Empowerment in the consumer service sector: from the perspective of management and frontline personnel in the insurance industry

The aim of this study was to gain better understanding of empowerment in the consumer service sector by comparing the perspective of mangers and frontline personnel. Empowerment can be described as giving discretion to frontline personnel to meet the needs of customers creatively. The research questions concerned investigating the level of empowerment, the beneficial level of empowerment and the outcome of empowerment in a consumer service company. In order to gain insight into these areas a case study was done in the insurance company Länsförsäkringar Norrbotten. The manager for the private customers department and three employees was interviewed regarding the study. We found that the studied department at Länsförsäkringar Norrbotten has a low level of empowerment and that this is appropriate for their business. The possibility for increased empowerment did however exist but the simple products concerning insurances for tangibles and low customer needs made any further implementations unnecessary. The recommendation for the insurance industry is to follow Länsförsäkringar Norrbottens way of implementing empowerment with strict rules for their employees to decrease their empowerment. Unless there are possibilities to widen the departments, giving employees additional tasks besides insuring tangibles, the model used in Länsförsäkringar Norrbotten is beneficial. We can recommend further studies concerning employee behavior, also a more integrated model for comparing all the three areas of empowerment should be the concern for further research in order to provide a more practical tool for studying empowerment.

Author: Fjallborg, Peter; Heckscher, Patrik

Source: Luleå University of Technology

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