constructive-irritantCanCERN is all about trying to be constructive. Constructive criticism, constructive partnerships, constructive solutions. Anything less than constructive just takes up energy we don’t have to spare.

Many residents, though, don’t feel like the constructive path is getting results and in some circumstances we would agree. Being constructive relies on a relationship between two or more parties, and relationship struggles and failures are rampant in this recovery.

Minister Brownlee, when recently asked by a resident if greater collaboration through organisations like CanCERN (who have the trust of residents) was something that could be built on, replied that “CanCERN took up positions that were not sustainable.” Apparently we are not aware that what happens in Christchurch affects the whole of New Zealand. There’s a good example of a recovery party unwilling to enter into constructive conversation.

Last week we took a position that was not palatable for many residents when we were reported as saying that the Campbell Live September 4th show had a format that was “not terribly helpful or constructive” for claimants in terms of settling claims.  As angry as that made some people, we stand by our comments – leaders talking about progress to people who have not made any is not conducive to constructive progress. We do, however, offer our apologies to residents who felt let down by our comments.

What the show did do and what we absolutely support is the opportunity for residents in the same boat to come together, to share their stories, to offer support for each other, and to show the rest of New Zealand that people are still hurting deeply. Hurt is one of the key stumbling blocks in terms of residents being able to make confident progress, and until an insurer recognises the role that hurt plays, things are unlikely to get any better.

We know that more than a few ‘stuck’ residents feel they are struggling to have constructive conversations with their insurer, and as a result, the relationship is not a healthy one. Southern Response gets its fair share of negative feedback – some is warranted and some is a result of the noise generated by having such a large market share. We hear a lot of stories about Southern Response, but the experiences for the most part are no better or worse than experiences we hear regarding other insurers.

By and large, our dealings with Southern Response have been constructive. This doesn’t mean we always agree with positions they take or decisions they make, but it does mean we can have open discussions about solutions. We also know from experience that it is often Southern Response stepping outside of their ‘business as usual’ approach to try and find more innovative solutions to a myriad of issues. In other words, they are willing to accept that somethings don’t work as well as they could and try to do something about it. We realise ‘stuck’ people are not likely to believe us on that one until they become unstuck.

We do recommend you put your doubt aside momentarily to read about some of the newer developments within Southern Response. These decisions have come directly as a result of issues that have been uncovered throughout the claims process. To tempt you a little more, here’s an excerpt from the linked document, which also has information about Southern Response’s vulnerable customer and solutions teams.

Some of the aspects of the decision-making framework that have been introduced to satisfy its customers’ legitimate concerns have been:

Multiple Repair Solutions – Rather than choosing the absolute most economic solution, opting for a mutually acceptable solution (acceptable to the customer and still appropriate to us).

Accept a customer’s technical advice – even if it differs from Southern Response’s advice, provided it comes from a reputable source, it is realistic in the circumstances and the brief to the engineer is in line with Southern Response’s policy obligations.

Honouring what we had offered in the past – it recognises that the customer may have been advised of a repair solution, which is no longer as cost effective as later determinations. Southern Response will recognise its customers expectations based on what he had previously committed to and seek to match them with the actual solution. This is most commonly about a solution such as a replacement foundation being determined at some time in the past and later assessments suggest that a foundation repair is appropriate. Rather than choosing to persist with the foundation repair, Southern Response will work with its customer to reach a mutually acceptable solution (acceptable to the customer and still appropriate to Southern Response).

It is for this reason that we approached Southern Response about the possibility of piloting an initiative called Breakthrough in an attempt to create a streamlined progress pathway for some of our residents. We are pretty excited about the potential of this pilot and we hope that ‘stuck’ Southern Response customers will take up the opportunity. More on this in the newsletter!