Ask Darren Trott to share a defining moment in his 35-year insurance career, and it would likely be this: standing in the driveway of a home that’s been completely destroyed by bushfire, hugging the owner, both of them in tears. When Trott, Construct Services’ national manager clients and relationships, talks about customer-centricity, it’s more than a brand aspiration. It’s a deeply entrenched belief born of years at the coalface of loss and disaster.
As for Construct’s national operations manager, Aeron Rowe, his understanding of policyholder and client needs is founded on a lifetime of roles in the building industry, from carpenter through to project manager and building supervisor. As Construct’s regis-tered builder, with a licence across all states and territories, Rowe quite literally knows the nuts and bolts of delivering an exceptional customer experience.
It’s the marriage of these two different backgrounds and expertise that defines what Construct Services – the only national builder in Australia dedicated soley to the insurance industry – is all about.
“Our CEO, Andrew Annand, had the foresight to build a robust executive team, bringing together insurance building experi-ence and claims management experience, so we have a deeper understanding of the chal-lenges our clients and their customers face,” Trott says.
Construct Services deals with jobs big and small – across residential, strata, commer-cial, and major and complex claims. Trott was brought in 18 months ago in a national sales role, with a brief to help double the size of the business over the next couple of years. “Quite quickly, I saw the opportunity to work in partnership with Aeron,” he says, adding that his goal was “to turn Construct into the insurance builder I always wanted during my time as an insurance claims manager”. In other words, a builder he could trust to deliver a quality job, on time, but who would also work to minimise the impact of loss on the policyholder.
“Our industry focuses on costs, quality and claim life cycle, which are all very important, but dealing with property repairs is not just a process, not just a building job. Property damage impacts people’s lives” - Darren Trott, Construct Services
“Darren’s insurer focus has been pivotal in the way I have set things up,” says Rowe, who adds that he’s come to see claims not purely through a lens of getting the job done, but with “a more empathetic view, more aligned with what the customer expectations are”.
Those expectations, unfortunately, aren’t always being met across the wider insurance industry. “Whether you are at the front of the queue, being treated promptly and with fair-ness, or left languishing waiting for days or weeks for help shouldn’t depend on which insurer you’ve chosen or the builder they appoint,” Trott says. “There should be the ability for a broker to go, ‘I’m going to get a good outcome on any property claim because I’m going to use someone I can trust, someone focused on my client.”
Brokers are an integral part of the claims process, yet they’re all too frequently left out of the communication loop, Trott says. Partly to address this, Construct took an active role in the development of EnsureFlow soft-ware, which prepares and sends work orders to tradespeople.
“It allows the customer to be directly involved – they can send photos if they have concerns,” Trott says. “They can see their fi le. We allow brokers access to the software, which is live, so they can see that the carpenter has been assigned, the painter is next and so on. It gives them an element of control.”
But no amount of technology – or compet-itive pricing – can substitute for what Trott believes is central to the process: compassion.
“Our industry focuses on costs, quality and claim life cycle, which are all very impor-tant, but dealing with property repairs is not just a process, not just a building job,” he says. “Property damage impacts people’s lives. Being able to take a day o work when the tradespeople arrive, maybe having to fi nd alternative accommodation, getting the kids to school ... all that stu that I think, histor-ically, the insurance industry has been pretty poor at recognizing.”
“You can’t automate everything. We need to know how people are feeling or what they’re wanting, so if something isn’t right, they can pick up the phone and speak with someone” - Aeron Rowe, Construct Services
So how do you eliminate these shortcom-ings, especially as natural disasters continue to become more frequent? For Construct, the key has been a business model that is adaptable, agile and future-focused. Virtual inspection technology, already a part of the company’s operations, came into its own during lockdown.“Insurers and builders were scrambling and saying, ‘Oh no, how are we going to inspect property damage when we can’t send people out?’” Trott says. “They had to fi nd the technology, trial it, but we were already using it. Virtual inspection is rapid, safe and e cient, and insured customers have really enjoyed the interactivity – it’s put them in control of showing us the trouble spots.”
Communication is also vital, Trott says, and it’s not a ‘one size fi ts all’ remedy. “What about when you’re dealing with an 80-year-old who doesn’t have email? Or someone who will only communicate via text? We have to adapt to what people need with multiple communica-tion channels. We have SMS, people on site, a customer care flipbook we send to every new insured customer when they make a claim that sets out what is going to happen next.”
With tools like virtual inspection technology ideally suited to pandemic-ravaged areas over-seas, why not expand beyond the domestic market? The answer is not just that Construct doesn’t need to, but that doing so would undermine its very strengths. “
Insurers want the level of service the mum-and-dad builder can deliver, but they want that across the country,” Trott explains. “Traditionally, no one has been able to do that. That’s our sweet spot – we are nimble enough to adapt quickly to our clients’ needs, yet large enough to provide consistent quality outcomes anywhere in the country. We don’t want to be so big that quality and service get compromised.”
This is all part of “thinking like an insur-ance company”, Trott says, and giving the market choice. Construct aims to grow rela-tionships with brokers and underwriters and to continue its investment in major and complex claims, an area where the company now has experts in each state.
Construct is also continuing to invest in technology – in addition to EnsureFlow and virtual inspections, another innovation due for release soon is an Uber-style insured customer care app.
“It’s a great communication tool which enables the policyholder to see what the next step in their claims process is,” Trott says. “It’s something we’d love to see brokers be able to o er their customers.”
But while tech advances like these are “fantastic”, Rowe says, there’s a line that gets blurred sometimes. “You can’t automate everything. We need to know how people are feeling or what they’re wanting, so if some-thing isn’t right, they can pick up the phone and speak with someone. Our make-safe call centre is there 24/7. We are trying to expand all those pathways – make them bigger and faster with better touchpoints.”
It’s all part of building a reputation as a trusted problem-solver – and, says Trott, “doing that in a way that takes the insured customer on that journey, supports the broker and preserves that relationship”.