Brightside’s virtual customer contact operation is operating seamlessly this week, according to Group CEO Brendan McCafferty, who was speaking after the broker completed the final stages of its move to a virtual working environment in the space of six weeks after starting planning for coronavirus eight weeks ago.
He said: “All our staff are working from home and the offices will effectively be shut for the duration of the crisis in the next few days.”
Brendan said that the team spent much of last week making fixes to improve call quality and system issues which were inevitable following such a major operational change.
He said: “Richard Beaven, COO, and his team have done an amazing job and have moved the last few people out of the offices (Bristol, Torquay and Southampton) and into working from home this week. I want to pay tribute to all our people, and especially our technology and change teams who’ve pulled out all the stops to make this happen.”
Health and well-being
He added: “We have also paid particular attention to the health and wellbeing of our people as it will take us some time to settle into this new way of working, a change I’m convinced will improve our culture for the better.” Brendan added that the group had deployed a collaborative working tool which has delivered significant benefits to 100s of employees that are using it.
“We are communicating all the time to respond to the experiences of our staff in their new way of working, so we’re in the best physical and mental shape to deliver for our customers. We are making all sorts of help available including coaching and counselling, using expert external help.”
Brendan said that offline calls for sales, renewals and servicing personal lines were all meeting their SLA targets with 90%+ completion. “Online is holding up well, especially account servicing. We have a little more tweaking to do to get both sales and renewals to the level I would like, but this reflects the massively complex task of moving to virtual working on laptops, softphones, new telephony infrastructure and new equipment.”
“We are also reviewing all our systems and controls to double check they remain robust and reliable with this new way of working. I take comfort that our complaints levels remain very low after improving a lot in recent months.”
“Our SME business and niche and home portfolios are trading as planned. I’m especially pleased renewals are holding up despite the disruption, with some customers having to cancel due to the crisis.”
Brendan said that special measures had been put in place to support customers, especially for renewals. He said that approximately 10,000 doctors, nurses and health professionals are Brightside customers, but he also cited thousands more volunteers providing support to those most vulnerable, as well as people who work in car manufacturing, for example, and are now making ventilators.
“Every day, people are supporting vulnerable loved ones. We must not forget that people rely on us for their car, van, home and business insurance needs and often the customers we work for find it hard to find alternative mainstream insurance solutions.”
“We need to be there to protect them, so we have taken a number of steps to help our customers through this difficult time. These include making material changes to our use of contractual fees and we have gone further with NHS workers.”
Other moves include:
Making sure volunteers and key workers are insured as they support the Covid-19 response.
Brendan commented: “We are reassuring customers that their insurance will cover them if they are using their car to help their local community during this time and we are advising SME customers about cover related issues, notably Business Interruption.
Customers with insurance related debt are given help.
“Our customer-facing staff are working with patience and empathy in light of requests by customers for help with their vital and ongoing insurance needs.”
Brendan said that a key task for the management team during the next phase will be the health, safety and wellbeing of the Brightside team, which he termed the ‘nobody is left behind’ approach.
He said that includes daily communications to each member of staff to check on their welfare, and advice on how to best manage remote working, including taking breaks from screens, and avoiding an ‘always on’ working culture so that people had time to manage other priorities including childcare.
“Taking time off work is so important, to ensure people can fully switch-off and recharge their batteries without the pressure of taking calls or replying to emails.”
Brendan says he is also excited about the step change the crisis has produced for Brightside and its transformative ability now to work entirely more flexibly, to the benefit of customers, staff and the business. “It was always our intention to move to a model like this and we have dramatically accelerated that now.”
In addition, Insurers have been in constant touch and we are working with them and other key partners to respond to changing customer needs and circumstances in a timely manner.”
Brendan concluded: “The insurance industry has come under intense media and political scrutiny for its response to covid-19, but Brightside, along with many of our peers and competitors, has made huge changes to our businesses in order to give our customers, especially key workers, the peace of mind that their insurance needs are taken care of.”