Funeral service and insurance group AVBOB is deeply rooted in the communities it serves and has been for more than 100 years. This has helped it to build an astute agility to handle the ever-growing and evolving business environment in which it operates.
According to AVBOB’s CEO, Carl van der Riet, AVBOB is very proud of the tradition and history that has brought the mutual assurance society to where it is today. “But we are very cognisant of the fact that the legacy in that history will only take us so far. So, it takes an agile mindset by each single person in AVBOB’s employment; a mindset that needs to be continuously refreshed. Once the mindset is right, the rest will follow for our customers. And even though we conduct many funerals every month, for each customer the funeral we do for them is the only funeral that they will be conducting. This means every funeral must be special. We must treat it as though it were the only event in our corporate life.”
Featuring on Besigheid wat saak maak (Business that matters), the new TV business breakfast show on VIA (DStv channel 147) this past Saturday, Van der Riet says that although the Group has been in the funeral business since 1918, it is only as good as the last interaction the Group has had with customers, something they have to be cognisant of all the time.
AVBOB funeral representatives are amazing people with high EQs
Van der Riet is full of praise for the AVBOB people, especially those in funeral services, who tirelessly serve their communities. “Funeral service is such a misunderstood business, but once you actually get to understand the operations, you realise that we provide people with healing, with counselling, with empathy and comfort. Our funeral representatives are absolutely amazing people. They have high EQs and can deal with complex family dynamics, including trauma and loss and as such rise above their own circumstances to help families heal and recover.”
He says this is incredibly powerful and desperately needed in South Africa. “We are a country that is scared, broken and traumatised in many ways and this healing event that AVBOB’s funeral service personnel are able to facilitate is incredibly valuable and underestimated by and large. This explains why we do what we do.”
AVBOB puts its people first
Commenting on the Group’s experience in supporting its personnel, Van der Riet says they always put their people first, both from a physical and an emotional perspective. “It is essential to remain close to our people, our personnel, with constant clear-cut communication and providing the emotional support that they need. In AVBOB we firmly believe that we are a family and the values of family endure. So, we have learnt to stay close to family.”
He believes that AVBOB’s uniqueness sets it apart from others that operate in the same space and that it is the platform for the Group’s success going forward. “For one, we are a mutual organisation; the only mutual funeral insurance group in the country which means that we do not have any shareholders. We only have our members who have policies with us. Hence, everything we do is shaped by that culture, by that philosophy of doing what is right for the interests of the members.”
Also, for AVBOB it goes much further than the actual insurance claim. It involves engaging with the family, conducting the funeral, offering customers comfort, and helping them through a time of immense trauma. “So, there is a far more empathetic and engaged approach which I think is unique in the country. Moreover, we have a large footprint, which means we can offer that special support across the country through any one of our numerous branches.”
AVBOB’s product innovation led and informed by needs of customers
As for new product offerings, Van der Riet says as far as their insurance business is concerned, they are not a product-push company and that they are very much led and informed by the needs and the requirements of customers. “Our current products meet the needs of our customers really well. We know our customers pretty well by now.”
AVBOB’s focus on product innovation ensures that the product is more accessible and provides a service to its customer in a way and channel that they feel most comfortable with. “In funeral services there is such a wide variety of customs and traditional practices that we follow and that our customers require. So as things stand, we have adapted significantly because of the COVID-19 restrictions based on what we can and cannot do and we had to explain that to our customers and take them through the process. As things evolve, we will move with those practices.”
AVBOB recently showed its prowess by being the first on the continent to introduce Aquamation, a flameless cremation solution, to South Africa’s shores. “This is just one of the examples of innovation that we have introduced, which we will be rolling out further as we move forward.”
To watch this past Saturday’s interview with Van der Riet, click here: https://youtu.be/aP74ydXkqBY
AVBOB can be contacted for all customer enquiries and needs via its national call centre which operates 24/7. Clients should call 0861 28 26 21. Standard call rates apply.