16 Feb Don’t Crash Your Brand: 7 Tips to Create a Positive Impression After an Accident
It sounds simple, but what is a brand? It can be a logo, a tagline, a jingle or a mascot identified with your business. But it is also your company’s unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition. And it is even your own “personal brand,” built by the experience someone has with you and the perceptions they walk away with.
Brand is powerful. It can make or break companies and relationships. Regardless of how great your product or service are, branding is what the customer remembers. It’s critical to protect that brand, especially after a vehicle accident or any time when conflict or controversary arises.
Protecting the brand: Fleet Response’s first priority
Out on the roadways, accidents happen every day. For companies dependent on cars or trucks, those accidents can damage vehicles, injure people, or harm reputations. As specialists in managing claims for first or third parties, Fleet Response has learned how to protect a customer’s brand after an accident.
Fleet Response Senior Claims Specialist Ryan Briceland, learned the company’s “secret sauce” that keeps brands and reputations from crashing. “To me, the most important thing we do is protecting a brand – not just our client’s brand, but the Fleet Response brand and our own personal brand as a claims rep and how we are perceived.”
Briceland is one of about 40 Fleet Response reps who handle claims after an accident, from initial notice of the loss to completion of the repairs. “We really represent the client as if they are us and we are them,” he says. “We resolve the issue in the best, most cost-effective way, while being realistic at the same time.”
Fleet Response works with all sizes and types of businesses – from individuals in compact cars going door-to-door to fleets of big rigs delivering large loads of paint and even busses that range from large passenger capacity to small hoppers. Each one has a brand image to protect.
The way a business handles a vehicle accident reflects on the brand and the people behind it. If a driver has a single car incident and damages the company vehicle, it needs to be fully repaired and back on the road as soon as possible. It needs to have decals, wraps or painted signage looking good and representing the brand out on the road. Fleet Response is responsible for handling that process from start to finish. And when there is damage to a third party, again the brand is at risk. Damages need to be handled promptly and professionally.
Briceland relies on his claim managers to create a great customer experience while protecting the brand from start to finish. “The qualities of a good claims rep at Fleet Response includes being highly skilled, goal-oriented, displays passion and positivity, takes ownership and pride in their work, is willing to go the extra mile, and is a team player.”
Tips to protect your own brand
Briceland points out key approaches to claims management that Fleet Responses uses to create a great customer experience and – and to keep a brand from “crashing” after an accident or incident causes property damage or personal injury.
Many of the “lessons learned” about protecting a brand can be applied to any business:
1. Take ownership from start to finish
The Fleet Response accident claim process might begin at the call center, when a driver, a supervisor, a third-party claimant or an attorney calls in about an accident. Or the claim is shared via email or using a few claim data sharing programs. Once the claim begins, a claim rep takes ownership. “I tell my reps they need to own a claim throughout the lifecyle,” says Briceland. “We’re here to control the spend on repairs, rentals, storage and other costs. We protect the client throughout. And that protects our own brand.”
2. Listen and care
Accidents can be traumatic – and that means it’s important to respond with empathy. It’s all part of making sure everyone is satisfied, from a company driver to a third-party making property or injury claims. “Nobody wants to be in an accident. And this may be their first accident ever,” says Briceland. “We explain the repair process, listen to their needs, explain the next steps and follow up with phone calls, emails and a survey.”
3. Know what matters to the customer
Briceland explains that Fleet Response assumes the role of advocate for the client, making sure they get a fair price on repairs. And they determine what matters most to the customer. “We have different parameters for different clients. One may be most concerned about getting a decal on perfectly before the vehicle is back on the road. Another may have a different priority. We follow their guidelines and protect the brand based on the customer’s guidelines.”
4. Keep your promises
Integrity is key during the claim management process. That means following up on promises made. “Maybe a third-party who had their car damaged tells us they need a repair shop that’s closer to where they work. We try to make that happen,” says Briceland. “But if you make a promise and don’t follow through, that’s where things fall off the tracks in the customer experience. And they also wonder, ‘Why would that business hire you guys to manage the repairs on my vehicle?’ We represent our clients to the third party throughout the process. We are the face of their brand.”
5. Openly share information
Briceland sees communication playing a make-or-break role in managing claims and protecting a brand. “On the first-party side, great communication means keeping them updated on the repair process. On the third-party side we keep them informed on liability issues or a police report that might be delayed. The biggest impression we make is just coming to the table with open, consistent and timely communication and follow-up. It’s about being truthful and honest, and showing we have their best interest in mind. That kind of communication protects the customer brand.”
6. Act promptly
When things drag out after an accident, it adds extra cost and creates a negative impression on a company and its brand image. After a Fleet Response claims manager assigns a repair shop, Briceland says it is critical that they keep the shop on track and communicate that with the customer or fleet manager. “Time is precious when getting a vehicle back on the road or following up on a claim. That’s part of the partnership between us and the client, to make decisions and move things forward.”
7. Improve, improve, improve
“At the end of the claim process, we ask ‘Is there anything we could’ve done better?’ We continually strive to do better, which makes a better overall customer experience as well as protects the brand.” Briceland encourages his claim reps to be receptive to feedback and apply it. “Feedback is a gift. At Fleet Response, we’re very open. We’re all human. If you make a mistake, let’s get through it. Let’s learn from it.”
Brand: Respect it. Protect it.
No one wants to crash a brand – not your customer’s brand or your own. It begins with understanding the brands you are protecting. Respect what your customer represents and know what your own business stands for.
“At Fleet Response, everyone has a company awareness,” says Briceland. “We’re a smaller company but we touch a lot of major companies across the U.S. We are all invested in our family-oriented business and want to see the company succeed. We pride ourselves on being a small company doing big things.”
To discuss your organization’s unique claims management challenges, contact Jeff Fender, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Fleet Response, firstname.lastname@example.org.