Posted by David Nash, supply chain controller at Litigation Futures Associate Allianz Legal Protection
Corporate governance is a core responsibility of businesses, particularly those subject to complex law and regulation such as the legal and insurance sectors. As a legal expenses insurance provider, we have a duty of care to our customers throughout the lifetime of their policies, so governance forms a fundamental part of what we do.
The approach we take has been developed over years to ensure good customer outcomes, so we’ve created a guide with key considerations.
The supply chain covers all third parties that work with a business. For us, this includes our panel of solicitors for before-the-event (BTE) insurance and associated partners, such as specialist claims advisers, costs lawyers, medical services suppliers and barristers. When providing a service for us, they are representing our brand.
As a starting point, it’s therefore really important to consider how a supplier aligns to your brand and how they will deliver in line with your values.
During the tender process, which can also include potential renewals with existing parties, suppliers are assessed against criteria so that aspects of their service can be compared. This is to see if they would or will continue to be a good fit.
Areas to review may include: experience in the field; operational functionality; customer care; mission, culture and values; financial security; business continuity; data protection and regulation; and management information.
When assessing potential and existing suppliers, asking yourself the overarching question of ‘how does all of this suit our customers’ needs?’ provides a solid perspective to make decisions on suitability. At Allianz Legal Protection (ALP), once we agree to work with a supplier, we enter into a formal contract with service level agreements in place for the duration of the contract.
We work with around 35 suppliers, so this requires a substantial amount of monitoring throughout the time of our relationship with them. This includes monthly reporting, quarterly review meetings, auditing and root cause analysis on complaints.
Taking an account management approach helps us to remain close to our suppliers to maintain positive and proactive relationships and to ensure our customers receive a great service.
Acting on feedback
We strongly believe that customer feedback drives improvement and therefore we take it very seriously across all areas of our business, including the suppliers we work with. We proactively look for feedback at all appropriate touch points with our customers, including undertaking root cause analysis of complaints and using customer satisfaction questionnaires, the results of which are regularly reviewed with suppliers.
If we spot something early, steps can be taken to rectify an issue quickly, so being proactive and responsive is key.
In short, you must consider: what you’re going to measure to accurately; monitor how your customers are being served; what feedback mechanisms can be incorporated and acted upon; and how you build a solid, proactive relationships with your suppliers – all of these are vital if you are going to ensure your customer’s needs are being fulfilled.
The big picture
Ultimately, customers should receive a quality and consistent level of services across every aspect of dealing with a business. If you can get the governance right, then in turn the customer should have a good experience with each supplier whilst positively reflecting your brand. Therefore effective supply chain management is a key.