A Perspective on 4 Years of Experience in Insurance

Three months isn't a long time really, a quick Google reveals that three months is a reasonable amount of time to give a new idea a chance, to assess a situation, product deployment or the effect of an event. It seems that three months is  a de facto minimum for gaining perspective.

In that regard I'm quite pleased to be writing this blog entry three months on from leaving The Company. The Company can now be revealed as Norwich Union Insurance. I worked there for four years, commuting (painfully) from Ipswich, then Chelmsford and finally spending my last 6 months walking to work from a kind friend's flat. In that time I progressed from graduate scheme new-boy, through customer experience consultant to Usability and Analytics manager and final to User Experience Architect. I then felt, and as it happens it was kind-of mutual, that it was time to move on.

I have a very high opinion for what NU are trying to acheive. The old way of selling insurance has gone, a new way - pile it high and sell it cheap online, has also begun to die and the newest way - bring back the advice, quality and protection, is emerging. Unfortunately all this has meant that the back-end systems and processes have had to adapt fast and when you're rooted in 18th Century Norwich rather than the agile origins of telephone insurance in Croydon (Direct Line) this is easier said than done. At the end of the day, re-skinning a website, courting the increasingly highwayman-like aggregators and affiliates, and ultimately making your volume product unprofitable was not going to cut it. 

But: The systems are changing, the processes are being fixed by a team of genuinely visionary people that exist from bottom to top in the organisation and this takes time. A major internal IT project has, for example, crippled the agility of the business for the last two years and sucked every Exceed developer out of Europe but - coming out the other side - NU will be better for it.

Customers want, and expect today, to be able to see why their insurance is as expensive as it is, to change it at will - add drivers, upgrade courtesy cars, change addresses when they want. More importantly though they want to know that when they need their cover that claims will be dealt with courteously and efficiently. Sadly, despite countless initiatives and a huge amount of desire and investment, this still isn't working. Whilst TV appearances for the fraud team create great frothy PR, this dissolves away quickly and what is left behind is the kind of raw, unfettered and persistent displeasure visible on The Review Centre.

They're still listening, I know, and initiatives like Zuzzid and a thoughtful consolidation and partial u-turn on the use of Asian contact centres for the most difficult service requirements will, ultimately, help. A new dawn is coming (almost certainly with a re-brand and the final sweeping-aside of the regional marque) and with that I hope for my passionate friends and former colleagues that the company returns to winnning ways.

For me, my life has re-located to london, my role to one of the UK's brightest digital agencies and I look forward to blogging more about Ux, IA and the myriad of socio-cultural ephemera that has always interested me and burns that little bit brighter in the world's most creative city.

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