I've worked at the sharp end of our industry for more than 30 years now and seen firsthand how we help to put peoples' lives and businesses back together following serious incidents such as a storm, flood or fire. However, the public perception of the service we provide still does not reflect the fantastic job that we do.
The advent of increased regulation and the Financial Conduct Authority's thematic reviews have certainly helped us show that we listen and react to customer feedback. And the use of service-level agreements and net promoter scores provide evidence of the strides that have been made.
Still, the comments that we hear in the pub do not reflect what we see in the face of a customer when we hand over the keys to their rebuilt home following serious damage, or the relief of the finance director with a destroyed production facility who without the physical and financial support of insurers would be facing bankruptcy.
My experience of dealing with two other service industries recently brought into focus for me the high level of service that we provide - and that while we are not perfect and must continue to improve, we do need to have greater pride in what we do and be prepared to shout about it rather than merely react to negative aspects.
In both incidents, tradesmen were supposed to come to my house to do repairs. No time could be given, only a day. And neither turned up on the day in question - despite being chased. One failed to turn up at all, meaning that we had to appoint an alternative company to take the defective item away. We are yet to hear when or even if it will come back. No apology was given by any of the companies involved and my wife tells me that she was made to feel that they were doing her a favour and she should be grateful for their (lack of) attention.
No insurer would accept a loss adjuster failing to contact a policyholder within an hour to agree a specific appointment within agreed timescales. We would rightly be expected to pay compensation if we failed to keep a customer fully informed. Yet still the public buys insurance on lowest price rather than best value.
The Chartered Insurance Institute is making great efforts to ensure that insurance is seen as a profession and the hard work by the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters to liaise with all relevant parties including the press and politicians has without doubt improved our reputation and reduced the negative ‘noise'.
We still have some way to travel before our expertise is properly appreciated. The CII's new CEO Sian Fisher has recently instigated a strategic review and we can only hope that, while we must continue to listen to our customers and improve the products and services that we provide, greater emphasis will be placed on ensuring that what we do, day in day out, is recognised and appreciated more by the general public.
Rant over - now, does anyone know of a contractor that will actually turn up to repair my garage doors?
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