Driven by a deep desire to help its members, Univé has delivered on its brand promise throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Ranked 8th in this year's Customer Experience Excellence research, Univé was voted top insurance brand in the Netherlands and the second Financial Services brand. Univé not only improved their score across all of The Six Pillars this year, they have also shown an increase in employee satisfaction. A good reason to have a closer look at how Univé is able to achieve such great results in the face of significant disruption.

Helping each other – in good times and bad

"Univé is a cooperative. That means we don't have a profit motive; our focus is on solidarity, being there for our members when it matters. We have a diverse member base, but they all recognise and value our philosophy. Whilst the older generation consciously chooses to be part of our cooperative, younger families tend to relate to the cooperative values of solidarity and purpose. Our purpose is clear:

We are Univé. We are our members, and we make sure we help each other.

For us, being a cooperative also means being close to our members. And we make great use of our local outlets, our contact centre and regular local events to help achieve that. So when COVID-19 hit the Netherlands and we were forced to close our outlets and cancel the events, we lost our key channels for staying close to our customers.

But our colleagues quickly took on the challenge with innovation, creativity and passion. Indeed, what happened was very touching: throughout the Netherlands, our colleagues started launching different initiatives, each based on local community needs. In some regions we started proactively calling our members to ask them if we could help with anything. In other regions, employees made their Univé company cars available for healthcare workers so they could more easily get to work without having to use public transport.

Our best ideas were quickly leveraged across the country. A local team launched a weekly digital magazine with inspirational and uplifting stories including tips and tricks to stay healthy. We quickly embraced this initiative and started to distribute this to all of our members to show them we were – and still are – in this together.

And of course, our people go the extra mile every day. You shouldn't be surprised to find a Univé colleague standing 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with you as you face a personal disaster. Even as the fire brigade still works to save your house, no matter what time of the day, we stand with our members when it matters.

Preventing risks to protect members We strongly believe in preventing risks and limiting the consequences of damage to our members. But this is not about reducing claims or cost savings; what a lot of people don't realise is that the consequences of an event can reach much further than the initial damage. It can have a profound impact on the lives of our members.

For example, if your washing machine causes water damage, you may need your floor replaced and walls repainted. Yet the burden of living in a house 'under construction' can often cause a lot more disruption in the household than the flooding itself. That is why we are extremely keen to prevent things like that happening in the first place.

We ask our innovation group to really put themselves in our members' seat and consider what is really important to them. One of the outcomes is an initiative we call 'Carefree life'. It includes innovative tools like chimney sensors that are able to detect when a chimney must be swept to prevent a fire, and a roof gutter service to prevent leakage. All of these initiatives have the same goal: to be there for each other and to bring sustainable security.

Being there for our employees

"Our philosophy of helping each other extends to our employees; the care we show for our members also applies to our colleagues. In fact, our Univé values are embodied by our employees and often serve as a self-selection mechanism for new hires. It is about the Univé mentality; we want our colleagues to really take their time to focus on members. We urge them to put themselves in the members seat, rather than asking them focus on hard KPIs.

Simply put, we prioritise the right mentality over KPI steering. We don't believe, for example, in focusing on things like how long it takes an employee to handle a service call.

Creating certainty for both members and employees is very important to us. We establish this by providing our employees with confidence and opportunities to develop themselves and achieve personal growth in a safe environment. In some cases, this leads to employees getting jobs where – on paper – they might not have all the right prior experience but – in reality – they have shown their potential and ability to grow in their role. It is great to see them really shine.

As a management team we always aim to be close to our colleagues. A challenge during COVID-19. But, to our surprise, we have actually become even closer; our improved employee satisfaction scores demonstrate that fact. Through weekly vlogs, clear efforts to support those with challenging home situations, continuous dialogue and gifts of appreciation, we have continued to engage our people. And I am confident we will keep the learnings when we get back in the office".

Looking for the future

"Over the coming years, we will continue to improve our regional approach and focus on helping each other. We will strive to continue to provide our members with innovative solutions and to grow our younger member base.

Ultimately, we are always looking for ways to bring the cooperative back to its foundation of solidarity and true membership. When consumers are looking for security, we want them to know that Univé will take care of everything."

Ron Bavelaar – CEO