Chartered Institute of Insurers to offer training to insurance companies in effort to improve customer service

The CII is to work with insurers and brokers to improve the quality of call centres.

The professional standards body will offer training and competence packages to insurance businesses to help them improve customer service and increase their "competitive edge".

The institute has already conducted a number of pilot studies of its training programme,which it claims have improved service levels and profitability.

The studies measured the number of professionally qualified people, feedback from staff, staff attrition, customer retention and profitability.

It is due to begin a further two-month study in May.

The growing use of call centres has come under fire from consumers in recent years.There have been complaints of poor service, such as lack of knowledgeable staff, being kept on hold, and the inability of call centre workers to depart from the "script".

The use of foreign call centres, such as an India, has also added to customers' frustrations, with complaints of language difficulties and poor quality phone lines.

Norrie Erwin, CII business development manager, said: "Service centres are differentiators in terms of customer services, and companies are grappling with this. They ignore it at their peril.

"There are opportunities for businesses to differentiate themselves through the bar of performance which has a direct link to service differentiation and competitive edge."

He said the move would also help tackle recruitment and retention issues.

More than 1 million people work in UK call centres.