What does love mean in the corporate world?

February 14th …a day I love, as long as my husband remembers.

I’ve been thinking about what love means in our corporate world, particularly in the world of insurance.

For me, a big part of love in insurance is about getting a real understanding of what our customers need. Of course that sounds really easy but as an industry, in the past I think we tended to launch products or services based around what we think people wanted rather than what our customers really do want.

It’s the equivalent of taking a partner to your favourite restaurant on Valentine’s Day, rather than taking the time to find somewhere special for them to go.

If you get it wrong you’ll get a polite “well it’s nice darling” but if you get it right – start counting the brownie points.

We’ve been trying to do this in Property Investors. Asking our customers what we can do to help them get on with their lives and it’s interesting that so far the first few propositions are proving really popular.

Another part of strong relationships is keeping in contact and having proper communication. I love it when I get a quick text in the morning from my husband wishing me well for the day, if there is something particularly big happening or an encouraging phone call. But if he phones me at the wrong time, say in the middle of an Exec meeting, I might appear slightly distracted.

We are trying to get this right in business by seeing the situation through the broker’s lens.

The Trading Unit concept is one part of this,with regional trading floors in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Croydon and London. The idea is that our partners can access decision makers when and how they want.

They say that to find love you have to be happy in yourself, so having our people at Royal & SunAlliance enjoying their roles can absolutely be translated into happier customers.

Again, talking becomes a big part of this as well as listening to our people and understanding what’s important to them, what makes them tick and this, in turn, creates an environment in which they can thrive.

This can be greatly beneficial and like the best relationships, both sides see the benefit.

The great thing about a special relationship is the unexpected places it can take you to. This was especially true last week with the “marriage” of Royal & SunAlliance and Fyfe Group.

We’ve had a really long working relationship with Fyfe and came to realise that together we could do more. We could combine their fantastic motor expertise with our trading units and giving a really fantastic offering in the motor trade market.

So in the corporate world love can mean something, but as Shakespeare said “The course of true love never did run smooth”.

Only when one half is in trouble can you really test how strong a relationship can be. I think the 2007 floods were one of those tests. For me the experience really showed the value of what we can do as an industry and I’m so proud of how our people responded. Getting it right means that we’ve grown closer to our customers and we are really earning their continuing trust.

So now, what’s happening in the post today? I was expecting a red envelope…