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Is Your Caims Department Becoming A Bus Company?

Are you going through the motions and can’t seem to get out of the traffic circle?

Seth Godin, author of well known business books such as the Purple Cow and Linchpin, recently wrote in his blog about companies Becoming a Bus Company. As he noted, “We all have a vision of the typical bus company, slowly moving people from place to place, going through the motions and showing a lot of fatigue.” Seth points out that companies fall into a place where they start acting like bus companies which becomes evident when the some of the following begins to happen:

  • Aging equipment in need of a functional and design refresh
  • Tired staff, punching the time clock
  • By the book mentality, with no room for humanity or initiative
  • Treating all customers the same (poorly) and knowing (and caring) little or nothing about them
  • Attitude that tomorrow will be just like today

Recognize any of the above? Claims departments can, and do, fall into the same traps where it feels like they can’t get out of the same old routine.

Here are three suggestions to break up the bus company mentality and help make the organization stronger:

  1. Closing Day – Spend a day dedicated to closing files or looking for closing opportunities. The idea here is not to work the files, but to glance through them quickly and see if there are any files that can be closed. Even with the best diary systems in place, there are always files that some how didn’t get closed. Whether it’s a file that had a statute of limitation expire, or one that had been denied with no appeal, dedicating time to focus on closings only will pay dividends. Not only does this type of day break up the normal routine, it can result in a reduced pending, the lowering of reserves and feelings of accomplishment.
  2. Take a poll to find the roadblocks– Ask your claims staff for the top 5 issues that they feel make their jobs difficult. Is it a system problem? Is it an inability to get information from other departments? Or maybe there is a process that is not adding any value, but is taking up much of a handler’s time. You will of course receive the standard complaints, but if you dig into those complaints you might find a common theme that could be correctable. If you have never asked you may be surprised to learn of a roadblock that can easily be removed to make the handler’s jobs easier. You will also benefit from learning more from your claims professionals and giving them the opportunity to be part of a solution.
  3. War Story Lunch – Claim handlers love to tell war stories so why not give them a forum to let loose and share the information. The experience and teachings learned from war stories can be used as a training tool to make the department stronger. Invite claims handlers to lunch and have each claims professional bring a story of success or failure from their past. Claim handlers can use that information to promote out-of-the-box thinking and learn new ways of handling future problems. Want to get even more from the process? Invite underwriters to come and listen – maybe they will learn a thing or two about the risks they are writing.

Changing the way things are looked at and done in a given day will promote new ways of looking at old problems, and will keep your department fresh. Tired staff, punching the time clock attitudes, or by the book mentality, with no room for initiative is a sure way to become a bus company.

How do you stay off the bus and stay out of the traffic circle?

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