USAA : Redefining Customer Service

By : Tony Snider

INTRODUCTION

No matter the type of business, understanding the needs unique to its customers is crucial.  USAA is an insurance and financial company that serves members of the United States Military and families.  USAA is unique because of how highly they value their customer’s opinions.  This case study will deal with how USAA as a company trains its employees to be able to deal with certain situations and to be able to make their customers the happiest.  Not only does USAA emphasize to its employees the importance of a happy customer, their customer service representatives also make up over 60% of the company’s employees (McGregor, 2005).

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

At USAA they hold themselves to highest of standards when it comes to customer care.  At the company they have what is called the “USAA Standard”.  This standard is used to make sure that all employees are aligned similarly and are working toward the same goals when it comes to customer satisfaction.  At USAA the standard is comprised of keeping their membership and mission first, living through their core values, being authentic and building trust, creating condition for people to succeed, purposefully including diverse perspectives for the best results, and being innovative in building toward the future (USAA, 2015).  All USAA employees, most of whom are former military personnel, undergo much training designed to help them understand the perspective of customer care (Fleurke, 2009).  This training  also integrates their “USAA Standard”, making sure each and every employee is able to give the most productive care to their customers while still following the Standard itself.

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Photo Credit : bizjournals.com

The USAA Standard closely aligns with two of the Perspectives of Ethical Decision Making.  The foundational perspective, which states that the organization has an explicit code of ethics, is the first to come to mind.  The Standard is exactly that, an explicit code of ethics that needs to be followed by all.  Also, the relationship-based perspective seems to fit as well.  This perspective states that ethical behavior is achieved through open and honest communication with the public.  I feel that the relationship-based perspective is present much in part after learning that around 300 USAA employees had been doing push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and much more, after signing up for a taste of military basic training.  This was done because at USAA they stated how “you serve the military best when you understand the military” (Shevory, 2014).  This shows to me how USAA is going public with its relations and with how willing they are to do anything to give the best customer service to its clients, in a part of business that typically gets bashed for its poor customer service.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Although I have never specifically worked for a company ran much like an insurance company such as USAA, I have been a part of teams that have held similar standards and ethics.  In high school, our football team needed to conduct ourselves in an honorable manner, as we were constantly in the spotlight, both on the field and in the community.  We also had a specific person to run our social media pages and ran fundraisers.  This taught me a lot about what standards are important for a team, or even business to be successful and respected.  If I were to design a code of ethics for a business, I would use much of what I learned from my time in high school football.  But, with all of this, our high school football team did not incorporate a structured code of ethics.  If I were to create four ethical standards they would be :

  • Conduct yourself with class and respect, both on and off the field
  • Be selfless in helping around the school and community
  • Support Riverdale in every way possible
  • Build lasting friendships and brotherhoods with those teammates around you

These would be my four ethical standards because of how well they sum up the importance of playing football at Riverdale.   First off, with conducting yourself with class and respect, it is as simple as that.  As an athlete, especially a football player, the spotlight is on your at all times, not just on the field.  This would help players to be more respectful in all aspects of life.  Next, being selfless in helping around the school and community may be the most important in my eyes.  As an athlete in high school I was constantly signing up to volunteer my time to help for events, a trait that I have carried with myself to this day.  Then, supporting the school itself in every way possible is important because of the amount of support that football gets.  Yes, football is the big money-maker at every high school, but supporting other sports teams and clubs and returning the favor is imperative.  Lastly, building lasting friendships and brotherhoods will always stick with me.  To this day most of my closest friends have come from playing football alongside them.  Working out every day for football is not necessarily easy, so having friends, that are more like brothers, around you makes it that much more enjoyable and unforgettable.  These ethical standards typically do not need to necessarily be taught to new members, but they would need to be reminded of them from time to time.  Having these standards posted and displayed would drill them into the players’ minds.  In my experience, playing the game of football indirectly taught me these ethical standards, of being respectful, selfless, supportive of those around me, and creating lifelong brotherhoods.

 

References

The USAA Standard. (2015). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.usaajobs.com/docs/USAA-Standard.pdf

Fleurke, B. X. (n.d.). Menu. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.corporate-ethics.org/walking-a-mile-in-the-shoes-of-your-customer/

Shevory, K. (2014). Boot Camp for Bankers. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/boot-camp-for-bankers/?_r=0

McGregor, J. (2012). Employee Innovator: USAA. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/53782/employee-innovator-usaa

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