If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it is a phase all too commonly used, but does that mean you’re actually saying – let’s not improve?
When judging performance if it seems to be going well, we sometimes make the mistake of thinking “Let’s leave the area alone, its working” but should we be thinking “how could it be better?”
The best way to find out is to look at outsourcing as a test and measure process, but why should we outsource? We are doing just fine with our internal personnel and processes. This statement may well be what most people think when outsourcing comes up on an advert, in a conversation or as an idea.
What outsourcing brings to any organisation is a specialist set of skills that are relevant to the industry they operate in, it also provides good insight into how to potentially do things differently. Or if you prefer the outsource partner can be left to get on with the job and report back results.
Businesses outsource very important functions such as HR, recruitment, legal advice, right down to cleaning. The reason for this is, is that outsource partner provides very unique, specific and important business support functions which enable you to benefit from their skills and expertise whilst you can focus on the day to day running of your organisation. The reality is all outsource providers offer their own unique solution that can add real value to every business they work with.
At Hamilton Claims Solutions we have developed new skills, processes and broadened our expertise through partnering with other organisations. This has equipped us to diversify and expand our bespoke service solution. It has given us opportunity to look internally at how and why we do things with a view to making changes, enhancing services and continuously improving performance. In turn this has not only benefitted us, our customers have been rewarded with even better results.
The motivation for any outsource partner is to build their brand, grow their reputation and deliver results. This is why it’s not always about fixing something that isn’t broken, it’s about continuous improvement.
If it isn’t broken – don’t fix it – improve it!
As we are two thirds through quarter one it is time to reflect on performance. Are you on track for achieving the commercial targets set? If you are then that’s great news and you should celebrate the team’s success. If you are not is it time for reflection as to why not? Were the targets set challenging, are you suffering with resource issues or are there other obstacles that need to be taken into consideration?
Regardless of which position you are in, attentions will shortly turn to Quarter two. Due to the many different departments within the motor claims industry some areas may be performing very strongly whilst others might be falling behind, the question is why?
Whilst the Customer Service and customer retention areas of the business may be performing very well, are other areas? What about case management, debt recovery or any other part of the motor claims chain, are these delivering?
Targets and requirements of different departments frequently change often by quarter, sometimes by month. It is important to be able to adapt to these variables and have the resource and infrastructure in place to keep pace with changing demands.
Whether you are on track for success or failure, it is vital to have a clear understanding of what is happening. What are the real issues, more importantly, what is the primary cause? So how do we do this?
An ideal scenario would be to be able to benchmark current performance against a different metric. Some may feel that this could be done in house with staff that are trained in the same company process. The problem in doing this is you are using the same metric which in turn will probably reveal the same or very similar results. An alternative is to outsource and benchmark the internal performance against an independent outsource partner’s results.
An external benchmarking exercise will give an indication as to the true level of internal performance. Once this exercise has been analysed, over a period of time, the results should be shared, discussed and changes to processes made if required. This approach will provide invaluable feedback and help to better understand true internal levels of performance, resource required and help improve operational processes.
As with any industry sector, the motor claims industry is full of challenges. In most cases we focus on the challenges from external sources such as other companies and customers we have to communicate with, should the real focus be on how to identify and overcome internal challenges?
What are my internal challenges?
Regardless of your position within an organisation we as individuals all face challenges; these come in many forms on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis and often the root cause is people and/or process.
Is it the People?
It would be fantastic to have a dream team where everything was always perfect. Unfortunately in business there is always a people element to consider. Do staff members all feel valued, motivated and are they able to prioritise their workflow with a clear target which is challenging but achievable? Simon Sinek covers this in “leaders eat last” we as Human being’s all like to feel safe and secure at work, which is in our chemistry to enable us to work together better.
Is it the Process?
Does everything run smoothly? How can we really tell? Processes run the business but people run the processes! Fragmented departments without the correct tools and ability to measure success of the process can be damaging, the best measure is the feedback from the people running the process. We must ensure people understand the vision and purpose of the process and how that fits in with the business vision. We also need to assess whether the team is having to or choosing to work harder as opposed to smarter. Another consideration is if process encourages staff to put up barriers that cause difficulties when dealing with external customers, are they too busy fighting or defending your process when dealing with other companies?
Are we a team?
Ask this question! Think about what could have been done better to support colleagues, check their focus – are they individually outperforming everyone else to impress or are they relying on other team members to carry them? All individuals have different outlooks when looking for or valuing success. A successful team has members which feel included and cared about. The entire team must understand what is expected of them, so they can set personal objectives, achieve goals and appreciate their current progress. The team must be focused on their own success, but also see the bigger picture of how powerful collaboration will achieve ultimate success.
Achieving Goals together!
The road to greater success is always together, there is the old saying that two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two. Human beings are wired to have interaction and we excel when we share our skills and reach higher goals, the basic genetics that have evolved us from a primitive beginning. We always achieve more when we feel supported and encouraged, we also feel greater achievement and celebrate when we feel we contributed and gained as a team. This is how continuous improvement is achieved, by working together and having invaluable feedback from a team of engaged employee’s working to a common goal which is the Vision of where the business needs to go.
What role does every person play in solving challenges of a motor claims department? A very big one, regardless of position or status!
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For many companies one of the perennial questions and operational challenges is which part of the claims process to manage in house and which part to outsource.
For claims handling, the picture is complicated and dynamic. It is often based on the personal preference of a particular claims manager or CEO and the strategy can change a quickly as a name plate on an office door! By the very fact that the philosophy changes on a regular basis it means that the company concerned is unlikely to ever reach the optimum solution as it is in a constant state of implementing new processes.
There is no right or wrong answer to the insource / outsource debate. The key is identifying a medium to long term strategy and then developing processes and a supply chain that can support that but at the same time flex as the business grows and adapts.
Many believe that an outsource partner for certain aspects of the claims management process, does provide much needed flexibility and aids effective capacity management. No company can economically be staffed throughout the entire year to deal with peak or surge volumes levels.
An outsource partner can also provide valuable free ‘consultancy’. Without breaching contractual agreements an outsource claims partner will have process innovation and systems expertise and development that they share and can feedback to their clients which in turn helps both partners achieve a more efficient operating model and ultimately delivers better customer service.
Like it or not, if we are serious about year round quality customer service and keeping ahead of the competition, there will always be a place for an outsourcing partner to provide that much needed support at difficult and busy times.