Life company Metropolitan has narrowly beaten rival Old Mutual in keeping its customers satisfied, according to the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) for Life Insurance Companies in 2017, conducted by business research company Consulta. Metropolitan’s customer service rating was
 80.8 points, while Old Mutual came in at 80.6 points. 

Although Metropolitan’s score declined by 1.8 points from 82.6 in 2016, there was no significant change in Old Mutual’s score between 2016 and 2017, according to the survey report.

“This year will certainly be the year to watch life insurance providers as they race to differentiate themselves to gain the leadership position in customer satisfaction,” says Consulta chief executive Professor Adré Schreuder.

Discovery Life improved the most, increasing from 74.0 in 2016 to 76.3 in 2017, but the company is still below par compared with the industry, Consulta’s report says. Liberty’s score dropped from 78.1 to 73.9, and Momentum’s fell from 77.5 to 74.7 in the same period.

Now in its sixth year, the SAcsi for Life Insurance Companies offers impartial insights into the South African life industry by measuring customers’ overall satisfaction out of 100. This satisfaction score is based on brands exceeding or falling short of customer expectations and assessing how well a brand is measured against respondents’ perception of the ideal life assurer. The index includes a Customer Expectations Index, a Perceived Quality Index and a Perceived Value Index. 

The 2017 sample included 2 696 life assurance customers who were randomly selected to participate in the survey.

“The two companies with the lowest scores, Momentum and Liberty, were adversely affected by changes in their leadership structures over the past year,” says Schreuder. 

“For companies to make customer satisfaction a priority, there needs to be consistency in strategic leadership as customer-centricity is entrenched in the business strategy.

“Transformation initiatives or internal programmes should not divert from the high levels of customer expectations in this industry.

“Metropolitan’s customers feel they are provided the best value for money from a product offering perspective, in terms of both a price and quality, which is not always easy to achieve. 

“Although Momentum and Metropolitan both fall under MMI Holdings, the same level of customer-centricity, or connection to customers, cannot be seen across both brands in the group,” says Schreuder.

The SAcsi research found that life assurers’ biggest challenges were related to the benefits and performance of products, pricing and communication – which are still on a basic level of customer expectations.

Life assurers are also measured against the Treating Customer Fairly (TCF) measure, an outcome-based regulatory and supervisory approach designed to ensure the delivery of specific, clearly articulated fairness outcomes for consumers.

Metropolitan delivered the best TCF score, particularly in the area of treating customers with respect and creating an open, win-win relationship. However, the overall industry’s TCF score fell short in the area of making it easy for consumers to change providers, complain, claim or consider another brand.

Peter Tshiguvho, the chief executive of Metropolitan Retail, says: “These scores highlight that we are able to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations through the products and services we offer, and prove that they know that ‘we see them’ and ‘we’re for them’. We are passionate about understanding our clients and their needs. Our solutions and processes are built off the back of the insights we receive from them and their advisers.”