Transparency Develops Trust
In 1992 when I started in the cleaning and restoration business the paperwork was quite a bit different. First off it was actual paper. We would hand write one page water damage invoices or sometimes if it was a large job we would use the DOS version of Xactimate to complete the invoice. Photos may have been taken but never more than 10. That’s because they were Polaroid photos and 10 is all there was in a package of film. Then the insured or insurance company would have to wait days while we mailed the invoice to them. Unless they were in a hurry then we would hand deliver the invoice to them. Needless to say things were totally different.
Today customers expect that you are way more transparent in how you handle things and they want to have information immediately. So the struggle with business owners is supplying all this information in a way that is easy for the customer to access it. The need to be transparent and share large volumes of photos became a necessity for us last year. We got a large water loss call on a Monday afternoon. The insured was in Jamaica and could not get back to the U.S. til Saturday, since there was one flight in and out a week. So a neighbor let us in the house and the insured and I spoke on the phone but she was still real uneasy about us being in her house because we had never met before. After emailing her some photos of how her house looked she signed our work authorization and allowed us to begin working. However, I still needed the insured to trust me which was going to be difficult over email and telephone.
Then I remembered a Google drive that we had started using around the office to transfer files. So I set the insured up a file in our Google drive account and started putting all the photos in there. Then I shared that file with the insured. She was able to access it several times a day since the hotel had internet access for her. She would scroll through all the photos and then call me to discuss what we were doing if she had questions.
After the first day of photos, the tone of our conversations completely changed. The insured now trusted me. She was getting 75-100 photos a day and felt like she was in control of the situation. Besides, people love having the photos to share with friends and family or just to have in case something goes wrong. This level of transparency created a trust in me and my company that is still paying huge dividends today. We now have a huge cheerleader for our services.
After this experience we started to use this Google drive more and more. This adds another layer of customer service over what we already do and this really helps the insured realize that we are there to help them and we have nothing to hide.