How we helped Prudential increase the quality of their letters by 75%

The problem

Prudential’s customers were unhappy with the way their complaints were being handled – many were turning to the regulator for help. Prudential asked us to help them write better letters to customers and reduce the number of complaints about communication.

The solution

Customers need three things: action, reasons and the crucial ingredient, empathy. We showed Prudential how to get the balance right.

The result

The number of customers satisfied by Prudential’s initial response to their complaints increased by a third. Mike Bingham, Prudential’s Operations Improvement Manager said:

“When we decided to develop a new style of writing in our communication to customers we turned to the team at Quietroom. The results speak for themselves. Further queries were down by a third. Clearer communication, clearly works!”

One year on, our training was still getting results. The team were passing 75% more letters through Prudential’s strict quality control tests on their first attempt. Jim Cheshire, the Head of Prudential’s Outputs Programme, said:

“By combining the excellent training and skills uplift with a continuing audit & feedback process we have reduced the failure in our manually written letters by nearly 75%.”

How we did it

Open

We reviewed Prudential’s letters, listened to calls and interviewed their team members, coaches and managers. Here’s what we discovered:

It wasn’t that Prudential were making bad decisions – the team prided themselves on being fair. The real problem was that they weren’t expressing their decisions in a way that customers could relate to. The team saw themselves as a back office function, when they were actually the frontline of the customer experience. As a result, their letters lacked empathy, and this was having a big impact on the way customers felt about the business.

To leave customers feeling good about the complaints process – even if they couldn’t get the outcome they wanted – we needed to change the mindset of the team. If we could help them see their letters through customers’ eyes, they’d be more empathetic, and customers would be more likely to understand and accept their decisions first time.

We ran a series of workshops that focussed on the most important things customers need from a response: action, reasons and the crucial ingredient, empathy. We explained that if you get the mix right, your customers will feel that you’ve listened to them, you’ve understood their problem and you’ve done what you could to help. We also rewrote 86 of Prudential’s system letters with the same principles in mind.