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It’s early Monday morning, the computer is still coming to life after its weekend slumber, and the last thick droplets of coffee are freefalling into a stained pot in the break room. The phone rings and, at first, you think it’s that same employee who calls out almost every Monday, so you decide to let it go to voicemail. But then you wonder if it’s one of your kids or your spouse with a flat tire. So you pick it up and answer it politely, only to find a person on the other end who, after a few introductory comments, lays into you with a vengeance. For a moment, you become detached from your body and see yourself sitting there being berated by a total stranger; it’s then that you realize that you are a claim supervisor.

After some pleading for calm, you manage to get the claim number. You see in the system that the rep is on track with the file. The customer was contacted, the vehicle inspected, and the payment looks good—so what’s this person’s problem? As the conversation continues, you begin to realize that your rep was a real jerk to this person, despite the fact that the file looks clean like every other one you have reviewed for this rep. You think, “Maybe the rep is just having a bad week, or maybe it’s a pattern.” But you just don’t know for sure. Why? You’ve been managing only by numbers.

Graphs and Gut Feelings

Cycle time, open inventory, and average paid are often the metrics that define and drive a claim organization. Although these measurements may seem essential in creating an objective picture of performance, they lack depth and texture. By simply managing to the numbers, claim managers and supervisors risk losing a vital sensitivity to the complex interplay between people and processes that only comes through using more qualitative instruments.

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