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Blog: You really need to listen before walking the walk


Given consumers less that flattering view of business, Marcus Taylor, director of claims, Minster Law, warns the insurance sector needs to make sure it listens to the public before enforcing the new online claims journey post April 2020.

Jamie Marchant, a regular commentator on industry issues, posted a tweet at the beginning of December: Want to treat customers fairly? First listen, really listen. And when you understand, ‘walk the walk’, not just ‘talk the talk’.”

He was drawing attention to a story in The Times by Baroness Patience Wheatcroft, which argued that a perceived lack of fairness has undermined people’s views of business. She said: “Companies are better at broadcasting than listening. Broadening their networks and listening to a wider range of voices would alert them if customers thought they were not well treated.”

This is good advice for the claims industry [and the government] as it grapples with the onset of an online claims journey in April 2020, following the reforms to personal injury. 

The Ministry of Justice has the unenviable task of implementing a portal to manage minor road traffic accident claims, responding to the government’s determination to reduce the cost of such claims by removing lawyers from the process.

An online claims journey sounds great, but listening to customers tells us that while 50% are happy to go wholly online, 45% prefer to deal with a human being. That’s a hard circle to square.

38% said the claims process could be improved with input from both technology and human beings. Minster Law has tested this mix in its own online pilot, which has been running for twelve months, and we have found that customers overwhelmingly prefer to know that they can call on an expert claims handler if they need to.

But the infrastructure to deliver that UK-wide is daunting. An average claim includes between six-nine calls between customer and claimant firm. Currently there are more than 600,000 claims registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit each year.

Even if, in a post-reform world, the number of minor RTA claims drops to 400,000 a year, my rough calculation means that equates to between 2.4 to 3.6 million telephone calls just from customers.

The MoJ has promised that the portal will be stress tested to make sure it is fit for purpose, and this is to be welcomed, as it pre-supposes that the final product will be better than the current system.

As Baroness Wheatcroft makes clear, business has been under scrutiny for its failure to listen to customers. The claims sector now has an historic chance to work together and make sure the portal really does put customers first.

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