Working in Customer Service Gave My Career a Boost

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By Andrew Champi | October 6, 2015

Penn Mutual takes pride in its customer-focused culture, something I can attest to personally. Starting my career in Penn Mutual’s customer service area, my two years there gave me a solid foundation of Penn Mutual’s values and how we utilize those values to help our policyholders and advisers on a daily basis. I am one of many who have applied this customer-focused culture to each responsibility and challenge they have faced since our careers at Penn Mutual began, opening doors of opportunity throughout the company.

When I first interviewed with the customer service team, it was clear that Penn Mutual had a different perspective on customer service. The job they described didn’t come off as a temporary position to handle simple day-to-day tasks. Instead, it was presented as a long-term position that would expose me to all different parts of the organization. Only a year after graduating from college, I was looking to explore my career options, and the role that I was presented with in customer service sounded like a good place to start.

Training as a customer service representative starts out with a thorough and in-depth review of Penn Mutual’s methodology and current products, but it doesn’t stop there. We not only had to master an understanding of Penn Mutual’s current products and riders, we would also have to broaden our focus and review any product ever sold, so that if a policyholder came to us with a question about a universal life or whole life policy they purchased in the 1980s, we were prepared to help them.

As part of the customer-centric approach utilized in Penn Mutual’s customer service area, the training curriculum is focused on providing comprehensive understanding and knowledge so that each representative can have a productive conversation with our clients and advisers, rather than following a high level script that cannot possibly cover all scenarios. In my first stint as a customer service representative at a loan company right after college, there were scripts for everything. It was extremely difficult to have a genuine conversation with a customer where I could relay knowledge of the product and provide the assistance needed to find the best solution. Penn Mutual’s approach truly allows customer service representatives to take part in any conversation or question brought forward by a client or adviser to help them understand how a product works.

The most important part of Penn Mutual’s customer service approach is providing opportunities for representatives to display their subject matter expertise, both internally and externally across the organization. Having the opportunity to be involved in the launches of new or re-priced products and participate in training within the department on how the products change and how it would impact service has been very influential on my career at Penn Mutual thus far. I had the opportunity to participate in discussions and present the customer service perspective back to other areas of the company, such as product management and IT, on how our systems might handle these changes and ensure that we were able to maintain great service to our policyholders during and after the transition. Being involved in these discussions across the organization provided some of the most valuable insights on how each department works towards the same goal while having differing perspectives on the business.

From the day I started in customer service, it was always made clear to me that the training and opportunities within the department will provide each individual with everything needed to become a master of our craft. It was then up to you to take that knowledge and run with it by providing support to whatever areas your skill set and career aspirations may fit best. Just before my second anniversary at Penn Mutual, I became a team leader in customer service, and this allowed me to get even more involved in projects with other departments. Shortly after that, I was presented with an opportunity to enter our product management department as a product analyst working on product development and analysis of our key competitors in the industry.

My experience as a customer service representative has been integral for me to become successful in my current role. One of my primary responsibilities is to assess our competitors in the market and work with our pricing and marketing teams to help them understand where we may be lacking or where we may have advantages. The lessons I learned in customer service about life insurance, and how it impacted the lives of the policyholders I spoke with, adds value to my role as a product analyst on a daily basis.

I began this post describing how the culture within Penn Mutual is very customer-focused. That’s certainly something that you experience as a customer service representative, but I find the same customer-focused perspective in the product management department. There are often times we have the opportunity to make a decision that, while it may make a life insurance product more attractive to sell or more profitable, it could be less advantageous for the policyholder in the long-term. Our approach in developing the products that I’ve been involved with has always put the interests of policyholders first, an approach that has been in place for quite some time. As a mutual company, the policyholders are the owners of the company, and we are always thinking in their best interest when we are providing service, developing our products, designing our marketing materials and so on.

During my time in customer service, I experienced first-hand how our customers used our products and the things our advisers needed to service those products effectively. I’ve since moved on to a position where I have the opportunity to be at the ground level of our product development and implement many of the things I’ve learned from my time in customer service. I get to see full circle how our values of a consistent client experience, of a customer-focused culture, come to fruition in almost any process that we put our hands on.

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