What makes a leader: Key lessons brands can learn from Santam

2019-10-25 10:41
Supplied Santam

Supplied Santam

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For over 100 years, Santam has been in the business of protecting South Africa’s most important assets and valuables. The brands new ‘Say I’ campaign which encourages South Africans to think about the value of insurance and to ‘say I’ to protecting what they’ve accumulated, is testiment to the brands client centric approach.

The campaign creative cleverly uses the traditional English affirmation expression - “Say Aye” or “Say I” – meaning “Yes” to confirm certain questions posed and in essence saying YES to what the Santam brand stands for. A strong objective of the campaign was to make all South Africans feel valued and heard and to feel the satisfaction and ownership that comes with knowing you’re making decisions that count.

Although Santam did not become the leader it is overnight, its success offers a lot of insight to businesses and individuals looking to build a solid and successful brand, and here is why:

Humble beginnings

It all started when seven visionary individuals met at the Royal Hotel in Cape Town to plot the founding of an insurance company. Even though it was a tumultuous time, the middle of the First World War, these individuals had the foresight to see beyond all that was wrong. Through grit and a lot of hard work, they laid the foundations for what has today become Santam: South Africa’s largest short-term insurer with a market share more than 22% and one million clients

Many pioneering initiatives in their history

Santam has always been at the cutting edge of the general insurance industry, notching up several firsts over the years – such as being the first short-term insurer in 1957 to use an electronic computer system. In 1964, in collaboration with two British partners, they launched South Africa’s first aviation insurance company. They set the trend for the industry when in 1974 they were the first to launch a personal multiplex policy that combined seven types of policies into a single package.

They were the first in the short-term industry to actively promote green energy. In 1981 they became the first insurer to introduce the capturing of claims documents on microfilm – a major innovation at the time. In 2006, Santam was the first to introduce the country’s first mobile emergency claims processing unit.

Being there when disaster struck

Santam has always prided themselves on being there for its clients – particularly when disaster has struck. Just four days after the devastating 1981 Laingsburg flood, Santam’s people were there to assist those affected – writing 74 cheques to the value of R700 000. When a fire broke out on Table Mountain in 2006, they looked beyond the 700 hectares of land that was burnt and focused on the lives behind it. In 2017, nearly 800 homes were flooded in the massive storm that swept across the Cape. Informal settlement residents were worst affected and 135 schools were damaged. Durban and Gauteng were also battered by storms, resulting in Santam paying out claims of R1,1 billion.

In the same year, fires swept across Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, killing seven people, destroying at least 1 000 homes and causing more than 10 000 people to be evacuated from their homes at night. Santam paid out more than R800 million in claims.

Their biggest asset is their people

Indeed, Santam have come a long way. Today, the brand is the best and biggest. More importantly, it is not just the company that says so. Over the years they have won accolades and awards that attest to this. These include successive South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) ratings as South Africa’s top insurer, Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa awards for personal, commercial and corporate short-term insurer of the year and certification as the ‘Best Company to Work For’.

For over 100 years, they’ve looked beyond the facts in front of them and thought about the lives that lie behind them. It’s this thinking that differentiated them from their competitors back then and continues to separate them now. When things go wrong, their clients know they’re with an insurer that makes them right.

And they have spread their wings. Their company is not only active in South Africa but has investments and insurance interests in over 33 other countries, including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Morocco, India and Malaysia. They also hold strategic investments in various companies in the insurance industry, and have two wholly owned subsidiaries, namely MiWay and Centriq. They have also partnered with underwriting managers to deliver specialist and niche insurance solutions.

In over 100 years, they have not only been just about business, but also displayed a commitment to creating a stable and prosperous society through enterprising CSI initiatives and staff volunteerism projects. The company has pioneered the Partnership for Risk and Resilience, which currently supports 45 municipalities with initiatives to better respond to the danger of fires and floods. Santam has, to date, also invested R50 million with the ASISA Enterprise and Supplier Development Fund to assist with the incubation and growth of SMME’s servicing the insurance industry.

To get them where they are today was a culmination of the passion and commitment to service excellence of their 6000 staff and network of over 3000 intermediaries. As a link to their clients, their intermediaries remain the cornerstone of our business.

Unrivalled success

While in the last century others have come and gone, Santam continues to look for reasons to settle claims, rather than not to. They want their clients to know that when things go wrong in your business, at home or on the road that you’re with the insurer that makes it right. This is the Santam way. Good and proper then. Good and proper now. Good and proper always.

This post is sponsored and supplied by Santam. 

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