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Tom Baigrie: In defence of client call recording

Tom Baigrie

I am a great fan of call recording. My firm was an early adopter, in part because we heard much about the ombudsman’s propensity to give clients the benefit of the doubt in a dispute over who said what to whom. We also recognised the huge training benefits that come from listening to yourself speak.

In our business, any claim denied for non-disclosure reasons is a likely referral to the ombudsman. The amounts are generally large and the need for them great.

Such a dispute puts an intense focus on the application process, and assurances from well-meaning advisers and tele-interviewers are frankly much less convincing than the distress and anger of a customer denied. Call recording aids objectivity by making the facts of the case much clearer.

One of three things happen as soon as the tapes are played:

  • The insurer accepts it was its questions that caused the non-disclosure and pays
  • We accept it was the way we asked or failed to ask the questions and we pay
  • The customer listens to the words and gives up their claim.

Very few cases end up remaining debatable. So I would urge all advisers to record all calls, and meetings too. The technology available is good and not expensive, either. In a litigious and unsympathetically regulated age, it is money well spent. Used right, it will also improve your business and behaviours too.

In the protection market, there is a wider benefit beyond these obvious professional ones. In my recent outings in this column I have been trying to convince you that an overwhelming focus on how we treat claimants is the best way of growing our market.

We need to keep improving not only the proportion of claims paid, but also the clarity, consistency and logic of how that number is achieved and the publicity we generate about it. Beyond that, we should be striving for a position where no honest claimant feels unfairly treated. Recorded conversations help that.

The bereaved do not easily accept that the insured person they knew so well has intentionally not disclosed. But if they hear a recording of that very process happening, they are more likely to reconcile themselves to the situation.

What is more, when the evidence of a non-disclosure is plain for all to hear, those unpaid claims can be categorised separately so they do not affect the headline claims paid rate. After all, they are not caused by the insurer not paying what it should.

We need to get consumer understanding of claims statistics to a point where it is simply taken for granted that anything not fraudulent will be paid. There is a lot more to that than recording everything said during an application process but that is a base from which the rest can come. Anything else is just not fit for the 21st century customer.

Tom Baigrie is chief executive of LifeSearch

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. It absolutely makes sense for your business. However, for firms that do not enter into business or place deals over the phone, this is a waste of time and money. Recording the call where the appointment is made but not the appointment where the advice is given is pointless.

  2. We’ve recorded our phone calls for at least 8 years. It’s only once been useful to refute something a client told us, but had “forgotten” later on. It has however more than paid for itself in being able to play back to insurance companies something they told us, and later on denied completely. So it’s not just protecting you against clients, but the lying ******** insurance companies!

  3. Got to say I 100% agree with Tom and disagree with Adam Bell- we have done it for 4 years on all client discussions phone, videocknference and FTF and there is hardly any cost but the benefits are massive- from complaints through to compliance, paraplanning, training, recalling, client benefit, supplementing client files etc etc- the benefits are overwhelming and usually only fear preventing it?

  4. 100% agree with Tom.
    We’ve recorded all phone calls since 2004 and client meetings since 2007. Some don’t record properly, but that is unusual. I also agree with Adam Bell, even MORE useful with Dinoseur life companies and I’ve even got an apology out of the FCA for a staff member thinking he’d disconnected a call and referring to me when speaking to his colleague as an ******* (I am assertive and demanding at times I accept, but rarely rude and invariably explain at the end of any exchange it was nothing personal). Quiet a few diniseurs staff will slam the phone down and refuse to speak to assertive people, but then have to back track when it is shown that one has not been rude or shouted, but has instead been assertive.
    Recording also makes us more thoughtfull of both what we say and how we say it and really does assist with training and observed meetings as the observed can observe and critic themselves and all a supervisor does is tease out what the individual KNOWS they have done both well, but needs to improve.
    We used to use physical ohone recording, but BT cloud recording systems are now available too, which looks likely to revolutionize usage. Previously we used Skype, but we’re now reverting to BT probably.

  5. I completely agree that call recording works, especially for confirmation of external dialogue.

    It is also a great training tool when used properly, internally. As a former Adviser at LifeSearch, I have experienced this tool used poorly as a training method. Fairly recently, I was working with LifeSearch and the Team Manager would often listen to calls and reference them when ‘helping’ their team achieve success.

    The issue was, the Manager (who I won’t mention) would listen to a call and then ask me, what the **** was that? If I knew what I had done wrong, I wouldn’t have said it in the first place would I?

    When I would ask the Manager what they felt I had done wrong and how I could improve, they would respond by simply telling me *it’s worrying that I don’t know, and I should know*. Never did they sit and help me, never did they point me in the right direction.

    So yes, I agree that call recording is good. LifeSearch however, could certainly use it better. If you’re not exceeding target, the Manager’s have no time for you. Unless you’re confident in your ability to not hit, but substantially exceed sales targets, I would suggest avoiding LifeSearch. They’re money hungry and don’t do much to raise staff morale at all.

    • Anthony Andreoli 4th March 2017 at 6:49 pm

      You seem to have had a bad experience Anonymous, but having been with LifeSearch for four years, experiencing both highs and lows, never have I failed to be supported and helped.

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