April 2013: Customer Service Email Inquiries

This report looks at the public and private customer service email inquiry capabilities offered exclusively on Annuity Monitor firms’ websites. The email inquiries of 15 Annuity Monitor firms were analyzed on the following key criteria:

  • Accessibility of the public and private website customer service email inquiry forms.
  • Quality and design of the public and the private email forms.
  • How well and how quickly it took to respond to the customer service email inquiries.

Overall, Annuity Monitor firms do a subpar job of providing email customer service to both prospective investors and current clients. Only two firms thoroughly answered all questions posed to the firm from both a client and prospective investor perspective. Largely due to this, only two firms covered in this report received a grade within the A range.
 
The prospective investor email inquiries submitted to the firms asked about the minimum initial investment amount and fee structures of a particular annuity sold by each respective firm. Of the 15 firms covered in this report, 14 provided non-clients with the ability to submit an email inquiry to the firm, three of which sufficiently answered both questions within the inquiry. The response times, however, were generally good, as 75% of firms responded within 12 business hours. The client email inquiries asked firms how to update the online account username and document delivery preferences online. Fourteen firms provided a response of some kind to the client inquiry, ten of which sufficiently answered all questions posed.
 
The email inquiry submission process and inquiry form accessibility were bright spots for the Annuity Monitor firms. Every firm except one provides an email form built into the site that is easily accessible from the respective public and private homepages. The customer service forms were straightforward for the most part, but quantity of inputs varied greatly. Additionally, a shade over half of all email forms provide confirmation emails upon inquiry submission.
 
Additional key findings include:

  • 33% of prospective investor email inquiries responded to by a financial professional.
  • Five firms enable prospective investors to respond directly to email inquiry responses.
  • Three firms allow clients to attach files to client email inquiry.
  • Every firm provides access to public and private site email forms from Contact Us/Customer Service page.