Diary of an Insurer: Avantia’s Jess Woodhouse

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Jess Woodhouse, chief operating officer at Avantia Group’s specialist home insurance provider Homeprotect, is up with the lark (or her children), ready to manage her team and discover new technology.

Jess Woodhouse

Monday 

And just like that, after a busy weekend with my husband, three and four-year-old, it’s Monday again. 

My four-year-old is my alarm clock, waking up without fail about 5am every morning. Mornings are always chaotic in our house, but after some protracted conversations about everything from which socks to wear, to who gets in the car first, the children are successfully dropped at nursery and then the working day starts. 

Mondays are about setting up for the week ahead, reviewing customer feedback and operational performance from the prior week before checking in with my team, our outsource partner and agreeing immediate priorities. 

There’s been a lot of flooding recently and as Homeprotect provides insurance for non-standard properties or circumstances (including those at risk of flooding), we have had an influx of enquires from customers and we need to ensure they are dealt with in the correct way.  

Strategy and operations sessions with our contact centre partner fill the rest of my day. Ours is not a traditional outsourcing dynamic. It’s a partnership and they are an extension of our own team. Today’s sessions are all about performance: we go over feedback from customers and discuss ways to improve. 

Tuesday 

Sheffield town hall

Today I’m travelling from my home in Stockport near Manchester to Sheffield, but the job doesn’t set my morning routine, the children do. 

So, we’re all up together at around 5am again, except this morning the eldest wants to watch Spider-Man and practise his Spidey moves. It’s the usual chaotic routine, but this time with a designated train time thrown in.

I’m on my way to Sheffield, which is not only where our outsource provider is based, but also today’s location of a best practice visit at a big bank to share knowledge and ideas with other industry professionals on managing complex customer service interactions. 

Straight away I’m thinking about how this will help us to develop our own customer service, and what we could apply to our transformation project. 

After lunch, I head back to our Sheffield office. As part of my role, I also oversee our change and transformation team – we cover transformation across customer services as well as supporting our assurance and claims functions. 

Right now, our priority is improving our ways of working. We’ve gathered some recommendations and it’s an ongoing piece of work to put them into practice.

Later in the day, I catch up with my direct reports, which I really enjoy as it’s a great opportunity to have productive conversations on their progress and see where they might need my support with their own presentations and proposals.  

Wednesday 

jess woodhouse for diary facetiming kids

Another busy morning. Today I’m heading to London. I have two important morning meetings: one with the senior leadership team, then a one-on-one with our CEO to discuss our customer service performance. 

We’ve completely transformed our customer service operation over the last 18 months, but we are constantly working on ways to keep improving results for customers and the team.  

In the afternoon, I head to an event to understand how generative artificial intelligence is being utilised across the industry, including in insurance. 

What’s interesting to me are the ways in which it’s being applied in a customer service context. At Homeprotect we have the freedom to develop our own in-house technology, which allows us to find and build solutions to meet the specific needs of our customers, so the event is a great opportunity to see what’s out there and to get new ideas.

My day is followed by an overnight stay in London, ahead of our monthly board meeting tomorrow, so I FaceTime my children to say goodnight as my husband gets them ready for bed. 

I get through some emails, as after being out at events for the last couple of days there is a bit to catch-up on.

Thursday 

meeting

I head into the New Malden office for a board meeting, where we look at our financial performance and discuss some developments to our employee benefits. 

Our team has grown a lot over the last couple of years and we have been voted a ‘Great Place to Work’ by our employees for four years in a row, but it’s always good to review the feedback we get from our people to look at the ways we can make Homeprotect an even better place to work.  

I leave the office in good time so I can make it back for bath and bedtime stories.

Friday 

Swimming pool of condo buildings re-opening after COVID-19 confinement. Swimmer woman doing crawl in public pool banner panoramic.
Maridav

I’m working from home today, starting with a deep dive into our customer satisfaction scores and looking for opportunities to improve customers’ experience. Then it’s straight into a meeting with our transformation team.  

After lunch, I start working on a mentoring plan. I’m taking on a few mentees soon and I want to be well prepared. I then work on proposals for new ways of working to share with our capacity provider.

I embrace flexible working, which for me means being around for as many nursery pick-ups and drop-offs as possible, and I take the children to their weekly swimming lesson late afternoon every Friday. 

Work-life balance is central to our culture, and I can genuinely say that Homeprotect enables me to have a career I love, while supporting me as a working parent. 

And finally, we make it to Friday evening, time to relax following a busy week and look forward to the weekend ahead.

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