USAA: Serving Those Who Have Served

by Samm Stutzman 

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http://www.pexels.com/photo/flag-america-patriotic-veteran-6895/

There is no question that the men and women who have served and continue to serve this country deserve the best for putting their lives on the line to protect us. A company who also strongly agrees with this is USAA, an insurance company for military members and their families. Their mission: to help service men, women, and their families in anyway that they can. In this case study it will look at how USAA trains its employees to be able to handle these unique situations and to give their customers the best experiences possible while also taking a look at the ethics behind it all.

When thinking about insurance companies the first feelings that come to mind are probably not the most pleasant. “According to a Harris Poll over the course of three years, people in the United States considered health and life insurance companies among the least honest and trustworthy” (Fleurke, 2009). While this may be the standard thoughts for most insurance companies, like Allstate or State Farm, USAA has been receiving some very different statistics from its customers. In fact, they have gotten just the opposite response from their customers, saying that USAA quote “works for them rather than for ‘the bottom line'” (Fleurke, 2009). Most of this success comes from the company’s customer service, who are unique because of the company’s very different approach to training their employees.

Training to be an USAA employee is much different than any job training you have ever seen before. Unlike the normal training process where you might be shown where the copy machine is or what desk will be assigned to you the USAA employees are drilled with seemingly endless amounts of push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks. This unique training process takes about 10-weeks, and can be summed up as going to a military boot camp. Now some might say that this type of training is absurd for an office job, that it really does not prepare the worker for what they are going to be doing, but there is a method behind USAA’s madness. With this type of training these employees are able to relate to their customers. For most likely the customers they talk to everyday have gone through similar training when they were in active service. This insight allows the employee to help make a more clearer and more effective decisions when handling their customer’s insurance cases. As mentioned by an employee “you serve the military best when you understand the military” (Shevory, 2014).

The perks that come from this training do not only greatly benefit the customer but also the employees. With so much success USAA has been able over the years to give many perks back to its loyal employees. In 2006 “all employees, from executives to representatives, saw bonuses nearing 22% of their pay” (McGregor, 2005). Like seen in previous case studies USAA also follows the idea that happy employees leads to better product. They do not limit their employees to do just what their job title, but allow service reps to suggest changes that could be beneficial to customers (McGregor, 2005).

One great aspect of USAA is that they are not afraid to show the public their high standards for their employees. On their website they list all the standards that they have, and these standards align very well with some ethical decisions that were gone over in class. One ethical decision in particular that they show is the foundational perspective. They show this by having a very clear code of ethics that they make sure is the guideline for their actions. The situational perspective is also another perspective that they show very well. This is proven through their practice of having employees to offer their thoughts on how to improve.

After working in many different parts of the food industry I feel that there should be an ethical code that all workers should follow, from waitress to fast food. Not only would that call for more satisfied customers, but it would lead to more satisfied employees as well. This code of ethics would be follow other codes of ethics seen in food industry companies. For example, the Institute of Food Technologies or IFT, has a fantastic code of ethics for its employees. Their top ethical standard and one I would also make of top importance is “perform your duties with objectivity, due diligence, and professional care” (IFT, n.d.).

Three other ethical standards I would have is perform all duties with care and cleanliness, treat all coworkers with respect and dignity, and strive to give the best experience as well as quality product. The reason for these four standards in particular is because while working in the food industry I have noticed that these are the areas that need the most improvement. Many food industry places lack in these areas of business. Though many strive to keep on track with these standards many fall short because of big business and plainly just falling behind. Applying these four ethical standards into the food industry will lead to great improvements. These improvements would not be limited to more satisfaction from customers but overall more satisfaction from employees.

Unlike USAA’s unique training methods this training for these particular ethical standards would be very simple. First, the employee’s would be put into small groups and then asked the question, what was their worst food experience? After that they would be followed with another question, what was their best food experience? After they have answered the two questions they would be invited to share their stores with the group. Through the sharing process they would be encourage to come up with some ideas on how to improve the bad experience, what would they themselves have done differently? Through this sharing process hopefully the workers would be able to see the effect they have in the position as a food industry worker to have an impact on customer’s opinions and experiences.

References

Fleurke, X. (2009, January). Menu. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.corporate-ethics.org/walking-a-mile-in-the-shoes-of-your-customer/

McGregor, J. (2005, October 01). Employee Innovator: USAA. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/53782/employee-innovator-usaa

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

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

U. (n.d.). Professional Code of Ethics. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.ift.org/certification/forcandidates/code-of-ethics.aspx

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