6/27/2016

Sharing the Stage of the Customer Experience

The industry cannot afford to limit its thoughts and ideas for future improvements.

By Mark Welstead

We’ve all seen suggestion boxes at the local bank, email inboxes overflowing with requests for feedback, and 18-inch-long department store receipts with online survey requests. On their own, there is nothing inherently bad about these attempts to gauge customer satisfaction. Where they often fail, however, comes in the accuracy of measurement and truly actionable data collected. The restoration industry is no different when it comes to knowing all we can about the customer service experience at every step of a job. The industry cannot afford to limit its thoughts and ideas for future improvements. 

The use of a scoring system can empower a customer service division to deliver the desired superior results and best serve the needs of a claims professional by proactively gauging how well companies serve their customers. When the customer’s experience is a shared stage between several businesses, open communication and a strong performance-monitoring system together can help achieve a harmonious project that leaves every party happy. 

Customer service scoring systems are not new, but they have come a long way in recent years, especially in the restoration industry. There are several different programs that are owned by different companies, including, but not limited to, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Value Progression Adjusted Sigma Score (VPASS). These scores are metrics for customer feedback that, when used appropriately, can help to stimulate profitable growth and drive the direction, focus, and improvement initiatives of any successful company with customer service excellence in mind. In addition, scores should be available to claims professionals and insurers as a representation of the experience that their policyholders and customers encountered. 

How It Works

At its core, VPASS is a dynamic and transparent method of measuring and quantifying overall performance, while also helping to predict future performance. It highlights the unique requirements of each client, guiding service providers through the complexity that occurs when working with multiple national programs. 

Companies that employ the use of NPS, VPASS, or another similar program should strive to apply it in a way that can directly and positively impact the role of claims professionals and insurers. The score can serve several powerful purposes. 

As an example, from an insurance claims professional’s perspective, what is the main goal of a home or business restoration job? The answer is fairly straightforward: to return the structure and contents to pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. However, tremendous perceived customer value toward an insurance provider (and its selected restoration contractor) comes from the overall experience and satisfaction during the entire process of the job. These scoring systems, therefore, are an accurate and actionable representation of customer satisfaction, which a claims professional and insurer can review to see how well contractors are treating their customers and policyholders. 

The reported score is a transparent and quantifiable figure that tells a claims professional how happy his customer was with the completed job. When selecting a restoration and cleaning contractor, the claims professional and insurer are telling their policyholder that the company is trustworthy and will take care of their home or business in their time of need. The contracted restoration company should understand that the job, from initial dispatch to final cleanup, is an extension of this trust and the reputation of the claims professional and insurer. 

Improving Performance 

The best way to improve performance is to measure results, and the only way to accurately measure results is to focus on specifics. Every point of contact with a customer is critical, and these types of programs are designed to ask key questions accordingly. Individual locations that can dig deeper into the “why” behind the number can create actionable steps to improve that part of the customer service experience. 

Scoring systems are a barometer of overall customer loyalty and should be used to rally associates around a shared goal. Going back to the insurance example, given the nature of renovation work and close contact with home and business owners, the restoration company’s VPASS score now becomes a supplemental VPASS for insurance providers. The jobsite becomes a reflection on the insurance provider and claims professional in assigning the restoration company to that job. This responsibility should be taken seriously and with great honor. 

Measuring becomes a powerful way to substantiate customer service value for not only the selected restoration contractor, but also the claims professional and insurer. The stage is shared by a variety of businesses, and everyone should strive for shared goals. Scoring systems can help illustrate this process and, when needed, give pointed direction for areas of improvement. 

By analyzing scores, insurance claims professionals can feel confident in the quality of customer care that their customers will receive. An outstanding score is a pledge of superior customer service expressed in a verifiable and powerful format. The pledge also can help reduce a claims professional’s apprehension about customer service when a job is dispatched via national account agreement. While claims professionals may feel as if the contractor’s decision was out of their hands, they can rest assured that their customers will receive great service as expressed by the score.

Restoration companies, especially those that are locally based, often invest years in creating, maintaining, and enhancing their community character. This standard also applies to the hardworking and customer-focused claims professionals with whom they work. This shared dedication to customer service excellence isn’t just a business best practice; it’s also the right way to treat people.



Mark Welstead is president of Rainbow International. He has been a CLM Fellow since 2016 and can be reached at mark.welstead@rainbowintl.com.

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