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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Trace Ledbetter reflects on the lessons learned from this turbulent and unexpected year.

2020 Was All About Finding Opportunities Within the Challenges

The end of the year is typically a time to look back and reflect. Given the year 2020 has been, it’s tempting to skip that part! However, before looking ahead to 2021 it’s important to consider the lessons learned from this turbulent and unexpected year. By fully understanding what we did when faced with circumstances that were anything but normal, we can implement what we’ve learned to make our future even better and brighter than it would have been if the challenges of 2020 had never happened.

Rising to the Occasion

A highlight of this year has been witnessing our team’s ability to transition to a work-from-home environment incredibly quickly, maintain all service level standards, and with the business, our clients, and one another. Even with 93% of staff working remotely, we were still able to deliver quality scores greater than 95% in our Contact Center and in Document Processing. And when our clients needed it most, our best-in-class claims payment processes continued to deliver with by far the fastest payment times in the industry.

Working from home didn’t stifle creativity — it fueled ingenuity and allowed us to grow, excel, adapt, and achieve what we never thought would be possible if it had not been for necessity. The longer-term benefit of the shift in how we work will prove to be an expansion of remote work capabilities, a refinement of how our office space can serve as a centralized hub for collaboration and efficiency, and the value of a decentralized staffing model.

What Gets Measured Gets Improved

In addition to our regular departmental quality surveys, our Annual Survey of Service Quality has always been a strong point of pride for State National. We are the only portfolio protection provider to conduct this kind of regular quantitative analysis, and we use the results to refine our product offerings and continually improve service delivery to our clients. It takes extra investment and time to calculate performance, but these efforts pay dividends — year over year we have seen our scores rise, and in 2019 we achieved a stellar NPS score of +77.

Then, of course, the world turned upside down. We didn’t know what to expect from our 2020 survey results, but we did know that what our business partners think is more important now than ever before. How would our clients feel about how State National served them this year? Did we adapt quickly enough to meet their expectations? Did our service relationships continue to support their needs? Or would they even answer this year, given how much everyone has on their plate just trying to run their own businesses and serve their own customers?

State National’s Service Standards Remained Strong

We are still collecting and tabulating survey responses, and so far we are delighted that more than 70% of our customer base has taken the time to respond and provide feedback. Happily, early results indicate that our NPS performance is tracking ahead of past years. It is a clear indication that our team remains dedicated to understanding the needs of our clients, even if those needs are changing, and that we will do what it takes to meet those needs in every way possible.

Bill Gates once said, “In business, the idea of measuring what you are doing, picking the measurements that count like customer satisfaction and performance … you thrive on that.” I couldn’t agree more. Putting the customer first has always been a hallmark of our business, and it’s a core value that helped State National thrive in 2020.

I am continually impressed by the resilience and strength of the people around me. I have long believed that State National’s greatest assets are the people that make up this organization. Watching them address new, unexpected, unpredictable situations both personally and professionally — and choosing to meet and tackle those challenges head-on with strength creativity, and positivity — has reinforced my belief. I have never been prouder of our company and our people.

Continued Growth on the Horizon

With the delivery of multiple vaccines and a well laid out vaccination plan, there is much optimism for 2021. While the year to come will doubtless have its own challenges, they will be nothing like what we saw in 2020, and certainly nothing that can’t be overcome. When our core values remain our anchor, we are able to stay the course even when our way of life becomes unsettled and unpredictable.

It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. To everyone reading this message, I wish you a new year of creation, possibilities, and growth. Here’s to smoother sailing in the days ahead as we look forward to a great and prosperous 2021!

Trace Ledbetter
Trace Ledbetter
Trace Ledbetter is executive vice president at State National Companies, Bedford, Texas, where he directs and oversees delivery of all services and products for lender services, including customer relationship management, underwriting and claims.

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