Improving the bereavement journey

Insights and ideas from people who had been bereaved and ‘critical friends’ from expert partner organisations.

Insight 1: When someone dies, the person dealing with their finances has to contact over 20 providers of services to close accounts and, in some cases, start a complex journey of releasing funds.

Insight 2: That person is often a family member who is grieving – and grief can have many emotional and physical consequences.

These are just two of many insights that brought the realities of bereavement, and dealing with a loved one’s finances, to the heart of the death claims team at long-term savings & investments business Quilter.

The ‘bereavement journey’ is one of the most commonly complained about services in the savings & investment world, and Quilter wanted to make improvements to their processes to give the loved ones of deceased customers a better, simpler and easier experience.

On the first day we gathered lived experts – people who’d been through it themselves with husbands, wives or parents – and ‘critical friends’ from expert partner organisations Cruse Bereavement Support and Settld, to immerse the Quilter team in the realities of bereavement, grief and dealing with death administration. Many powerful insights arose, and on day two we supported the team to use those insights to devise a whole range of improvements – from achieving the right balance between empathy and efficiency in customer letters, to ways of streamlining and simplifying the overall process.

Progress update, one year on

Making changes to processes and communications is never instant, but the Quilter team worked hard after the completion of the programme to ensure that the most important ideas were implemented. It’s a testament to the power of the insights from the programme, and the work put in by the Quilter team over the months that followed, that one year on, some really significant progress has been made.

First, a new online death notification system was launched and has already been extensively used, satisfying a preference amongst some customers to communicate online. Next, the business has simplified its requirements around documents and signatories needed, helping to reduce lead times. At the same time, the bereavement team can now handle multiple products, meaning that bereaved customers are not passed to other teams. And finally, Quilter has started to work with Cruse Bereavement Support to train staff to become Bereavement First Aiders.

The result is a business that is even better equipped to support bereaved customers, and, ultimately, a better experience for those customers.

“We are thrilled to have been one of the first businesses to take part in a Three Hands two-day in-person workshop on bereavement, with a cross-functional team of Quilter colleagues. 

“While we had strong processes in place, we’ve introduced further improvements thanks to the insights we gained, including from ‘lived experts’ in bereavement. If every service provider did likewise, grieving families, and the professionals supporting them, would have a lot less to worry about.”

Anthony Scammell, Adviser and Client Services Director, Quilter

“The Three Hands team brought the process of reflecting on our process to life. Highly engaging, smartly run. It made a solemn subject fun and gave the review process a real pulse.”

Correspondence Analyst on the Quilter team

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