Petplan

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Creates Dedicated Fans with its Passion for Top-Notch Service

by Connie Kelly

When you call Petplan to ask a question about coverage for your pet's injury, you'll talk to a Happiness Manager.  Walk into their headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, aLobbyPhoto.jpgnd you will be struck by the open, colorful space that encourages creativity and reflects the love of pets. The barking dog doorbell is the first indication that this is not your typical insurance company. The conference rooms are named Sit and Woof. There are murals of dogs and cats at play. The wastebaskets are fire hydrants. And real, live dogs and cats sit happily at their owners' feet.    
 
Dedication to Pets and Exceptional Service

The atmosphere is playful but the dedication to pet parents and pets at Petplan is not taken lightly. Each and every person who works there takes the job quite seriously. They have a passion for pets and understand the pull of emotions that go with being a pet parent especially when their furry friend is sick or injured. This pet insurance company is clearly dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets bounding into old age.

 Co-founders Chris and Natashphoto-3.JPGa Ashton base their business on a philosophy of gaining fans, not customers. Petplan works to exceed the expectations of its clients by implementing groundbreaking policies for pet parents. And the business world is taking note. In 2014, Petplan was listed among the top 50 companies on Forbes' annual ranking of America's Most Promising Companies for the second consecutive year.
 
What better way to deliver top notch service and attract fans than to partner with Communico and introduce the MAGIC® of Customer Relations to the team? Using this program was a no-brainer for this innovative company.

MAGIC Makes a Measurable Difference

Communico began working with Petplan in February 2013. At that time, Petplan Happiness Managers were hitting The 33 Points, the MAGIC Standard, less than 68% of the time. A year later, that number stood at 90%, with far fewer escalated calls and a team that was confident and knowledgeable.

Chad Dull, Petplan customer service supervisor, attributes this success to a variety of steps. First, the whole team participated in a two-day MAGIC program so they could fully understand the reasons for each point, gain confidence and learn ways to communicate more effectively with their clients.

Follow-up Coaching Sustains Success

Next, every month, each person has the advantage of listening to three of their randomly pulled customer calls, which they help score, followed by coaching and an action plan. The follow-up is a key ingredient in the team's overall success. Without that, MAGIC would just be a fun experience. Chad says, "The service team appreciates an objective performance metric. They can clearly see where they need to improve and understand the reasons for changing behavior." Chad has noticed his team's increased self-confidence, "They now have the vocabulary to communicate to our customers in an empathic fashion without sounding scripted."

They're having fun along the way too. He adds, "They hold each other accountable, they share best practices, and they support and celebrate each other. All this helps them stay engaged and energized. MAGIC has helped us all understand that it's not just about the facts in a conversation. It's about connecting, taking the time to understand the emotional effect of a sick or injured pet, having a one-on-one relationship with the pet parent and setting clear expectations. All this leads to a less stressful environment, and that's exciting for us."

Improved Customer and Employee Relationships

Heather Johnson, Petplan quality assurance and training specialist, says, "Even though I was skeptical of MAGIC at first, I have adapted it whole-heartedly into my professional and personal life. Communication is the most important aspect of being human, and MAGIC makes it easier and more fun to connect with others."

She adds, "When I first started here before MAGIC, it was not unusual to receive calls from angry customers. Because we didn't know how to react to their feelings, we actually delivered what I would call ‘stiff' service and many calls escalated as a result. This was not good for my team or for our business." Heather concludes, "Since MAGIC was introduced, the number of angry calls has significantly decreased. We have a better relationship with our policyholders and with each other. The entire vibe of the office has changed and is more positive and productive."   

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MAGIC isn't just reserved for the Happiness Managers. Everyone in the company gets to participate— claims personnel, sales, accounting, public relations, marketing and top management all get the chance to learn how to communicate more effectively.

Organizational Mindset of Exceptional Service

"The positive change has been systemic and significant," says Michael Miller, director at Petplan. "MAGIC has given our organization the ability to measure and quantify the value of our customer interactions. Once areas of improvement are identified, through MAGIC we can now provide our Happiness Managers with the tools and training necessary to modify their approach to give them a better chance to have a positive impact. As a result, our team feels empowered with the ability to turn challenging interactions around. Organizationally, the training has helped Petplan realize that outstanding customer service needs to be a mindset, and should reach much further than just our customer service department."

Creative Reinforcement and Celebrating Success

That's why the two-day MAGIC program is not just a "one and done" experience for the Petplan team. Chad and his team have come up with creative ways to reinforce MAGIC behaviors. For example, during one month, a topic of the week was chosen. Then the team emailed Chad with favorite MAGIC phrases used to address that topic. The person with the best phrase was awarded a $25 gift card.

Team members get to catch their co-workers, or even themselves, in "MAGICal" moments. If a Petplan associate overhears a conversation reflecting the MAGIC approach to resolving problems, that person is nominated to be in the running for a gift card as well. MAGIC excitement abounds, and with innovation and enthusiasm as Petplan signatures, the Customer Service Team continues to think of new ways to attract fans.

The Ashtons and their management team have worked hard to put together a company that helps employees thrive, recognizes their hard work, and celebrates their accomplishments with touches like treat jars, cupcake days and balloon bouquets. By bringing MAGIC to the team, they offered them the best way to learn to transform their passion into a winning combination of expert insurance guidance and clear and effective communication. They seem to have set a new standard for employee and customer – or fan! – appreciation.
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