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ABI panel says service levels risking industry reputation

The Association of British Insurers’ customer impact panel is warning that poor customer service standards at providers could damage the reputation of the whole industry.

The panel’s annual survey has revealed a number of weak areas, including complaint handling. The number of policyholders who felt their complaint had been managed badly rose to 57 per cent from 50 per cent the previous year.

The panel says while some firms are making progress, the survey shows “how far some are falling short, putting at risk the industry’s reputation”.

Another area where standards have dropped is the information and service given when a product is bought, with 53 per cent of customers rating this highly down from 57 per cent last year. Written communication is also an area where the panel believes the industry needs to do more, as the survey shows these communications are not always effective in prompting consumers to take action.

The panel has called on the ABI to look again at its customer impact scheme to ensure it is aligned with the FSA’s treating customers fairly initiative.

Chairwoman Melanie Johnson says: “The scheme’s long-term objective is to improve outcomes for customers and the good work that has started must be built upon to achieve this. We are recommending firms review their complaint handling processes to ensure improvements continue and that the valuable insights that complaints provide are captured and acted upon.”

ABI director general Stephen Haddrill says: “We value the panel’s input on the areas where we need to improve. We will work with our members in coming months to implement its recommendations.”

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