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Agility in action: Communication changes in audit services

Regardless of your role, industry or expertise — the stress of the past nearly two years has changed the way we communicate. As our personal and professional needs evolve, it can take time to adjust to new technologies and methods of communication. The audit sector has experienced this firsthand when the pandemic pushed an overnight shift to remote work. While teams of people have always felt a little push and pull with different communication styles, auditors and insureds experienced a sudden change once virtual audits became the only solution.

How the shift to virtual has changed premium audit

When most of the workforce went digital in March of 2020, the audit sector faced a greater challenge as an industry where the most complex audits are best handled in-person. Industrywide, there was a decline in audit quality due to the change in communication methods with auditors physically distant from the insured. New communication skills in virtual interviews and emails had to be built to extract the information needed to complete the audit.

The shift to virtual provided us an opportunity to examine audits individually. In terms of virtual audits, what made some go smoothly and others so difficult in the past? How can we apply these lessons now? And for physical audits, what are the parts that previously worked well and what parts were inefficient? After a thorough comparison, we had the knowledge to combine the best of both into our audit process moving forward.

On both sides — our teams and clients — we recognized a need for information to be presented in multiple ways at various touchpoints for optimal retention. In communicating with our premium auditor partners, we began to provide instructions in the form of written documents, checklists, webinars and phone conversations. Our fully remote auditor partners helped ease the transition by continuing their remote work with systems that could handle virtual audits and sharing their strategies for working remotely.

Meeting the demand for agility

Our industry has a solid foundation and was more ready than others to accommodate the shift to digital. We had the resources — including flexible virtual and remote audit solutions, electronic order, delivery and status reports, real-time reporting methods, and data mining tools. Most remote auditors were willing and able to continue working remotely and there were processes and tools in place to handle virtual audits.

Fortunately, our audit teams are resilient. As we learn and refine our processes, the communication has become more successful, as has the continued learning and remote audit upskilling efforts. We provide auditors with detailed insight on improving their interviewing techniques to help them gain the level of detailed information needed to complete a quality remote audit. They have access to checklists to make communication easier and more systematic. In addition, they are more skilled at managing expectations with insureds before an audit to ensure the clients know exactly what is needed for the audit process before it even begins. Just like our teams, insureds have multiple communication options, so they have access to the best pathway for transferring and retaining information.

We have worked to evolve our virtual product into a remote physical audit — combining the best of virtual efficiencies and communication to extract the same information as in a physical meeting. Communication, transparency and partnership with our clients has been key in meeting the demand for agility. We have also learned to give each other a little grace to adapt. The good news: premium audit services with remote options are not only operating ahead of their time but creating successful audit outcomes for both clients and insureds.

To learn more about Sedgwick’s premium audit solutions, including in-person and remote options, download the flyer.

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