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Groundhog Day

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Sunday 12th February 2017 | By ma-admin

Groundhog Day


On 2nd February, the groundhog emerged from its burrow. According to folklore, if it is cloudy then the spring weather will persist for six more weeks. This year he saw his shadow so we can expect to see six more weeks of cold weather, at least in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania anyway.

No doubt many of you will remember the film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as a TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. After many times going through the loop Bill Murray’s character decides to use his knowledge of the day’s events to try to better himself and the lives of the townsfolks. Only then does the time loop break.

Groundhog Day is a fun analogy of life as a property insurance claims manager. The same issues seem to arise again and again, and we try to break that time loop. During 2016, to make the lives of our customers and clients better, we have been analysing feedback from detractors to understand the issues they encountered and how we and our suppliers can improve our service.

In MA Assist we have been collecting satisfaction scores from customers at the end of their insurance claims for over 2 years. We ask them to rate our suppliers and MA Assist separately using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) method. Our suppliers and MA Assist consistently achieve world class scores.

Towards the end of 2015, we published an opinion piece called “Getting off the rollercoaster”. This introduced our Customer Satisfaction Evolution initiative where we track the NPS of customers as they progress through their insurance claim. The results were interesting and are summarised below.

After 7 months of collecting and analysing the detractor data we are now able to share the results with you and detail the actions we have taken as a result of our findings. Has anything changed for us as a property insurance claims manager in the 14 months since we published “Getting off the rollercoaster”, or does the time loop continue?

NPS – a recap

Many leading companies in all industries use Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to measure their performance. The theory is that if you want to measure customer satisfaction the most important question to ask is What is the likelihood of you recommending us to a friend or colleague?”

The response is a score out of ten, and puts each customer into one of three categories: 0 – 6 = Detractor, 7 – 8 = Passive, 9 – 10 = Promoter.

Then to get the NPS score the percentage of detractors are deducted from the percentage of promoters. As detractors are more vocal than promoters, and so will have a much bigger impact on the reputation of the business than a promoter, the promoters need to outweigh the detractors significantly. So an NPS score of over 50% is generally regarded as very good.

MA Assist, a property insurance claims manager, has been measuring customer satisfaction at the end of a claim using NPS since June 2014. We publish the NPS on the MA Assist website at the end of every month, for both our suppliers and MA Assist, and we are very proud of the WORLD CLASS scores we get every month. For 2016 the average NPS for our suppliers was 76% and for MA Assist it was 61%, with a return rate averaging just under 50%.

Neither MA Assist nor our suppliers are perfect, and sometimes we do get it wrong. Since June 2016 we have been carrying out detailed analyses and investigations into the feedback we have had from detractors. Just 4% of the claims that we managed in 2016 had detractors, but a lot can be learned from this small group of customers.

Virtus Validations and Cipher UK collect NPS for each of their jobs, and we hope that they will be able to start reporting on their results very soon.

“Getting off the rollercoaster” findings

At the end of our opinion piece, Getting off the rollercoaster, we shared the results of our research up to that point. It was clear that MA Assist was being presented with real challenges as a property insurance claims manager when claims finally reached the Control Centre – the customer was often already dissatisfied before we got started. They had already endured delays, inconvenience and a lot of effort to get the claim that far. But in most cases we managed to turn it around.

Our research identified some clear trends in customer satisfaction and experience over the life of a claim:

  • For all clients, there are high levels of customer dissatisfaction when the claim is passed to MA Assist as a result of delays.
  • Customer satisfaction falls slightly as they wait for approvals and the works to start.
  • There is a clear correlation between customer dissatisfaction and the number of parties involved in a claim.
  • Once customers see their claims progressing well their satisfaction levels increase dramatically.
  • Detractors consistently complain of having to make too much effort – chasing the insurer or its agents, taking time off work and liaising with many different parties.
  • There is often a lack of understanding of the process and the parties involved by the customer, and communication and explanations out to the customer can be poor.

The results of this exercise vary greatly between clients, depending on the validation and restoration models used. The closing NPS scores vary widely between clients as well.

So we have looked at the feedback from the detractors for the past 7 months to see if these trends have changed at all, and whether our conclusions at the end of that opinion paper are still valid.

The detractor process

At the end of every claim where there is a detractor we contact the customer to talk to them in more detail about the issues he or she encountered. We record the details of their dissatisfaction and make sure that we have done everything that we can to rectify the situation.

The timeline of the claim is then examined and a detailed report is prepared for each detractor setting out the detractor’s comments and a summary of causes. The report also highlights which party was the cause of the poor customer feedback and why –  this could be the supplier, the client, a property insurance claims manager such as MA Assist or a loss adjuster/other third party.

The detractor report is sent to the operations team, the account management team and supply chain management team for them to take action.  A clear deadline for the required actions is set and the results of those actions are fed back into the detractor anaylsis. We also feed the results back to the client where we feel the information is helpful for them and their teams.

Examples of feedback and actions for suppliers are:

“If authorised works are no longer deemed as required whilst works are being undertaken can it please be reiterated to the suppliers that both the policy holder and MA Assist need to be made aware and of the reason why”

“Looking through this claim it appears there was a failure by XX here to keep the policy holder updated on when they were going to be adding additional costs, the reason for delays and poor workmanship. Please take this up with XX”

Examples of feedback and actions for operations are:

Many of the communication issues that arose during this claim could have been easily resolved if a conference call had taken place. The Control Centre are to be retold the value of conference calling.”

