A recent benchmarking survey conducted by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) on motor insurance claimants has found 10% of the 6,000 respondents complained about the level of service experienced during their claim. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of these felt their complaints had not been fairly dealt with.

Research like this is difficult to conduct to ensure an accurate, objective result - ask a respondent if they were satisfied with the service they have received and they will naturally ponder on slight negatives which would up to then have been disregarded. So what is the point to all this? The point is that whether or not an insurer, broker or intermediary offers a high-quality service, it is the customer's perception that counts.

Particularly with motor, insurers need to up the ante to combat the combination of negative publicity, increasing fuel prices, high car prices compared to our EU counterparts, rising insurance premiums and more speed cameras on our roads.

There is the general acceptance among in-surers and intermediaries that they are trying to be all things to all people - and clearly this is not a successful formula when there is a 10% complaint ratio. Furthermore, the research concludes two out of three complainants feel their complaint has not been dealt with fairly. This comes as little surprise to me - 10% of complaints is quite a volume to manage effectively.

Insurers must take a look at their processes and procedures to ensure customer satisfaction is at an acceptable business level. With motor insurance, the consumer will generally make their purchase decision based primarily on price, with extent of cover secondary. Insurers competing on price alone stand to be more vulnerable to losing clients, as they will have to compromise on the level of service provided because of budget restraints.

The experience of getting their claim resolved is at the forefront when policyholders decide whether to renew their policy. With a myriad of insurers out there, only to happy to service your customer, there has never been a greater need to focus on customer service. The insurer that operates on a cut-price basis will have to take a fresh look at its strategy, as this is not a basis for building customer loyalty.

Motor insurance as a class of business has, according to Standard & Poor's, lost money in every underwriting year but two of the past 15. So, if customers can be won and held more cost-effectively, that is one less thing to worry about.