Monthly Archives: September 2015
Time Spent Negotiating
As a claims professional, you spend a lot of time negotiating. Of that time, do you know the amount of time spent negotiating the dollar amount of something? You might be surprised that only ten percent of your negotiating time is spent negotiating money. Only ten percent! The other ninety percent of the time you spend negotiating; you are actually negotiating for something else. What do you spend ninety percent of your time negotiating?
As a claims professional, you are spending ninety percent of your time negotiating for cooperation. That’s right, simple cooperation. Consider this: Do you ever ask customers to sign a form and send it in? If so, you are negotiating for the customer’s cooperation to move the claims process along. Do you ask customers to send in receipts? If so, you are negotiating for cooperation. Do you ask customers to return your phone call, to release a vehicle, to meet you for an inspection? The list of ways you ask customers to cooperate goes on and on. In all of these, you are negotiating for cooperation. When you ask a customer to do anything, which might be long before the claim value discussion, you’re beginning a negotiation process. If they say yes, the negotiation is over. But if they say no you have to continue negotiating for their cooperation.
Remember, a great negotiator has a process and uses the same steps over and over again. You can master this first set of steps and use them every day in your job.
We will start with the three steps of negotiating for cooperation, and see how those three steps fit into our final model of the five steps of negotiating claims settlements.
As we mentioned before, when asking a customer to do something, many times the customer’s answer is “yes.” They cooperate and the negotiation is over. But, what if the customer’s response is “no?” Let’s see how a claims professional does in this example, where he asks the customer to do something, and the customer doesn’t cooperate:
Mr. Drennen: “Hello.”
Brad: “Yeah, Mr. Drennen, this is Brad from Typical Insurance Company. I’m calling about that medical authorization. We still haven’t received that back from you yet.”
Mr. Drennen: “Well, I’m not going to send it.”
Brad: “What do you mean, you’re not going to send it? You have to send it. I mean, we need that medical authorization.”
Mr. Drennen: “I’m not signing anything. I am not sending anything.”
Brad: “Well you realize, Mr. Drennen, if you don’t send it, you’re not getting paid.”
Mr. Drennen: “I told you, Brad, I am not sending you anything. You can threaten me all you want.”
Brad: “Well, I just have to remind you that your policy says you have to cooperate and if you don’t, there may be no coverage at all.”
Mr. Drennen: “Hey man, I’m not sending you anything.”
Brad: “Well then fine, we just can’t pay you.”
Ultimatums Don’t Pay Off
Yes, it was a little rough, but did that sound somewhat familiar? It might sound a little heavy handed, but in monitoring phone calls at different insurance companies all over the world, we can tell you, it doesn’t sound too far off. Even good claims professionals, in an effort to get the customer to do something, have been heard speaking exactly like that to customers. They don’t mean to be rude; they’re trying to gain cooperation. However, to the customer, the ultimatum feels like being hit with a hammer.
We call this the “Claims Hammer.” You know the Claims Hammer: “If you don’t do this, here is the bad thing that will happen.” We’re trying to show the customer they should cooperate for their own benefit. Unfortunately, the words sound like a threat; it comes across as an ultimatum. Nobody likes ultimatums. Doesn’t your customer deserve better?
As claims professionals, we know that it makes our job much easier if people trust us. You may be doing something to lose trust and you don’t even realize it. The number one thing you can do to lose trust is to threaten somebody. Give somebody an ultimatum, and see if they ever trust you again.
On the flip side, it is very easy to earn trust. Do you know the magic word to earn trust? The magic word is “help.” It’s pretty easy. People trust someone who’s genuinely trying to help them and they don’t trust someone who’s trying to hurt them.
If you say to your customer, “If you don’t do this, here’s what’s going to happen,” it can sound like a threat and destroys trust, even if you’re trying to help the person. In every interaction with your customer, remember this basic rule: Offering to help earns trust.