Readers Digest NZ Family

Southern Cross wins dual Gold for outstanding customer service

Monday , 22 November 2021 by Alaina McGregor

Southern Cross’ shared commitment to strengthening customer connections in the wake of the pandemic has resulted in its health insurance and travel insurance businesses both winning gold in their respective categories in the Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards 2022.

The awards, voted on by the public, are run every year to determine which New Zealand organisations have delivered the most outstanding customer service. Consumers rate organisations on personalisation, understanding, simplicity and satisfaction.

This is the fifth consecutive gold for Southern Cross Health Insurance (SCHI) and the third in a row for Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI). Both organisations share the Southern Cross brand, and are businesses united by a not-for-profit ethos helping New Zealanders to look after their health and wellbeing.

The Southern Cross businesses worked hard to maintain this award-winning customer service by providing ongoing support to customers during a time of increased uncertainty due to COVID-19, when accessing healthcare and travel plans were significantly impacted. It also delivered improvements and innovations based on the changing needs of customers.

SCHI initiated hardship packages to support members facing challenges due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. It also launched, in partnership with ProCare, virtual health consultation service CareHQ, and introduced a new health insurance policy upgrade option – Cancer Cover Plus. SCHI’s membership is now the highest in 14 years, sitting at almost 893,000.

Despite international travel being severely curtailed, SCTI was able to provide cover to customers taking advantage of bubble travel to Australia and the Cook Islands, and to 15,0001 people who went on holiday around New Zealand.

At the same time, the business has continued to evolve, in preparation for a post-COVID-19 rebound in tourism and subsequent increase in travel bookings. In what is believed to be a first for New Zealand, SCTI launched new pregnancy cover to cover the cost of pre-term babies born overseas, and in an award-winning* move to make things simpler for customers, the business rewrote some of its policies in plain language to make them easier to understand.

SCTI also made further improvements to digitise its business and give customers more ways to access timely information through the launch of a digital assistant, a ‘kea’ named Scout.

Southern Cross group Chairman Greg Gent said the double Gold win, and the Silver awarded to the pet insurance business, belongs to everyone in the organisation who has consistently gone the extra mile to support customers, particularly during what has been a challenging and uncertain year.

“I’m thrilled that our ongoing commitment to delivering exceptional customer service continues to positively impact the experience New Zealanders have with Southern Cross,” said Gent.

Louise Waterson, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, said the past 12 months have shown that businesses with excellent customer service records are stronger and better able to weather the storm of market challenges.

“Winning this award proves that a business is resilient and always ready to service customers, even during the toughest times. Southern Cross understands that a successful business not only needs innovative products and energetic staff but, crucially, it needs satisfied customers.

“New Zealanders recognise that an organisation’s attention to strengthening its service by responding to customer insights has made it an industry leader. Congratulations on winning Gold in the 2022 Quality Service Awards – it’s a great achievement,” said Waterson.

*SCTI won the Best Plain English Legal Document category at the Plain English Awards 2021.


1Data period: 28 August 2020 - 1 August 2021