I wasn’t good at learning on management courses, but I did once write down and remember this list
- Acknowledge your mistakes. Never try to cover up or blame others for what went wrong. …
- Learn from your mistakes. Once you learn from your mistakes, don’t repeat them.
- Teach others from your mistakes. …
- Move beyond your mistakes.
Legal & General made a mistake –
They failed to plan for the impact of lockdown – and found themselves unable to support a telephone helpline – even for vulnerable customers . I spoke with Emma Douglas, Head of DC Solutions at LGIM about this and she has written to me confirming our conversation.
When we needed to send staff home for their own safety we had to make a key decision on the helpline, given that the previous business continuity plans (two sites in Cardiff plus a warm site in Bristol) would not work in the pandemic.
The decision we faced was whether to close the helpline down for a short period to ensure we could operate it in a safe and controlled way and focus on online support and outbound calls OR to keep it open but with the possibility of long wait times and high abandon rates. Market feedback is that the long wait times and high abandon rates is what customers were experiencing with a number of our competitors who did keep the lines open and in this case it could be argued that a poor service is worse than no service.
We took the decision to close, knowing this would be for a few days, and we were able to open our phone lines again from Monday 6th April, with a focus on taking calls from vulnerable customers in the first instance. We have increased the number of staff able to take calls over the rest of this week. Our biggest concern during the period when we had closed the helpline was how would customers, especially vulnerable customers, get in touch with us and so we made sure there was robust online support:
- We prioritised our Important and Critical processes which all relate to customers who either need a regular income or to access to their pension monies. In terms of financial vulnerability, this ensured that we were able to support customers who needed us most.
- As part of these Critical business processes, we ensured that the Sensitive Claims team had full home working capability including the ability to speak to customers/beneficiaries in their time of need. We also offered customers with serious ill health questions and/or a beneficiary notifying us of a death a more prominent trigger as to how to contact the team directly. We know these are not the only types of vulnerability but they are very significant ones and we wanted those customers to get direct access to the specialist teams trained to deal most effectively with their concerns and queries. The helpline message provided an email address for these customers, and they received a call back from a member of the team.
- For other financially sensitive processes we had SIPP trades and fund switches fully supported.
- The teams working from home were monitoring all contact, across all channels, to identify any other customers who could be vulnerable (and equally any urgent or sensitive requests) and deal with their request fully.
- If customers interacted via Manage Your Account, they could send us a Secure Message and we had laptop users at home who were able to sift for sensitive/vulnerable/urgent requests as a priority and were also able to process these requests
- If customers went online, they could also send an email to a Web Admin Mailbox and we had staff with laptops who were able to sift these requests and allocate them to the correct team to process.
- If customers were on Social Media and decided to message us, we had laptop users who were able to respond within an hour or so.
The DC team is working successfully from home.
- We are performing all money in / money out processes as normal – contribution processing, new joiners, payments out, switches.
- Implementation and Client Relationship Management teams are all working as usual – all are home based anyway. The Member communications team are all working successfully from home.
- We have worked tirelessly to keep our members, schemes and intermediaries fully updated through regular communications and have a whole range for Covid-19 information available throughout our member journey, including wellbeing advice
- All trading and dealing services are fully operational. Asset transitions are generally not going ahead due to market conditions but all are being re-planned for later in the year.
- All Teams have been working very hard over the period – many working round the clock to deliver service and support
- Feedback from clients and intermediaries is extremely positive about the service and support we have continued to give through this unprecedented period
It’s not for me to judge how well L&G has recovered from its mistake, but this statement suggests that L&G
- Acknowledge (their recovery plan was inadequate)
- Are learning (what vulnerable customers need)
- Are teaching ( themselves new ways of learning
- Are moving on ( I understand that they will be publicising their helplines are open after Easter)
It is now with Emma and her management team to ensure they meet future challenges better prepared. I’m grateful to her for putting L&G’s position on this matter for me to publish.