THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF VALUE-ADDED SERVICES FOR CLIENTS
This is according to Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa, who says that many value-added services serve dual purposes. “On the one hand, these services have become essential offerings as part of a core product. For example, roadside assistance is included as a standard offering by most car insurers in South Africa. This service is typically a preventative measure as it also safeguards customers against potential dangers that can be encountered when a client is stuck next to the side of the road, especially late at night.
“Another example of an added service is medical emergency response – often linked to travel insurance – which provides medical care while being transported to the nearest medical facility in the shortest time possible.”
Increasingly, value added services are designed to respond to clients’ changing lifestyle needs and serve as a mechanism of convenience, explains Colman. “A typical example of such services are the facilitation of annual vehicle license renewals, or funeral assistance services which take care of an entire funeral arrangement at a discounted rate.
“Providing essential emergency response and lifestyle convenience services has become an integral part of various industries in South Africa, but especially the financial services sector as it also reduces the average cost of an insurance claim.
“For instance, the Take Me Home driver assistance service prevents drunk driving on our roads, which ultimately reduces the risk of accidents associated with drunk driving. Health insurers also benefit from this added service as the medical expenses as a result of accidents caused by drunk driving are curbed and fewer medical claims will be received. The industry as a whole benefits from reduced claims and this, in turn, will assist with stabilising premiums, which will be welcomed by all consumers.”
She notes that most customers have come to expect their financial services providers to offer some form of value-added service. “If a current provider does not have these benefits, consumers will often opt to move to a competitor that does offer these type of services. The same applies for loyalty and/ or lifestyle reward programmes. If a client has a need for this type of additional servicing, they will choose a service provider that can respond to that need.”
Colman believes that assistance services providers can play a key role in ensuring that insurance providers get it right when it comes to packaging beneficial value-added services for their specific clients. “The right provider will discourage the use of services with a history of low utilisation and advise the insurer to rather focus on services that have proven to be of high value.
“Find an assistance services provider that has enough critical volume to contain costs and has the ability to demand the best quality care, infrastructure and 24/7 availability. A mobile app alone will not provide comfort to a client faced with a life threatening situation where human intervention is essential,” concludes Colman.