Road to excellence: USAA – Learning from USAA’s customer experience best practice
Nunwood’s US Customer Experience Excellence Report 2015 has found that leading US brands are amongst the best in the world for customer experience management. Their CEE scores outperform the UK by 5%, thanks to their customer-driven innovations and customer-pioneering CEOs. Leading the way is the United Services Automobile Association, or USAA – a financial services company specialising in banking, investing and insurance to people who have served, or currently serve, in the US military. With an exceptional CEE score of 8.73, USAA is the best in the world in the pillars of Expectations, Integrity, Resolution and Empathy, and as such, is the epitome of customer experience best practice.
The Six Pillar scores vs. industry average:
Personalisation – 12%
Time and Effort – 12%
Expectations – 19%
Integrity – 17%
Resolution – 15%
Empathy – 17%
The company was formed in 1922 by a group of US army officers, who were struggling to secure car insurance owing to the perception that they belonged in a high-risk group, owing to their involvement with the United States military. The officers agreed to self-insure one another, and the United Services Automobile Association was born. Today, the brand's total assets are worth an estimated $122 billion, and the company has been hailed as one of the pioneers of direct marketing, conducting its business using employees instead of agents.
Indeed, the brand takes pride in its customer experience management as well, showing particular prowess in the pillar of Integrity. On its website, USAA states that its mission "drives how we serve you," adding that when customers join USAA, they "become part of a family that's there for [them] during every stage of [their] life." It goes on to tell customers that it's "dedicated to helping [them] achieve [their] financial goals." This includes a commitment to 'down-selling,' something that underpins its day-to-day practices. According to USAA, this ensures that "the customer only gets exactly what they need."
Undoubtedly, this is an example of customer experience best practice that many brands could learn from, particularly in the UK, where the financial services industry has been viewed with a degree of mistrust following stories of mis-sold PPI and manipulated LIBOR rates. USAA does not merely express a moral standpoint, but follows-through on its promises, applying integrity to every aspect of its business practices, and thus ensuring the customer has the best possible experience.
The brand also puts the customer at the centre of its technological innovations, making investments that reflect the needs of its increasingly mobile member base. One such innovation is its cloud-based mobile app, which utilises social media technology to help people stay in touch with family members who have been posted abroad. Furthermore, USAA became the very first financial services company to allow customers to check their bank balances via text message; the customer was required to text the company with their account number, and they'd receive a reply telling them their balance. There is also NINA, the Nuance Interactive Natural Assistant, who acts as a voice-controlled personal banker on mobile devices. Moreover, the brand now offers technology for customers who have been involved in car accidents; stricken drivers are able to instantly attach photographs and voice recordings to their insurance claims, which can be initiated remotely. These innovations are symptomatic of a brand which is not obsessed with technology, but customers, and has their needs and best interests at the forefront of its operations. Its excellent scores in the pillars of Empathy and Personalisation are a reflection of this.
As Tim Knight, Nunwood's CCO, puts it: "As the number one brand in the 2015 US CEE study, USAA epitomises customer experience best practice. With extraordinary results across The Six Pillar SystemTM, including world-leading scores in four out of the six pillars, it is setting a fine example for customer experience management brands across the globe."
For more insight into US customer experience download the full report