One of our insurance clients wanted to change their corporate image. It was essential that they moved away from being seen as the ‘just say no’ people to a reputation for working with brokers to build business. But how was a whole claims team going to change their approach without brokers suddenly seeing them as a ‘soft touch’ and pushing for unfair pay-outs on claims? The Business Leadership team was clear about the answer – the future was collaborative negotiation and not claims rejection.
deWinton-Williams was given the challenge of shifting culture while keeping a commercial edge to the negotiation of claims.
Our first step was to define the negotiation model we would use. We identified the Fry and Ury model which focuses on building long-term relationships through focus on interests rather than positions. Giving claims professionals a good theory, however, was not enough. We had to make training relevant, realistic and based on the reality of their world.
Our approach was to create a training programme using real-play techniques in which delegates built up layers of skills through practice with trained actors. To ensure relevance we created scenarios based on real claims in marine, property, health, catastrophe and more. We even sent our actors to Lloyds of London so that they could observe the interactions between Underwriters and Placing Brokers and so better understand how the insurance contract comes into being. Too often Claims were seen as the back-office service in darkened rooms. We deliberately linked their decisions and behaviours to both renewals and new business.
The training was no walk in the park. One very experienced delegate stated ‘I have never been so far out of my comfort zone – but I have never learned so much in two days. I have changed.’ Another declared ‘I can’t wait to get back to the desk and use these skills!’
The result was that the claims professionals were able to make significant shifts in their relationship with brokers and clients. Conflict reduced and co-operation increased. Over a short time, brokers started to change their attitude and their feedback.
The claims team went to the top of the market rankings by brokers and stayed there for five years. More than that, motivation increased in the claims teams as stresses reduced in their relationship with brokers and clients.