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Service is top priority for NU

Insurer brings in training and development to improve its service standard levels and increase response rates

Norwich Union says it is 100 per cent committed to improving service standards after accepting that its processes have been flawed.

The firm says it has placed service at the top of its list of priorities, ahead of company morale and profits.

Last November, former chief executive Gary Withers issued a personal apology to 35,000 advisers, explaining why the service levels in protection and investment bond application processes had slipped. Withers, who quit this year, made a commitment to look at NU’s internal systems to improve service to IFAs.

Distribution director David Barral says that the company has reviewed its processes, brought in training and development for staff and realigned remuneration based on distribution feedback, from senior management to support staff.

It has also recruited a team of 30 staff dedicated to branch enquiries in a bid to ensure consistency of service and quicker response.

Barral says complications in the underwriting procedures meant that the protection sector took the hardest hit but turn-round times on applications have been improving steadily since September.

Barral believes that as the industry becomes more competitive, service will become the differentiating factor between product providers and he says that no one can afford to be complacent.

He says: “We want to ensure that sales and service are joined up. We have realigned our remuneration from the board right down to ground level. I think we have got much better and more accurate resource planning.”

SimplyBiz managing dir-ector Ian Thorneycroft says: “Everyone can complain, but this was one of the biggest mergers to have taken place, so it was inevitable it would have problems. Sadly, in our industry, if you get a bad reputation for anything, it tends to stick with you for long after it has been cured.”

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