Carl Van of International Insurance Institute discusses what makes a great customer service company great. In the first of the five standards that make a great customer service company great we find that great companies KNOW WHY THEY ARE GREAT!
Monthly Archives: April 2013
Interview: Carl Van, ITP, President & CEO, International Insurance Institute, Inc.
Carl Van graduated from California State University, Sacramento where he received his bachelor’s degree in Insurance. He has been in the insurance claims industry since 1980 where he held a variety of positions. Mr. Van is the author of over 75 technical and soft skill workshops being taught throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Mr. Van is creator, presenter and producer of all claims training videos at Claims Education On Line, which include Time Management, Customer Service, Negotiations and Critical Thinking, all specific to claims professionals. Mr. Van is the Dean of the School of Claims Performance, and has served as both board member and Regional Vice President of the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators.
Carl Van will present “The Three Driving Factors for Improving Claims Employee Performance” on June 19, 2013 at 12:45pm.
1. What is your definition of a truly exceptional performer?
A truly exceptional performer is one who understands the big picture of what they are supposed to be accomplishing, cares about doing an excellent job, and has the job knowledge and skill to do it well. They question the status quo, but don’t waste time waging war on company policy or procedures. They are “givers” rather than “takers.”
2. Explain how this definition applies to claims professionals.
In claims, we have an issue with the “big picture” part of that definition. Usually, in our Claims Customer Service courses, we ask claims professionals to use words or phrases to describe their jobs. They will say things like, “investigate”, “negotiate”, “answer the phone”, “handle mail”, “complete diary tasks”,” write estimates”, and about a thousand other things. What is almost never uttered is “Customer Service.”
Claims is a customer service business. We don’t build anything, and we don’t make anything. We are a 100% customer service business. We don’t fix cars, someone else does that. We don’t mend wounds, someone else does that. We don’t rebuild houses, someone else does that. We arrange for those things to happen, and that is the customer service piece. Sometimes we pay people, and sometime we don’t pay them and explain why. Even that is part of the customer service we provide.
The very best claims professionals are those who are technically sound, but it the end, understand we are here to help people. An adjuster who doesn’t understand that will say, “If you don’t sign this form, we can’t pay you.” An adjuster who does understand that will say, “If you can sign this form, we can begin paying you.” An adjuster who doesn’t understand that will say, “It sounds like you’re confused. An adjuster who does understand that will say, “Maybe I didn’t explain things clearly, let me try again.” An adjuster who doesn’t understand that will say, “We’re going to take depreciation.” An adjuster who does understand that will say, “Let me help explain why we take depreciation.”
3. What are the “three driving factors for improving claims employee performance” that you will talk about at the America’s Claims Event this coming June?
Performance is made up of two things, Attitude and Ability. Attitude is 80%, and Ability is 20%. It’s the Pareto Principal; the old 80‐20 rule. Driving up that performance can have many avenues. I will be speaking on these three areas: Creating a culture of customer service awareness; setting a standard that improvement is part of the job; and providing the training and support for people to reach their potential. Many claims organizations will say they do all these things already, when the truth is that it is their greatest weakness.
4. In what tangible ways can your ideas be implemented at the office?
Every interaction in a claims office is a potential training opportunity. Office meetings, break room conversations, casual conversations about procedure changes, etc. are all perfect times to create a culture. Declarations in newsletters, e‐mails, memos, wall signs and the like are very weak methods to garner support for a culture improvement compared to an open discussion in an office meeting.
5. What is the one key takeaway that you hope audience members will get from your talk at the event?
That improvement is possible, available, and much less expensive than not doing anything. You can hire all of the talented people you want, but in the end, if there is not a system in place to shape that talent, it’s all a waste of time. In management we seem to accept that it is normal to have only a couple of exceptional performers, rather than believe we are in control of creating them.
The Three Driving Factors for Improving Claims Employee Performance
Carl Van Biography
About America’s Claims Event The 17th Annual America’s Claims Event is the ONLY industry event where senior managers, practitioners & experts involved with claims operations can get the insight they need to implement effective and tactical strategies for their claims handling process. More than 400 professionals and decision‐makers from mid‐size to large Fortune 500 companies attend the event to engage in idea exchanging and peer‐to‐peer learning. Attendees gain deep insight from the experts and obtain unparalleled access to proven solutions to confront their operational challenges.