The Hastings Group, founded in 1996, is one of the UK’s leading general insurance providers, with over 2.7 million live customer policies and employing over 3500 employees across three UK offices in Bexhill-on-Sea, Leicester and London. Their approach to growth is simple: embracing technology and driving digital transformation to support business growth and staff development. The FCA’s recent complaints data revealed that from July 2018 until December 2018, Hastings Insurance Services dealt with 28,768 complaints, with 65% of cases being closed within three days and a further 34.3% within the eight week FCA timeframe.
Build or Buy?
Prior to implementing Aptean Respond, Hastings Direct worked from an in-house complaints management solution. This proved ineffective at handling complaints, providing no workflow management, little management information (MI) and limited analytics capability. As a result, complaints either got lost or went unanswered, as handlers struggled to track cases. As such, inefficiency continued and Hastings Direct began to run the risk of regulatory breach and potential fines. “We had little assurance if the regulator reviewed our cases. We weren’t able to demonstrate robust complaint management,” said James Tattersall, head of customer relations and quality assurance. Unable to provide any accuracy or transparency, Tattersall decided to overhaul Hasting Direct’s complaints management system.
Decision to go with Aptean Respond
Before implementing Respond, Tattersall managed the business process of ensuring all people, process, training and competencies were properly aligned. The fundamentals needed to be in place to build a strong foundation from which software could be used for growth.
Having spoken to a number of industry specialists, Tattersall engaged Aptean, whose offering was set apart from the rest by their industry knowledge and willingness to work as partners. “What separates a good company from an average one is whether the relationship is progressively maintained and proactively built upon,” he said. “From the very start, I felt Hastings Direct and Aptean were in a partnership, as opposed to a buyer-supplier relationship. For me, that’s a game changer. I’ve never really experienced that before.”
Implementation of Aptean Respond in SaaS
Hastings Direct took a pragmatic approach when implementing Respond SaaS. It was first used by the central complaints team in customer relations and then gradually rolled out across the business to frontline users and management. “We didn’t want to rush into anything before ensuring training programmes were completed,” said Tattersall, who credits Hastings Direct’s success to a continued focus on strong customer service foundations.
Overall, the roll out process went smoothly, picking up quite a bit of pace with no barriers or pockets of resistance threatening implementation success. The success of the implementation is attributed both to the software usability and the Aptean Respond team, who Tattersall credits as “part of the reason we chose Aptean”. He continues: “They understand the world of complaints in a way that is really refreshing. The team seemed to get it from day one. We asked for quite a few demonstrations; it just amazed me that they were so willing to talk about, share and show Respond. It was like sitting down and talking with a colleague.”
Benefits of using Aptean Respond
When reflecting on the benefits of using Respond, Tattersall describes the system as “the gift that just keeps giving; continuously driving change and allowing us to get to the detail quickly”. With Respond, the user arrives at their desk and immediately see their allocated cases. They have a clear understanding of their workload and can prioritise their day accordingly. The timeline function also provides up-to-date information on each case, allowing team leaders to assess the number of complaints on the frontline, their age, number of team members and if a specific case needs to be allocated to a certain handler based on their strengths.
“This MI has been critical, with interactive dashboards displaying the above information in an easily digestible format,” said Tattersall. “We use the Respond data to inform all areas of the business. It is an intrinsic part of how we monitor and report on the complaints department. We supply the Board with the output data, use it to complete our regulatory returns and drive improvements off the back of our reports.”
In recent months, the greatest benefit to Hastings Direct has been address validation. Prior to Respond, the organisation was manually recording customer data. Today, the system automatically records data for the handler, reducing the risk of being in breach of data protection and sending mail to the wrong address. This not only results in better customer service, but also contributes to staff morale, as call handlers are able to progress their workload without the stress of an inefficient system.
Avoid Reputational Damage
“What we set out to achieve, we have achieved,” Tattersall concludes. “The system has provided the efficiencies and the effectiveness we were looking for. We have cut out an enormous amount of dead time in our processes and can work through complaints at a higher rate. Now, we could show the regulator our Respond dashboard, evidence our compliance and avoid reputational damage. Respond ensures visibility, transparency and accurate tracking at all times.”
Looking ahead, Tattersall asserts that he is excited for the future of Respond: “Self-Serve and Respond Survey modules will be hugely beneficial to our business. Such releases underline Aptean’s commitment to evolving with the industry as they continue to keep their finger on the pulse and adapt to the ever changing complaints landscape.
Like many companies, Hastings Direct stays focused on putting the consumer at the heart of the process, ensuring that every part of the complaint journey is accounted for and considered, with the goal of providing the best possible customer experience.