Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Starting on the wrong foot...

Over the weekend, some kind person hit my car while it was parked, causing quite a lot of damage. I mention this for two reasons. Firstly there is always a (I admit very slight) chance that the fine person who hit me (I was parked on a Sunday on a quiet street in EC4, City of London) simply forgot to leave their name and contact details and so will take this opportunity to get in touch.

Secondly, it means that I have been in contact with my insurer. To be honest, it wasn't something that I was looking forward to because in the past (and with other insurance companies, I should add) communication has been difficult.

I'm insured with Sheila's Wheels (mostly for my wife's amusement - she likes the idea of me having to tell people that). I called the claims line and got a recorded message asking me to confirm that I could answer "yes" to four questions - all to do with making fraudulent claims. Having done that I spoke with a very pleasant chap who dealt with everything efficiently, politely and quickly. 

It was, however, an unfortunate start to a relationship or a communication. Like most insured people, I have no intention of making a fraudulent claim and feel a little aggrieved that this is the first thing that is mentioned. I understand that it is perhaps something that they need to get out of the way - but there must be a better way of starting a phone call - particularly when it is a claims line which means that anyone calling is likely to be a little upset already.

The same happens (or should happen...) in barristers' chambers. the Bar Standards Board require sets to write to the lay client - in every case, and at the beginning of the case - to explain the complaints procedure should they wish to make a claim. Again - I understand that the BSB are trying to make it easy for ordinary people to be able to complain about a professional. It is, however, a very unfortunate star: "Hello, sir. I'm your barrister, Mr. Blair. If you want to complain about me, this is how to do it".

In this day and age of technology, there must be a better way. Surely every case could be centrally logged (automatically from the firm or chambers case management system) with a single reference number (on a card with a QR or bar code perhaps), from which the client can access information about every person (solicitor, barrister, case worker, etc) who has dealt with their case. Quick, simple, and it avoids starting off on the wrong foot.

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