“Once claims are approved and a start date task set for the supplier MA Assist can occasionally lose sight of these as after this point there are often no tasks set for MA Assist. The new approval process put into place in September helps address this. As now once a claim is approved MA Assist will follow up 3 days later…”

Examples of actions for account management are:

“In regards to the scope we initially received from XX it seems as though we were not given the full list which was agreed on site with the surveyor and policy holder. Please feedback to XX”

“Can we please feedback to XX the length of time it took for MA Assist to be provided with advice on what works would be covered under the insurance claim for the roof…”


Delays remain the most common cause of frustration for detractors – the first time loop! 57% of detractors complained about delays. Of these, the detractors said that 34% of the delays are caused by the client or their agent and 27% were caused by the supplier.

65% of claims had been ongoing for more than 10 days before they were assigned to MA Assist, which suggests that frustration around delays are generally building before we get the claim. Any delays by MA Assist or the supplier simply exacerbate the situation.

Lack of understanding

Time loop number two – a lack of understanding of the process and the parties involved by the customer, and communication and explanations out to the customer can be poor.

Everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to explain the process to the customer. It is a complicated process that often needs explaining more than once. This is where MA Assist and its suppliers need to be better at explaining the process and the reason for any delays as they arise. Due to a lack of understanding of the claim process and the number of parties involved, the customer often assumes that the supplier is causing the delays as they often have the most contact with the customer during the reinstatement process.

On several occasions our suppliers were good at updating the loss adjuster or MA Assist, but not so good at updating the customer. Keeping the customer updated regarding the works schedule and progress is vital for managing customer expectations.

Managing the customer is as important for a supplier as managing staff. Often the delays are caused by the customer not making material choices, when the supplier should have made it clear from the start that such choices needed to be made quickly so that the claim is not delayed.

Number of parties involved

Time loop number three – 67% of claims with a detractor had more than one other party involved. i.e. a loss adjuster, a surveying company, a drying company or an asbestos company (or all four!).

71% of claims with detractors were pre-scoped. We have long argued that the perceived cost and speed benefits of using the current pre-scoping models do not materialise when it comes to fulfilment. We still see high numbers of variations from pre-scoped works that are rushed and inconsistent, causing more delays and confusion for the customer. Current surveying models do not encourage accurate and consistent surveying processes that put the customer at the heart of the process. And we also have a Primary Authority ruling to support our views. There needs to be more liaison between surveyors and builders to ensure an initial schedule of works is as fully scoped as it can be, so that costs are agreed and approved quickly and, unless there are unforeseeable issues, the works progress without a hitch.

35% of the claims with a detractor involved a loss adjuster and 31% involved drying.  By involving more than one party the operational frictions increase and delays grow.


An analysis of the detractor feedback has not changed our conclusions from our previous opinion piece:

  • Reduce the number of parties involved in a claim. It may sound counter-intuitive to a cost-conscious insurer, but if control of the claim rests with one property insurance claims manager throughout the process the customer experience is improved. MA Assist has demonstrated this repeatedly through its combined survey/approval and reinstatement services: customer satisfaction is higher and the claim durations and costs are reduced.
  • Minimise the sequential nature of the claims process. If several suppliers are involved, each stage of the claim takes place sequentially. But there is no reason why they can’t run in parallel. For example, our MA Dry process has been proven to reduce claim durations and costs through effective and focussed drying with parallel reinstatement works.
  • Manage customer expectations. If the process is explained to the customer from the start then expectations can be managed too. The insurer should send the customer a simple process map to help them understand who the various parties are and how the claim will progress.
  • Minimise repetition. If the customer has to repeat the details of the claim to more than one party then frustration mounts quickly. Better sharing of information between parties is needed and any self-service option should be well-designed and communicated. MA Assist’s Home Insurance Repair Estimator (HIRE) is a great example of an easy to use self service that gives all parties involved the information they need to progress the claim.
  • Empathise with the customer. All too often process over-rides empathy and customer needs. Empowering front line claims handlers to take decisions that will move a claim along quickly will improve the customer experience significantly.

But we are trying to break the time loop, in the hope that, like Bill Murray, we will wake up one morning and find things different.

Open Days

We are holding two open days at our offices in Aylesbury on 2nd and 3rd March where representatives from MA Assist and other companies in the MA Group will be showcasing our latest new products, services and innovations:

Virtus Validations

Our new independent validation and surveying company, Virtus Validations, is designed to put the customer first and to ensure a smooth handover to building contractors with its contractor management service. With cutting edge technology and a sound understanding of consumer rights, this new surveying service is designed to address the issues that the industry faces with the current surveying models. Dan Ashton will be talking about this new service and demonstrating the process and the technology.


We will also be demonstrating our new mobile surveying app that is designed to ensure surveyors have the time and resources to deliver the best customer service. This cutting edge technology takes videos and voice recordings, as well as the usual information and data required for a validation or survey. It automatically produces a comprehensive report and information that syncs into our in-house operating system, Reflex 360, which can then be forwarded to clients.

EOW proposition

We have used our 20+ years of experience in managing escape of water claims to develop an integrated EOW proposition that reduces operational friction and hand-offs, delivers a better service to customers with reduced claim durations and costs. Alex Kilpatrick, our Group Sales and Marketing Director, will be on hand to talk about this new initiative which incorporates MA Dry.

Broker Aid

We have developed a specific service for brokers that offers a flexible claims solution that ensures their customers receive exceptional customer service that consistently delivers an NPS of over 70%. Our BrokerAid solution delivers a comprehensive menu of property claims services that range from initial validation, through to repair and full project management, through our dedicated central Broker Hub supported by leading edge technology.

Clients, suppliers, surveyors and anyone else are welcome to attend our open days. If you would like to attend, please get in touch with Sally-Ann Johnson or Alex Kilpatrick.

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