Customer satisfaction with insurance industry contact centers has improved for the second straight year, a consulting firm says.

CFI Group USA L.L.C., Ann Arbor, Mich., which does business as the Claes Fornell International Group, says the insurance industry’s Contact Center Satisfaction Index score has increased to 79 out of 100, from 74 a year ago.

Insurance industry customer service representatives received a score of 86 on the satisfaction index, and that is the highest score achieved by reps in any of the private industries measured, CFI says.

CFI has calculated the satisfaction scores using results from an Internet-based survey of about 2,200 people.

The larger insurance companies have achieved almost perfect customer service rep satisfaction scores, CFI says.

The insurance industry is “doing a lot of things right,” says CFI Chief Executive Sheri Teodoru. “They’re not off-shoring…. They’re resolving a lot of problems on the first call.”

The perceived level of offshore contact centers in the insurance industry registers at only 2%, 9% below the private industry average, according to CFI.

About 72% of callers have their problems resolved on the first call, compared with an average of 63% for all private industries.

About 8% of callers said their insurance-related problems were never resolved, and that matches the industry average, CFI says.

Teoduru says the insurance industry is successful in first-call resolution partially because of the subject matter of its problems, but also because of the people answering the phones.

“The problems might be easier,” Teodoru says. “While some are simple, some definitely are not. For the most part, the insurance industry is the only place where the person answering is the first agent to pick up the phone.”

About 76% of customers said they will recommend their insurance agency to others, a 5 percentage point improvement from last year. Only 6% said they will consider defecting, CFI says.

Teoduru credits the overall improvement in customer service satisfaction, both in the insurance industry and in other industries, to the weakened economy.

“The economy was beneficial for the contact center,” Teodoru says. “Applicants that applied were much more qualified than before.”

An economic upturn could mean lower satisfaction scores in the future, Teodoru says.

“If the economy improves, CSR may go down,” Teodoru says. “Applicants working jobs that they are overqualified for may jump ship.”