Magazine article Risk Management

A Call to Quality

Magazine article Risk Management

A Call to Quality

Article excerpt

Earlier this year the Executive Council of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS), along with the 20 committee chairs, vice chairs, task force leaders and members of the RIMS staff, met at our annual planning meeting in Orlando, Florida, to develop our blueprint for the next year and beyond.

It's not often that one is part of a gathering where so many constructive ideas are developed, many of which will have long-lasting effects on our Society and our industry. We focused on five categories that are relevant to RIMS members: government affairs, membership, education, technology and quality.

Quality, in my opinion, is without a doubt the most serious issue we discussed. Certainly recent events have raised the question of quality in the minds of risk managers. Are the consolidations taking place today among insurers and brokers good for the industry? Are they good for us as risk managers? Do fewer choices imply more efficiency and a higher level of quality? These are hard questions, but each of us must focus on them.

When the Quality Insurance Congress surveyed insurance customers, both large and small, the results showed that the insurance industry scored extremely low in terms of customer satisfaction compared to other financial institutions. More recently, RIMS polled its membership with questions pertaining to the consolidations' effects on service quality and efficiency. While our results were mixed, it was interesting that in the short term, customers generally perceived the effects of consolidation on the quality of service as negative or of little consequence. In my mind, the absence of a positive response suggests that the industry should be concerned.

Making Quality Real

When Walt Disney, my company's founder, made "Bambi," he required the animators to spend time watching deer. He did this so they would become intimately familiar with the movements of an animal they were about to draw.

Over 50 years later, when the animation team was putting the finishing touches on "The Lion King," it too paid special attention to detail. At the RIMS Annual Membership Meeting in Atlanta this past April, we ran a video clip, took a moment to describe some of the intricate details, and ran the tape again. On the second viewing it was as if the audience were seeing it for the first time! The next time you see the film, there are numerous painstakingly drawn details that you wouldn't outwardly notice. For instance, when rain sweeps across the river, the raindrops distort the water. Much like in real life, clouds subtlety move across the sky. When lightning strikes, it not only flickers, but helps to cast shadows in its light. When Rafiki, the wise old character who foretold of the coming of the future king, draws on a cave wall, bits of dust fall from his thumb.

Disney puts these subtleties into our films even though 99 percent of our audience doesn't notice them all. It is this attention to detail that makes the difference. At Disney, we pay the cost because there is no substitute for quality.

Someone once asked Babe Ruth why he was so good. He said, "I don't know, I just keep my eye on the ball." Keeping one's eye on the ball and focusing on every detail -- that is the attitude that needs to prevail in the insurance industry.

Risk managers can influence the quality of the services and products we purchase by working hand-in-hand with our partners -- our brokers and our insurers. By working together, defining what we want and need and not accepting less, we will make a difference. …

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