Will COVID Change The Way SMEs Operate?

Will COVID Change The Way SMEs Operate?

The outbreak of the Coronavirus and the instigation of lockdown were unprecedented events. They brought innumerable challenges to business of all shapes, sizes and functions and has changed the way we go about getting everything from food to insurance quotes.

As the restrictions are starting to lift and we get used to life in the ‘new normal’ we asked one of Coversure’s leading insurance brokers and owner of Coversure Hull, Coversure Grantham and Coversure in North Lincs, Andy Price how he had found it and whether he would be changing the way he works in future?

When did you go into lockdown?

We went into lockdown from close of business on 20th March, three days before the lockdown started.

How have you found working remotely – has it been difficult to adjust?

Business has been challenging during lockdown and we needed to adapt quickly to the new needs and concerns of our customers to ensure they continued to receive the help and advice they required. Thanks to having had support from Coversure and having a great team, we’ve managed to keep the business running as usual despite the unusual times. It hasn’t been easy. Without doubt there has been an increase in workloads to ensure that everyone has been looked after and there’s been a slight downturn in new business. However, I’m confident this will reverse in the not too distant future.

How has business been during lockdown?

I have always tried to be forward-thinking with technology and this paid dividends immediately with a lot of our systems being cloud based and the phones and computer systems easily transferable to our homes. Our customers have adapted quickly as well and have been happy to deal more over the phones, accept more electronic documentation and use electronic payments. Overall its been OK and we’ve certainly learnt a lot.

Managing the team hasn’t really been an issue, even though we have 3 offices, as they are all very experienced so making this job much easier. Being visible is important and we have tackled this using Microsoft Teams where there is a ‘chat’ available so you can ‘virtually’ ask for help, ask a quick question or just have a bit of fun like you would face-to-face.

Have you seen a change in the way customers deal with you – have you seen more digital and online activity?

On the whole, there have been some real positives emerged on the technology front which we must continue to harness to be more efficient going forward. Being the only realistic channel of communication, digital has really come into its own. Where teams are spread out, I am confident we will harness the likes of Teams or Zoom to have catch ups and 1-2-1s more frequently.

What’s the one thing you have learned from this experience?

It has been interesting to see the effect on the business from the different channels our offices operate in. In the main, personal lines – car insurance, home insurance and the like – has been largely unaffected and it would have been hard to pick the best channels to be operating in before Covid-19. As a business it really highlights how a varied book of business will ensure stability.

Apart from a couple of sectors which will in all probability continue to be affected long-term – fleet insurance will be an interesting one, especially given all the electric vehicle insurance demand that’s coming – I would hope to see a real desire for us to get back in as normal a way as is possible hopefully bringing back some of the positivity to 2020 in the way may felt it started. That said I think things will change and that, that change will be for the better.

Thanks, Andy, very informative and good luck with getting back to normal.

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