Just three short weeks ago, though it strangely feels like significantly more, the prospect of writing an article comparing video interviews to face-to-face investigations would have seemed irrelevant. Yet here we find ourselves in the midst of a national lockdown due to the pandemic we know as ‘coronavirus’ or Covid-19, to use it more scientific sinister name.
It means we are not able to go about our daily lives and operate in the way we have become used to for so many years, largely without much conscious consideration for what we do and how we do it. Instead, we have to find other ways to achieve our goals, both socially and in business.
As an investigation company, we have internal staff conducting desktop enquiries, who find their work life continuing pretty much as normal. But it’s our UK and Ireland field-based staff that have seen the most disruption to their day-to-day activities. So, what is the alternative? What do you do when you’re not able to get and about?
If this pandemic is to be remembered for anything, it may well include a clutch of new phrases and such buzzwords. Terms like ‘furlough’ as well as Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp. The latter two are slightly better known but how many members of the general public had really heard of Zoom? These are video conference technologies with apps that can reside virtually unnoticed on our mobile phones, tablets or desktop PCs. They would hardly have warranted a second glance just three weeks ago.
However, things have now changed, and the secret is out (if it ever truly was one). Never has this technology been rapidly adopted and used with such fervour, now that there’s a global clamour for socially distant video interactions. It’s amazing what a crisis of this magnitude can do to decimate some sectors of business, whilst supercharging others. Zoom may be under pressure to verify its security measures, but have you seen the trajectory of Zoom’s share price?
The so-called lockdown has seen a change to everyday practices across almost every sector and the insurance market is no different. Insurance organisations now find themselves in a strange and uncharted territory; they need claims to be investigated but no longer have the ability to send an investigator to visit a policyholder and interview them face to face.
It’s inevitable that some independent investigators will be unable to carry out their pre-lockdown activities and, either temporarily or permanently, cease operating. Larger organisations, like us, will seamlessly move their interviewing operations onto a video-based platform, and continue to support their clients.
Thankfully, here at DLB Investigations, we’ve long recognised the benefits of integrating the best people with the best technology. We’re renowned for it. Not for the first time, this has proven to be an advantageous strategy, particularly over the past three weeks as we migrate some of our workload onto our own video interview system. To be honest, while we were never the greatest enthusiasts of video interviewing – predominantly due to the fact that we felt you never really get the a true holistic view of the interviewee or their environment through a PC monitor – this technology has recently exposed some unexpected benefits. Even the most ardent ‘video conference’ technology evangelist may have struggled to identify these just three short weeks ago.
One of the obvious challenges with remote interviewing is the potential for the interviewee to be unable or unwilling to operate the technology at their end and actually make it to the screen to provide a statement at all.
That said, to give credit to the majority of interviewees, they are probably less ‘techno phobic’ than they might think. Nowadays, the savvy online shopper knows a thing or two about using a search engine to compare and purchase a range of goods and services. So, is the video technology used to progress their insurance claim any more difficult? It shouldn’t be, if you want them to interact seamlessly with the solution that you put before them, ensuring they have an unimpeded passage through the claims process.
We have always relied on our own IT gurus to guide us through the minefield that is technology. From the outset, we were looking for the right technological solution that was robust enough to cope with multiple video interviews at any one time yet extremely easy for interviewees to access.
Feedback from our clients and our interviewees suggests we have achieved the correct balance of usability and accessibility.