The Society of Claims Professionals’ (SOCP) guide has been produced in collaboration with UK claims dispute specialists Flaxmans Insurance Agency and has been compiled in response to requests from its members.
The handbook has identified seven points which define good practice to deal with disputes. They are:
- Always thank the customer, within two or three days of receiving the complaint, for taking the trouble to bring it to the notice of the company;
- Never require the employee responsible for the decision that causes the complaint to be responsible for dealing with it; that is a clear conflict of interest and cannot be justified;
- Consider the complaint from the viewpoint of the customer, not just from the viewpoint of an experienced insurance expert. This will expose the misunderstanding factor that actually goes to the heart of most insurance disputes;
- Where insurance practice is the reason for not upholding a customer’s complaint, go to the trouble of explaining how it works and why the decision is fair;
- If the reason for not upholding a complaint is a ‘technical’ reason of policy wording that gives the right to refuse but does not need to be relied upon in this particular case, then do not rely upon it just because you can;
- Try to avoid ‘having to win’, ie always trying to prove the insurer (or broker) is right against the customer. Introduce a spirit of good faith and customer loyalty to the resolution of complaints and make a feature of it in the complaints process. A polite, fair, well written explanation goes a long way towards client satisfaction and loyalty; and
- Above all, treat a customer with respect and courtesy throughout the process and avoid using jargon language. It puts a barrier between the firm and the customer that cements a feeling of distrust.
Jeremy Trott, non-executive director of the SOCP, said: “Nobody wants to receive a complaint; however, they are inevitable.
“What is important to remember is how to handle it in a way that does not cause greater distress to the customer while demonstrating that you are also being fair.
“Complaints should also be used as an opportunity to identify how in touch with your customer you actually are.
“By taking on board customer feedback, you should be continually looking to improve services, so that they remain relevant.
“The core message from all of this is if you are treating your customers fairly. By understanding the ever changing wants and needs of customer will allow insurers to adapt and make the necessary steps towards improving public trust.”