Crawford’s Jupp: Employers must “re-examine” empathy towards employees to benefit customer experience

Employers must cultivate a culture of empathy towards employees so that they are able to support customers to the best of their ability, Crawford & Company’s Alister Jupp has said.

Crawford’s managing director, UK and Ireland spoke to The Insurer TV about the need for a work environment which is conducive to the best service for clients.

Claims management companies face customers undergoing difficult times every day, and therefore it is essential that employees’ workplace conditions are carefully cultivated to ensure the best possible customer experience, according to Jupp.

“We see people often at the worst time in their lives, when potentially they’ve lost everything, and our people need to be there to show empathy and support,” he said, with the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian being a very live example of this. 

“But it’s also vital that we provide that support to our own people so they’re in the best position to be able to help our customers and clients,” Jupp added.

Jupp noted that employers must “re-examine how they show empathy” to their employees and realign their goals accordingly.

Global challenges have further highlighted the need for empathy towards employees. For instance, the Covid-19 pandemic brought significant operational challenges for businesses, forcing them to adapt to new ways of working.

“We also need to look at our leadership. We changed from an office-based environment to a homeworking-type of place and the management for that is different – you need a lot more empathy as a leader to be able to pick up those soft signals as to whether people need help and assistance,” Jupp added.

The cost of living crisis has also added a significant burden on employees, underlining the need for flexibility in the workplace.

These significant changes in the workplace have also shone a light on the need for technology, as well as the sourcing of soft skills to come together. This is the focus of a Crawford report entitled Empathy + Technology, looking at how these can impact an organisation and its customers. 

According to the report, the relevance of soft skills has been enhanced by the increasing complexity of the work claims adjusters conduct, which can “take a toll on an employee”.

“Without the proper training and preparation, it can easily lead to burnout, which can not only affect the worker, but their customers as well,” the report said.

A helping hand from technology

It is a well-established fact that technology can support businesses in numerous ways. According to Jupp, technology can also facilitate a culture of empathy that will ultimately result in superior customer experience.

One way in which it can help is throughout the claims-handling process, where automation and the digitalisation of claims can speed things up.

For instance, technology can support the expedition of low-impact claims where the most important factor is the speed of settlement.

There is “very little embedded ownership” in these types of claims, where automation can help provide the customer a swift resolution, Jupp noted.

Larger claims, on the other hand, can benefit from the use of technology to accelerate the claims payment process.

Jupp pointed out there have been studies showing that “the human touch is really important” in handling large claims as they have a more significant impact on customers.

“The higher value claims, which have a high impact on our customers [is] where we use technology to support our adjusters in the field … So instead of spending lots of time gathering data, they spend more time on the customer aspects providing empathy and support,” Jupp added.

In this nine-minute interview, Jupp provides colour on the following topics:

  • How workplace dynamics have changed and affected employee wellbeing
  • The rising problem of burnout and how it is increasingly affecting the workplace
  • The Great Resignation adding to the industry’s talent drought challenge
  • Demonstrating empathy towards the customer in an automated environment
  • The human aspect of claims-handling