product, with the level of expectation that they had prior to purchase of the service or product. The point of assessment is whether the performance level is better or worse. If the expectation exceeds the level of performance, the implication is a “negative disconfirmation”, while a “positive disconfirmation” occurs whenever the expectation level is lower than the performance level. However, for cases where both levels are equal, “confirmation” occurs. According to Nair, “positive disconfirmation” and “confirmation” give rise to customer satisfaction.

MassMutual Group makes sure that it services and insurance products lead to “confirmation” or “positive confirmation” at all times.

Benefits of customer satisfaction

The benefits that come with having customer satisfaction are numerous. According to Lumpkin, customer satisfaction acts as the force that drives customers to buy products or get services from a certain seller. As such, maintain customer satisfaction ensures that businesses as well as marketers get a metric through which they can devise ways of improving their businesses. For the case of MassMutual, the kind of customer service that they maintain at their premises allows for high customer satisfaction. According to Massmutual.com, the high customer turn out is as a result of customer satisfaction. MassMutual identifies a number of benefits that the group gets as a result of satisfying the needs of their customer in line with their expectations. The organization, as such believes on the importance of customer satisfaction.  MassMutual Financial group sees the importance of customer satisfaction since it acts as a point whereby they get differentiation. Not many companies in the service industry embrace customer satisfaction. For this reason, MassMutual takes such advantage to win many customers to its side. Secondly, customer satisfaction enables the company to minimize the possibilities of customer churn. Through such customer satisfaction, there is the possibility of increasing the lifetime value of customers at MassMutual. From the foregoing, customer satisfaction is an aspect that is at the centre of winning as well as maintaining customers in any given business.

Customer-Centric Focus

Even though many businesses have customer-focused strategies, research reveals that there has been no improvement in the level of customer satisfaction among these organizations. The reason why such strategies fail is the mode of implementation. MassMutual Group understands that customer centric focus can never be equated to passion; it goes way past mere passion to satisfy customers. The company implements skillful strategies to ensure customer-centric focus. MassMutual steps out of the ordinary by not extending previous strategies but resolves to focus on how much customers are satisfied as opposed to maximization of sales. In its strategies, this company focuses of the maximization of the customer’s profits and revenue. Maintaining trust with its customers is the driving force behind the successful customer-centric focus.

Organizational Leadership

Top management leadership of any company is considered an important part in ensuring customer satisfaction. As such, the leadership of MassMutual financial Group has laid strategies to ensure that customer satisfaction through excellent customer service is their top priority.  According to Massmutual.com, the management ensures the achievement of such goals through employee training and screening. Since customer service is the goal of MassMutual, the company has training sessions for its employees. It makes use of the flow chart below.

flow chart

The company has its own organizational beliefs that it has to uphold. However, since the employees deal with the customers face to face most of the time, the management ensures that they get the necessary training about excellent customer service. The employee training is done through monthly seminars and annual workshop.

In addition, on a yearly basis, the employees should accomplish a given ethnics educational course. The course that the employees undergo involves a mix of procedural or technical aspects with brand recognition, sales as well as communication. The educational course that the employees take is appealing so all styles of learning along with the preferences since it offers an approach that is blended. By so doing, the organizational leadership ensures that they uphold the company’s code of conduct. Resultantly, the employees are fit to handle whatever kind of customer need that crops, with the end results being customer satisfaction.

However, in order to achieve its goal on customer satisfaction, the financial group ensures that its employees, through training, maintain certain standards of work. Prior to carrying out any training, the organizational leadership carries out research on what the expectations of the consumers are with respect to insurance services. The management therefore, puts into consideration these expectations to practice through providing insurance and financial service to its clients.

The first step is to ensure that the employees maintain courtesy in all their operations and that they get the necessary information about the needs of the customers as well as what is best for them. Secondly, the employees receive training on how to handle any customer complain fairly and promptly as well as make follow up. Most importantly, the employees in this organization receive training on how to offer informed advice regarding the organization’s services and products.

Benefits of Customer Service Focus

Research has established a number of benefits that an organization rips from the delivery of excellent customer service to its customers. The success of any business depends on the volume of sales that the business gets at the end of the day. However, the number of customers that frequent the business is likely to determine the eventual volume of sales. With respect to MassMutual, delivery of good customer service to its clients has been a boost to the organization in general. 

To begin with, its excellent services have built the group’s image not only within the United States of America but to other regions of the world as well. Such recognition goes a long way in the amount of sales that the company makes at the end of each financial year. Secondly, the company gets repeat clients as a result of the excellent services that they received from MassMutual. It is not accidental for the company to receive repeat business. The type of relationship that the company maintains with its customers makes them come back for same or difference financial services. In addition, MassMutual has created a niche for itself as a result of the good customer service at all its premises. Customers in need of insurance services always find it hard to get a company that takes care of all their needs and expectation. As such, the provision of excellent service makes MassMutual stand out among numerous other companies in this industry.

Lastly, MassMutual Financial Group has enhanced employee morale through its strategies of embracing customer service. The creation of a working environment that takes priority of the customers improves the employee morale.

Evaluation and Conclusion

MassMutual Financial Group acts as a model for other companies in the service industry, especially in the insurance business. Its strength can be seen from its customer-centric focus, as it  is entirely different from what most other companies focus on. However, looking at the general performance of MassMutual Company with respect to the services it offers, how it avails them to the customers, it is convincing that customers’ need is the heart of all its operation. That explains the reasons as to why MassMutual Company embraces excellent customer service in every single operation that it involves in.

Research shows that many insurance companies in the whole world have a challenge of focusing on the interest of the clients. Even though research is available about the importance of customer service and customer satisfaction, many organization in the service industry are yet to embrace this elusive quality. Customer satisfaction is the core of any organization in the service industry. It takes into consideration, relationship management, service provision, adequate loyalty as well as the value for money. A company that focuses on ensuring that its customers get the highest level of satisfaction through excellent customer service is likely to position itself well in the marketplace. 

Customer centric focus cannot be equated to a mere slogan. It is the strategy to embrace organizational culture to conduct business. Even though such a strategy is difficult to implement at times, it comes with its share of benefits. MassMutual financial group embraces the power of customer-centric focus. Customers are literally the people who keep any business running. As such, if there are no customers for given products then the company producing such products will close. In the light of this, customer-centric is a very powerful tool in the business of ensuring customer satisfaction. 

From the case study of MassMutual Financial Group, it is evident that excellent customer service is a suitable way to win and maintain customers. The core business of any organization is to ensure that they attract customers to their side. Customers are the parties that matter in the success of any business. Customers play the largest role in the returns of any company or business. As such, a company or business that entirely focuses on maintaining customer-centric focus is likely to have a wealthy customer base and exercises flexibility in its operation. Therefore, the combination of excellent customer service, customer satisfaction and enhanced organizational leadership is the key to the secret of MassMutual Financial Group.

 

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