In 1973, flares and kipper ties were the height of fashion, Sunderland beat Leeds in the FA Cup Final, and a song called American Pie was in the hit parade. In the same year, the idea of a national network specialising in roadside windscreen replacement was new. After a few short years, a concept that had been seen as highly innovative, soon became the norm, and the companies that had quickly sprung up began looking for newer pastures.

Some diversified into commercial and domestic glazing, and this move was to prove a master-stroke as insurers developed strategies for improving levels of customer care that had massive implications for glazing firms.

As service within the industry is again under the microscope, all of these big players are happy to put their reputation, and their policyholders' satisfaction, into one company's hands.

This can only happen when the relationship between insurer and supplier is built on trust, and there is little doubt that every time a glass fitter visits a policyholder, he or she is trusted with the responsibility of promoting that insurer's brand values.

Costs and expenses remain as critical now as ever, and using a single supplier for glass, frame, and lock damage has a number of knock-on effects on the final cost of a claim. Insurers can immediately expect to see a saving in their total outlay simply because of the scale of work being placed with one source.

Insurers should expect uniform costs across the country, with no variance in charges whether the work is carried out in Exeter or Edinburgh. This means that they can accurately estimate their liability for the forthcoming year.

Equally, as prices are agreed up front for the different specifications of work, insurers can be confident that the full amount of any excess will be recovered and that any suggestion of betterment at the insurer's expense will be resisted.

Brand protection is vital to companies who have spent millions of pounds and several years, building trust among brokers and policyholders about the way in which they operate and the service they offer. It is vital that any contact with the policyholder reflects these values, and establishing a close working relationship with one supplier can mean the difference between policyholders renewing or not. Highway Glass is one company that has developed rigorous service standards to support and complement insurers' brand values.

Technical expertise is another area that develops hand in hand with the scale of work undertaken. A significant number of policyholders have been the victims of burglary or vandalism and, therefore, it's absolutely vital that they are handled sensitively. The fitter will often be one of the first people on the scene and needs to have been trained to help householders who have been traumatised by the incident.

At the end of the claim process, it will be the insurance company that is remembered for such caring service and the benefit to them will be retained or renewed business.

It is often the small gestures that make a huge difference. Lending a sympathetic ear to a traumatised policyholder, or cleaning up efficiently when the job is finished, goes a long way to delight rather than just satisfy the customer.

As the insurance industry takes increasing advantage of the technology available to it, the next development must surely be for glass companies to use systems to improve the service that insurers can give to their brokers and customers.

Highway Glass is developing a facility that allows the insurer, and ultimately the policyholder, to pass a new lead via email. In the case of policyholders, they will register claims via their insurer's website and that will be linked to Highway's site.

Glass replacement has come a long way since its first windscreen, but then so too has the public perception of what to expect from its insurance company. And insurers have come to rely on big name suppliers for replacement white and brown goods.

Different companies operate to varying standards and the emergency glazing trade is no different.

I can reassure the industry, though, that the leading companies not only understand the three-way relationship between insurer, broker and customer, but they are continuously seeking ways to enhance it.