Chris Cowen of Auger says customers have a right to expect more from their insurers and their approved suppliers when they most need them. Through people and technology, it is now possible to help forge relationships - and find solutions - for all concerned in the process of a claim in the drainage and water mains sector. Why shouldn’t the customer expect a choice in how they communicate to make a claim? Customers, we should not forget, are people, and they may well feel vulnerable when their drains are blocked or their water stops running. Some people may want information on email, others online, through an app or a simple phone call. Indeed, customers expect 24/7 access to their account status, service arrangements and advice. Other service sectors such as retail, finance and hospitality have adapted rapidly to provide multi-channel information about all of these things. When it comes to using insurance and starting the process of a claim, they don’t want to be faced with a complex process, delayed phone calls and little or no outcome when they eventually get through to their insurer or supplier. In the field of water mains and drainage, neither do they want to wait around for an engineer, and then find one was never going to arrive until the following day anyway. They simply want to know what is happening and when and their options from the service experts. In research conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, insurance CEOs expressed their concerns themselves over regulation, the pace of technological change, shifting customer behaviour and competition from new market entrants. It said that no other industry group of CEOs is as concerned about the threats to growth in these four areas. However, these executives had recognised the issues and were trying to catch up, prepared to look at the use of artificial intelligence and digital technologies to support customer service. It concluded that where insurers work in partnership with technology, they improve processes, increase efficiencies and reduce costs. Ultimately, it is about building trust, and not even technology can solve that alone. From the first point of contact, the experience should be swift and seamless. From the insurer, to the account manager to the engineer on the ground, the information should be quickly available for the customer. We even provide an app in Uber-style tracking to let the customer know where the engineer is an estimated time of arrival, and there is the option of a chatbot for the customer to ask questions online. There are also new ways of approaching claims in drainage and water mains issues. Working with the insurer, one simple way is for us to offer the customer the opportunity to use the insurer’s average investigation or repair costs towards replacing the customer’s entire water supply pipe. This often takes the process to a different level, with a subsidised replacement very often the outcome rather than a limited repair which inevitably involves further leaks and costs to all parties further down the line. Using technology and well-trained people – and some new ways of working – the insurance industry in this sector can prove it cares and help to restore the trust of the most important group of people in the whole process, the customer. Chris Cowen is Client Relationship Manager for Auger, leaders in drainage and water mains claims across the UK. ENDS.