Would you take business advice from your granny?

Kelly Morris shares her unique approach to creating a customer-centric culture

"Kelly MorrisWhere do I get my inspiration from? You might be surprised to hear that my drive for great customer service actually comes from my Grandma, who’s had a massive influence on how the claims department at Covéa Insurance looks today!

When I was given the opportunity to build a claims department from scratch, my initial thoughts were – “wow this is so exciting, something I can really put my stamp on ... but then the excitement turned to, wow this is huge, what if it doesn’t work?” I had all these ideas on how it would look and they were different from the norm, but I was prepared to take a risk because I wanted us to stand out from the crowd. My main objective was to lead the market in providing a great service and genuinely be there to support our customers if the worst happens.

We’ve all been there, you want to speak to someone to get help, but you’re just signposted to do everything online, or, you do manage to speak to an actual person and are promised a call back to resolve your problem and it never happens, or you end up on hold pressing through a myriad of options before you get to speak to a human being – it’s so frustrating! My Grandma says it as it is, and when I was designing the process for our claims department, I took counsel from her at every stage where the customer would be involved - this worked out well (I still refer back to her now when we make any changes to our processes).

So what does a customer want? They want to feel like a person, not a number, put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel?  They don’t want to project manage their own claim (would you if you had no idea of how insurance works?) they trust us to take complete care of their claim, after all, we’re the experts, they want one point of contact, someone they can talk to throughout and they want a call with a meaningful update on the progress of their claim, not someone asking them to give an update, we should know exactly what stage it’s at and what happens next. Most of all they want us to keep our promises.  

Customers need choice, it’s not one size fits all and we must avoid sending them down a route that isn’t suitable for their needs. The digital age brings with it some great opportunities, but we need to remember that we are dealing with people, not numbers and we shouldn’t sacrifice our empathy for speed.

When we went through the initial recruitment for our Home Claims team, we wanted to bring people in who would be excited about the journey we were about to go on and want to go that extra mile to make us stand out as an insurer that really cares about their customers, we focused on the right people based on their qualities and attributes not merely the experience on their CV.

We’ve been able to create a real customer-centric culture, with the challenge now to maintain that.

We always need to be ready to go the extra mile and I’ve made sure that my team know that if they spot any way to make the customer’s experience stand out, they can go for it.  Recently one of my team handled a claim for an elderly lady who lost everything in a serious house fire.  As our customer was vulnerable, her next door neighbour dealt with the claim for her. As time went on we soon realised that the neighbour was also going through a terrible time coping with a serious illness within her own family. Our employee managing the claim approached our CEO who agreed to donate a sum to help them to their fundraising target of 60k for brain tumour research.

For me, it shows how by asking our people to treat every claim as they would their own grandmother’s, it translates into an empathetic team of customer-centric handlers, dedicated to providing the personal touch for customers. This is palpable in the letter of thanks received:

I don't know what to say! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I didn't for one moment expect that. That is so incredibly kind and generous. I didn't send the link for that reason I promise. I just thought you might be interested as I have spoken to you over the past year and you have known some of my own ups and downs as well as A. To take him to over £60k is incredible I didn't think he would ever get to that magical figure. 

Sometimes life connects you with people who you would normally never come into contact with.  You have been wonderful and have kept me sane by allowing me to express my frustrations. 

None of us know what is around the corner (thank goodness) and through all of this I have learned just how precious life and family is. There are some wonderful people in this world and I have met many since A has become ill. 

You have all been amazing and B Is so lucky to be back into a house that is so much improved on what she had. Hopefully she will appreciate it one day. 

Thank you for your kindness and help throughout all of this. 

I really can't thank you enough for the donation and the care you have shown me as well as A. I think you a star! 

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks to all involved”

When it comes to customer service, as my Grandma says; “People might forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Feature originally appeared on Institute of Customer Service website

 

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Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance Plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France and served 11.5 million policyholders, generating over 16.4 billion Euros in premiums in 2016.  

Covéa Insurance handles the insurance needs of over 1.3 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, designed to meet the needs of most individuals and businesses. Employing over 1500 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and featuring in the 2015 and 2016 Sunday Times Top 100 Mid-sized Best Companies to Work For. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In January 2016, Sterling Insurance Company Limited became a fully integrated part of Covea Insurance Plc, following a Part VII transfer under the Financial Services and Markets Act. Sterling Insurance was voted No. 1 in the Commercial and Personal Lines 2015 Insurance Times Broker Service Survey and Covéa Insurance was awarded the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year Award at the 2016 British Insurance Awards.

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