By Seth D. Ansell
United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is an insurance and financial services company that serves U.S. military members and their families. Because of the unique niche of customers, USAA must train its employees to understand the specific wants and needs of its unique customer base. This case study intends to review what methods USAA utilizes to train their employees for their specific market and how it differs from other insurance companies.
USAA is an insurance company that provides its services to U.S. military members and their families. USAA has standards it uses for its employees to follow and for employees going through training. These standards include: Keeping USAA’s mission first, live the four core values (service, loyalty, honesty, integrity), be authentic and build trust with customers, create conditions for people to succeed, include diverse perspectives for superior results, and innovate and build for the future. USAA wants employees to put their personal goals behind the company’s goals and reputation, always act as a USAA representative, use consistent communication with honesty and empathy, create diverse work teams to get the most diverse opinions and perspectives, and more. USAA hopes that employees will do act in these ways if they follow all of the standards (USAA).
A poll in the U.S. found that people consider health and life insurance companies to be one of the most untrustworthy and least honest. USAA has gotten opposite results, were 81% of USAA customers felt that the company “works for them rather than for ‘the bottom line’” (Shoes). USAA has a unique approach were the employees try to understand the situation and needs of its customers. A large majority of USAA clients are military personnel and their families, and many of the employees are also former military personnel. This already creates a common tie between the customers and employees. To further connect their employees with their customers, USAA runs a 10-week training program for new employees that simulates the challenges of military personnel experience. The training includes wearing heavy military gear, given stern commands, and eating standard military meals. The training aims to give empathy to the customer’s from the employees, so that the employees will think before responding to a customer. In addition to the training new employees experience, the insurance firm also sponsors a nonprofit organization, titled Strikeouts for Troops. The organization provides military services members with comforts in military hospitals around the world (Fleurke, 2009).
The president of USAA, Josue Robles Jr., stated that “You serve the military best when you understand the military” (Shevory, 2014). But why does USAA want to target U.S. military service members and veterans for their financial services and insurance company? USAA is battling other companies for customers that are well-off financially. USAA want to keep its edge over other banks and insurance firms who are looking to get military members and veterans as well. Other banks such as Citigroup, U.S Bank, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America all have their own benefits programs to attract veterans. Service members are attractive because they have secure jobs and do not need to worry about layoffs, which are the kinds of customers banks would like. They are generally loyal and financially stable. Banks believe if they are able to get service members while they are young with attractive benefit programs, that they can build a customer for life by offering them more services, such as mortgages and credit, as they age (Shevory, 2014).
Another tool that USAA is using to attract military services personnel is to have specific services for them, like redeployment and retirement financial planning from other former military personnel. USAA also utilizes technology to be attractive for military personnel, by having mobile check deposit, video-chat support, and low-bandwidth sites that make it easier for busy military personnel and for military personnel who don’t know the next time they will have access to a physical bank. Because of USAA’s large understanding and empathy towards military personnel’s struggles and needs, they retain 98% of their customers (Shevory, 2014).
USAA not only treats their customers with respect, but they also treat their employees well. As seen in the past case studies about Netflix, Google, and Zappos, companies who treat their employees well, generally have better results. USAA offers employees full tuition reimbursement, free financial advice, generous 401k matches, company funded pension, and on-site child care and free messages on the job. The company also allows the employees to work as professionals; similar to how Google lets it employees work on an independent project, USAA allows employees to make and suggest changes to benefit their customers. (McGregor, 2005).
USAA also ranked third highest in overall auto-owner’s insurance satisfaction rating, according to JDPower’s satisfaction survey. The rating factors were: Overall satisfaction, first notice of loss, service interaction, appraisal, repair process, rental car experience, and settlement. USAA had scored a perfect 5 in all but one category; service interaction (J.D. Power, 2015).
USAA acts within all of the ethical decisions requirement, specifically within requiring employees to act within their code of conduct. All work to make ethical decisions is wasted if those in the organization do not follow the code of conduct, and USAA tries to keep all employees within the clearly outline code of conduct through an intensive 10-week training program.
USAA’s code of ethics and ethical treatment of customers and employees is similar to the way my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, attempts to treat others outside and within our own organization. Our fraternity commits to many volunteer and philanthropy fundraising. Our national philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Because of our dedication and ties to volunteer work, we would want a code of ethics to reflect that. Here is an example of a possible code of ethics for the Ashland University local chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, which shows our deep devotion to philanthropy.
- Always conduct yourself in a manner in which you would if a St. Jude’s representative or St. Jude’s patient was there watching.
- Give everything you can while volunteering. You do not need to volunteer 24/7, but it should be a major time commitment for you.
- Treat everyone with respect, specifically within the fraternity.
- Be understanding and empathetic of others, and always try to make the world a better place.
These would be a good set of code of ethics to follow because they would require members to act and treat others with high regard as if they were always volunteering. Volunteering and service to others are key values or our organization.
Fleurke, B. X. (2009, January). Walking A Mile In The Shoes of Your Customer. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.corporate-ethics.org/walking-a-mile-in-the- shoes-of-your-customer/
J.D. Power. (2015). U.S. Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.jdpower.com/ratings/study/U.S.-Auto-Insurance-Claims- Satisfaction-Study/679ENG
McGregor, J. (2005, October 01). Employee Innovator: USAA. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3064642/the-future-of-work/gm-to-top-tech- talent-ditch-silicon-valley-for-detroit
Shevory, K. (2014, September 1). Boot Camp for Bankers. Retrieved October 17, 2016. USAA. (n.d.). The USAA Standard. Retrieved October 17, 2016.