Industry leader interview with Owen Pugh, Director of TPA and Network Services at Claims Consortium Group

  1. What are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?

We’ve naturally had a hectic and unusual few months linked to COVID-19. We initially focussed on our staff and customers and ensuring we had a clear understanding of the current position on managing claims under the new and changing Government guidance.

We carefully support our most vulnerable customers and were acutely aware of the increase in customers that would now be defined as vulnerable as a result of the coronavirus.

Our priority was to ensure we could make quick decisions on what works needed to start and continue, and which, based on initial Government guidelines, needed to be put on hold.

Our ability to do this was due to our early anticipation of certain restrictions and our fantastic IT teams relocating our entire workforce including the call centre, to a working from home environment within 48hrs of the “work from home” message received at the end of March.

One of the biggest ongoing challenges is ensuring we maintain the right balance of communications across all stakeholder groups both internally and externally. Our goal has been to keep our teams, customers, clients and contractor network, fully informed and reassured throughout this time on the different actions we are taking.

Our claims management technology allows all parties involved in a claim to see real-time updates on the present claims position as well as next steps, and this has naturally been an invaluable tool. We were also able to expedite the production of additional software to increase the number of virtual communication options available for customers. We enabled self-serve FNOL for any claim type as well as virtual scoping and validation tools. This has allowed us to progress claims where appropriate in an environment that is quick and efficient for all parties where information can be shared live.

We have also produced a range of additional custom multi-media communications on pertinent issues ranging from health and safety and PPE, parts and materials availability and WIP management, through to team quizzes, virtual webinars and a wellbeing community resource site.

  1. What has been your biggest business learning from the coronavirus pandemic?

I’d have to echo my previous comments on the importance of honest, transparent communication. It can be easy for businesses to fall into the trap of not focusing on communication, especially when there are so many other business priorities. For us, we have really seen the benefit of staying on the front foot and keeping all relevant parties up to date with what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, and what might happen next. This has made the past few months much better for all parties.

This has been a completely new experience for everyone – customers and businesses alike, and sometimes there isn’t a perfect or right answer, but we’ve found it incredibly refreshing how supportive our customers and clients have been with helping us to progress through the challenges of social distancing, customer interaction, property visits.

Good communication fosters a more positive mentality between all parties, which is even more important in times like these.  Without the amazing resilience and positive attitude of our staff and network, we’d never have been able to maintain our service standards and get on with the job during these difficult times. Without exception, everyone has stepped up to the plate and adapted to new surroundings, new processes, and new ways of working. Sharing examples of this further feeds into the positive feeling of collaboration – yes times are tough but we are all in this together.

  1. As we go to a “new normal” what are you looking forward to returning to and practices will you keep?

At the moment we are treating the here and now as the new normal… If we need to keep working from home using technology more, conducting more of our technical field interactions remotely, as well as continuing to have to remind that one colleague they’re on mute and having my little girl in the background singing along to her latest Disney favourite while I am talking to a client, then so be it!

Am I missing going into the office, catching up with our teams face to face, and seeing something other than the four walls of my kitchen – of course. I am sure we will move forwards and get back to the place of more colleague interaction, but the last few months has taught us all that we don’t have to travel 200 miles for a meeting, and our colleagues and customers are really receptive to different ways of working and embracing technology.

  1. If you could go back to the beginning of 2020, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?

From a personal perspective, I’d have squeezed in a few nice hot holidays at the start of the year! From a work perspective though, it’s easy – I’d simply tell myself not to worry and to have full faith in our teams. The first few days of lockdown were of course a worry, and with so many unknowns there were some late nights and serious conversations about what different eventualities could and how quickly some of the changes might need to be made. However, our teams have stepped up, gone above and beyond and been fantastic throughout. In a similar way to when a weather surge comes along and everyone really embraces the challenge, that’s exactly what we’ve seen here too.

  1. What would be your prediction for the industry in 2021?

I think the COVID-19 challenges have pushed the industry forwards a few years in terms of having to embrace certain technologies and new working practices sooner than perhaps originally planned. More use of video technology, remote connections with customers, self-serve, automation and increased online interaction are here to stay and the reliance on having boots on the ground has been significantly reduced. However, technology is only one string to the bow – albeit an incredibly important one and the importance of the human touch should not be underestimated. Without great people, and the ability to still be able to have a face to face visit with your customers and their property when needed, the overall service delivery package for claims handling isn’t there.

Without the amazing resilience and positive attitude of our staff and network, we’d never have been able to maintain our service standards and get on with the job during these difficult times.

Owen Pugh


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