Simon Smith, Director Claims Strategy at Carpenters – Industry Leader Interview

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

I think the biggest challenge facing a number of organisations in our market is the welfare concerns for our employees, both those working remotely and those working within a new Covid secure office environment. Positive physical and mental health is so important to maintain employee wellbeing. We encourage our people to take advantage of Pilates, running, mindfulness, talking to our Wellbeing Champions and many other initiatives, which we can facilitate virtually to ensure everyone has the support they need.

Communication is also vital, we can never communicate too often. We want our people to understand and be involved in what is going on within the business and around them in this ever-changing climate. It is a very unsettling time for everyone. Our weekly CEO communication has really encouraged people to be open with how they are feeling and provide feedback with how they want future office to work.

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

There was certainly a school of thought that the Insurance Market may bunker down and conduct very little supply chain or procurement business during the first 6 months of the pandemic, we have actually seen the opposite. A number of insurers are assessing their future supply chain requirements for their customers and establishing the best ways to work collaboratively in a Post Covid environment. This in turn brings the opportunity and the ability to shape a new customer experience, which involves matching technology with the human touch, I remain convinced that the best customer experiences are still heavily supported by a human, the moment of “truth” having spent money on premium, remains the FNOL experience itself. I am yet to encounter any technology that offers the same feeling of care & empathy after any form of loss.

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

I am genuinely looking forward to returning to an office for a couple of days per week. The tangibility of an office, the hustle, the bustle, the problem solving together as part of a team is something I miss. I am certainly an advocate of home working, but would suggest that my optimum home working model would not be more than 2 days per week.

In terms of new practices, I’ve been impressed by Microsoft Teams and the ability to conference people together quickly and efficiently, this is something that I will certainly utilise regardless of home working or being back in the office.

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

I think as a parent first and foremost I’d have wanted to be better prepared as a father for what was about to happen in the middle of March. The excitement for both my children that school was being cancelled for “a couple of weeks” soon turned sour when they realised that they could not see their friends, grandparents, play team sports. This was hard to deal with, especially not being able to answer the most important question posed all year “Dad, when will all this be over?”

Secondly, home office – with hindsight, I would have absolutely taken the opportunity to create an office environment outside of the home and ensure that the home remains the home and the office is the office. I have recently moved out of the home office to work in the dining room, more space, and more light and as we move into winter, it is also warmer!

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

I think we will see a struggle to return to pre-Covid road traffic numbers and a new norm could be 85% of the prior journeys take place in the future. Not great reading for some readers I am sure, but we still do not know where the “bottom is” in turns of Covid’s impact on the economy itself.

We may see an increase in alternative transport solutions when people do return to cities, even if this is 2 or 3 days per week. I think the Santander cycle scheme in London has demonstrated that a more conscious mobility user is already adapting to inner-city transport requirements and I expect to see cycle usage and e-scooter adoption increase significantly over the next 5 -10 years, this will no doubt be accelerated as we see the ULEZ increase in some cities during 2022 & 2023.

My big prediction would be more change and there is one thing that is certain, the time to understand your offering, end-to-end is now, and then ask yourself; are we doing enough? Could we do more? You will find the answer to one of those questions is most certainly “yes”.


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