Youi CEO Danie Matthee provides an exclusive look into its company headquarters.
Youi CEO Danie Matthee provides an exclusive look into its company headquarters. Patrick Woods

Youi CEO: Complaints hurt, but we're fixing them

YOUI insurance has given a no holds barred tour of its global Sunshine Coast head office in a bid to address concerns about the company's ethics and corporate culture.

CEO Danie Matthee also highlighted the lengths the company was going to restore its proud reputation after pleading guilty to 15 charges of misleading customers in New Zealand.

Mr Matthee said Youi admitted sales staff had made mistakes, but explained these were isolated incidents which were dealt with quickly.

The company has grown from a small office in Maroochydore employing 30 people to one of the Sunshine Coast's largest employers, with more than 970 staff eight years later.

It is on a trajectory for more growth with the new office in Sippy Downs expected to employ 1600 people when it opens at the beginning of 2018.

In the last financial year alone, Youi made a staggering $110 million contribution to the local economy through its employment offerings, rent and other contributions.

The business, which has become the fourth-largest motor insurer in Australia and has more than 650,000 customers, is the fastest-growing insurance company in the country.

Despite its phenomenal success, it was clear a handful of newspaper reports and the concerns in New Zealand were something the company took personally.

"It's painful personally and it damages staff morale," Mr Matthee said.

"We employ almost 1000 people and we have great staff here. We act prudently to give a great product and awesome service to our customers. As much as 97% of our claims are settled."

In the past 12 months, the company has made significant changes to ensure the problems were dealt with.

"So when you look at the big picture, we are not perfect. We will make mistakes, yes, but what is important is we learn from them and get stronger," he said.

"We have made changes to the sales process and have remodelled our training."

He explained taking credit card details for a quote was "never Youi policy", but acknowledged in a few, isolated instances it had happened and was dealt with.

If it happened again, the guilty sales person would be subject to instant dismissal.

"We acknowledge we make mistakes, but what is important is how we pick it up and deal with it."

Mr Matthee said the Youi Wall was an unbiased indicator of the company's performance and customer satisfaction ration.

"It is completely independent and unedited," he said.

It has more than 66,000 comments in the past year alone and there is a 92% satisfaction rate.

"This shows for 8% of people, something isn't right. Our response to this is what counts.

"Each and every one of these is followed up on and 40% of these are turned from complaints to compliments.

"We can't keep everyone happy, but you have to look at the bigger picture."

He also challenged claims Youi's performance-based salary component was making sales people push the ethical boundaries.

"Nobody gets paid commission, 80% of the salary staff earn is fixed. The remaining 20% is based on a number of ratios, including customer satisfaction."

Mr Matthee said Youi was transparently and constructively working with ASIC on its inquiries and was complying with the process to ensure the company's reputation was upheld.

The company was also undertaking its own independent review to ascertain where it could improve.

"If you read the annual report, there were 1.1 million policies active and almost 400,000 sales made last year."

Mr Matthee said the company was proud to call the Sunshine Coast home and have it as its global headquarters as it continued its expansion drive.

"We have some new product and technology innovations in the pipeline," he said.

And he encouraged more businesses to base themselves on the Sunshine Coast.

"Mayor Mark Jamieson has sent a clear message he wants economic growth. I would invite more people to consider this as a base."

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