In a recent conversation I was told that a core role of an insurer is to ‘settle claims’ and so this function should never be outsourced for fear of losing control of customers. Whatever the merits of outsourcing I wonder if we can really say that a core role of an insurer is to ‘settle claims’?
In the world of insurance claims why do we insist on naming our primary customer facing function as being denominated as a ‘First Notification of Loss’ (FNOL)?
The FNOL centre has become the touchpoint for all manner of customer interactions and been variously offshored, onshored, and right-shored to the point where having a UK call centre is now seen as a positive point of differentiation. However, no matter the physical location, you can be sure that the sentiment is the same – the dreaded phone call, email or claims form that denotes a ‘loss’.
In a world where we rightly condemn the despised banker’s bonus system and yet another off-shore scandal rears its head, this time at at HSBC in Switzerland, we continue to recruit sales people, senior management and even (dare I say it) insurance claims handlers on exactly the same basis. If not a straightforward bonus environment then we impose financial and performance targets that have exactly the same effect – distorting employee behaviours to achieve the imposed target instead of focusing on the underlying reasons for seeking to direct attitudes and activities.
Rather like email, the smart phone, and the endless search for ‘big data’, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become an institutionalised instrument of management without which we apparently cannot run our businesses. Searching for the holy grail of a high NPS return has become the in-house mantra for many organisations – especially those who seek to proclaim their customer-facing focus – and in the world of claims and insurance it is a key area of measurement and benchmarking.
But is this the best approach to building an organisation that is truly delivering the service that its customers really want?
Watching a recent video from the Harvard Business Review stable I was reminded that industry ‘standard’ practices of operations, management, marketing and every other aspect of business management have only reached such universal acceptance by themselves having replaced previous ‘standard’ practices. However, it is not necessarily the case that the changes and new practices implicit in this development cycle are still valid today. The motivations that drove the original changes may no longer exist, be less relevant, or simply that society and customers have moved on in their desires.