Each year I share results from Northeast Delta Dental, a dental benefits company with more than 810,000 subscribers throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Northeast Delta Dental has 189 employees and is led by President & CEO, Tom Raffio. For 26 years, Raffio has pursued the customer service strategy. Most firms become bored with customer service after a few years, move on to another strategy, and give up the market share and market dominance they had achieved.
In 1990, while at Delta Dental Plan of Massachusetts, Raffio identified, through research and focus groups with companies who select dental insurance companies, the most critical things companies want from an insurance provider. In 1996, Raffio became President & CEO of Northeast Delta Dental and immediately implemented a Service Guarantee focused on these critical areas.
With the Guarantee Of Service ExcellenceSM program, Northeast Delta Dental has three types of customers and guarantees seven major areas of service. These customers include participating dentists, organizations that select Northeast Delta Dental as their dental benefits provider, and the employee who receives the insurance.
You can view Northeast Delta Dental’s Service Guarantee and their results on my web site.
The company that makes the buying decision wants assurance that everything will go smoothly and Northeast Delta Dental identifies smooth implementation as their first Service Guarantee. The fifth guarantee promises the employer group accurate and quick turnaround of identification cards to each employee within 15 calendar days. For example, following this guarantee, if a group of 300 employees did not receive their identification cards within 15 calendar days, Northeast Delta Dental would be required to reimburse the employee group $7,500 ($25.00 per employee). I know of no other company in the world that has the guts to back up their claims with real money.
In 2015, Northeast Delta Dental, had 39 requests totaling $2,572.31. They were not required to refund any groups for their fifth guarantee. They had four areas for individual performance and one request totaling $50. Some of you might say this is low risk. If that is true why have NO other insurance companies in the world copied them? Especially true in their territory of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. For those watching the U.S. Presidential race, New Hampshire is the second state to vote for the Presidential candidate of their choice.
Total revenue last year was $340,828,000. Profit was $8,866,900; however, Northeast Delta Dental re-invested more than $3 million in the communities they serve through supporting various nonprofit organizations. In 2015, Northeast Delta Dental had 2,276 employee training hours which amounts to12.9 hours per full-time employee and they spent $809.88 on training per employee, which is 1.2% of their payroll. How much time and money do you spend each year per employee developing them?
Northeast Delta Dental’s market share is 52% in New Hampshire, 42% in Maine and 55% in Vermont. Wow. Every insurance company in the world would love to have market share like this. No competitor has ever copied their Service Guarantee. Most are looking for ways to work with Northeast Delta Dental. A customer service strategy is the only weapon you can use with competitors that will dramatically increase market share. Customer service strategies can rarely be duplicated and implementing one will earn you a five to ten year lead-time over your competitors.
When a company makes the momentous discovery that customers are really people and when they give customer service at least as much power and influence over decisions as they give financial considerations, they are well on the road to achieving a competitive advantage and even market dominance….just like Northeast Delta Dental did….26 years ago. “Bravo”.
“The purpose of business is to create and to keep customers”.—Peter Drucker, Management Consultant
Tam Raffio published a book, There are No Do-Overs. An awesome book available on Amazon
In my book Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service I have been talking about Tom Raffio since 1980.