During busy seasons or natural catastrophes, restoration companies can see their workforces double or triple with an influx of temporary workers. Combine that with paper-based processes and insurer demands for faster and more accurate reporting, and you get immense pressure on restoration companies to modernize their operations. Adding to the pressure are increased customer expectations; policyholders expect a seamless experience with little inconvenience when they file a claim. To keep up, restoration firms need to modify their operational models to mirror the customer-centric services of Amazon, Uber and other market disrupters.
Paul Donald, CEO of Encircle, believes that restoration firms can become more customer-focused by adopting a transparent, trust-driven operational model. This operational model can help restoration companies improve their customers’ experience while reducing their liabilities and increasing their capacity through better utilization of their resources. Restoration companies employing this new operational model can also lower cycle times, exceed key performance indictors (KPIs), write more accurate and timely estimates and increase their Net Promoter Scores.
Donald defines a transparent, trust-driven operational model as one in which all parties to a claim are engaged in a real-time visual workflow. This transparent workflow breaks down barriers in communication, eliminating ambiguity and uncertainty to speed up and increase the accuracy of decision making. “The adoption of this model is straightforward as long as firms are not trying to put a digital veneer over old, broken processes,” Donald says.
Steps for Leveraging a New Operational Model
- Complete an honest evaluation of current workflows to identify inefficiencies and the changes needed to proactively manage the business.
- Eliminate paper-based, disconnected workflows that slow down communication among field staff, office staff and adjusters.
- Leverage technology that can put all parties to the claim on the same page and engage them in a real-time, visual workflow.
- Train all staff on how to maximize the new technology on a daily basis.
Once adopted, restoration contractors can capture visual details from policyholders, enabling office staff to prioritize claim response and establish customer expectations at the start of each job. Visual data not only provides contractors with a sense of the severity of every claim and loss, but also allows them to determine the equipment and resources needed. Donald says this, in turn, reduces contractors’ liabilities as they can proactively plan their mitigation strategy before arriving on-site.
In addition, technology like Encircle reduces the need for back-and-forth communication with adjusters as it enables adjusters to be on the front lines with contractors, reviewing photos, documents, scopes and estimates through the platform. There’s no longer a need to delay work while the contractor relays details and status updates to adjusters. “A transparent, trust-driven operational model can bridge the gap between insurers and restoration contractors by sharing visual data and reports in real time,” he adds.
Benefits of Transparent, Trust-Driven Operational Models
- Reduces liabilities by providing contractors with visual documentation so they can avoid paying for pre-existing damage and giving them remote insight into losses.
- Technology streamlines administrative tasks associated with timely and accurate estimates and reduces the variability to less than 5%. Far less estimates are now being rejected by carriers and TPAs.
- Creates a partnership between the restoration firm, customer and insurer by harmonizing everyone’s understanding of the loss.
- Facilitates trust between contractors and insurers, helping to reduce cycle times and improve KPIs and Net Promoter Scores.
FireStar Inc. (part of Parker-Young companies), a full-service mitigation company, has leveraged Encircle’s technology to improve its operations. “To facilitate transparency with policyholders, insurers and their team, FireStar uses Encircle Link to get work authorizations signed by the policyholder remotely and gain remote visibility into a loss before they’re on-site. This allows them to proactively manage their resources and reduce liabilities,” Donald says. Derrick Baldree, general manager of FireStar Inc., adds, “it has really helped us after hours because we’re able to see what we are walking into. And it tells me if I need to send two guys or if I need to send ten guys.” Encircle has also helped FireStar reduce the back and forth with the adjusters as they are able to send adjusters customized reports that illustrate the severity of the loss and show the work that has been completed, with the documentation required to support their final estimate.
Insurance carriers expect contractors to run their businesses efficiently and effectively, and they will not pay for contractors’ inefficiencies. Restoration contractors may face pushback from PMs and techs as they transition to a more transparent operational model, but they can counter that resistance by explaining what’s in it for them, Donald advises. Encircle’s baseline workflow for restoration contractors can provide a tangible starting point, as a real-time visual workflow removes any guesswork from first notice of loss to the closing of a claim. Building trust and understanding among all parties to a claim leads to improved margins, KPIs and Net Promoter Scores for the restoration firm, and, ultimately, more business. Donald adds that once contractors start to implement change, they will need to manage and coach their staff to ensure the best and most consistent results.
This article was shared in C&R with the permission of the Restoration Industry Association.