A freezing cold but dry and sunny cycle into work this morning. We’ve been cycling in for a three weeks (Ariane more regularly than me) and today was the first day that it felt easier. We are getting fitter.

I received a friendly, smiling “Guten Morgen” from the early birds in the office – and gave one back. This is pretty good news, since we pride ourselves as a company on being really friendly. Our motto is, in fact, “making the claims world friendlier”. It sounds better in German. Ariane and I are now well into our second year as business owners and we certainly chose an industry which is not renowned for it’s warmth – insurance. Our company calls drivers who’ve just had a crash and helps them sort out the repair if necessary. Our theory is that it pays, in every way, to be friendly and helpful toward the claimant.

This is no revelation. Good customer service makes sense… right? Well I think it does but Germans are not famous for it. In fact they quite like to beat themselves up about it, often referring to their country as “Service Wüste Deutschland” (service desert Germany).

On the whole, I would say that people are less obviously friendly here. There is a formality which isn’t so clear in England. Ariane is still impressed that the bus driver called her “Luv” the first time we took a bus in Yorkshire.

On the other hand, once you actually engage a German in conversation, they are really friendly – as demonstrated at the various beer festivals each year. Once the ice is broken – a good-natured evening awaits.

We still have plenty of work to do before the insurers (just voted worst industry for customer service) all have a great image. At least the office is friendly. One step at a time.

Bis morgen!

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