When Your Customer Experience Shoots You In the Foot. With a Cannon

I had an experience as a customer recently that left me speechless. That in itself is a rare event. I’ll tell you the story. It won’t take long but do stick around for the punchline.

I don’t find insurance shopping very sexy. In fact, all I want from an insurance company is the right level of cover and fairness in settling claims. I am so disinterested in insurance that all of my insurance policies automatically renew. The only action that is required on my part is that I open and file the cover note once a year.

You can imagine my confusion when I opened the letter (that looked like the cover note) this year and was told that my car insurance had been cancelled. This is the one thing that shouldn't ever happened with my advanced insurance shopping strategy. This in effect, because the letter was sent by snail mail, meant that I had been driving around uninsured for three weeks. I had inadvertently been breaking the law and was financially exposed if I had the misfortune to suffer an accident.

I called the insurance company and was transferred to collections as I had “defaulted on payment”. It transpired that my continuous payment had expired after 9 years. Yup, 9 years I had been a customer with barely a call or query.

I spoke to the collections advisor, “You have asked for all my contact details – why didn’t you SMS or email me to update my payment details?”

“We have so many customers, sir. Far too many to contact them for that sort of thing”.

Oh really? One. Less. Customer. Now.

I don’t know what made me madder as a customer – the fact that they left me dangerously uninsured because their back office processes are prehistoric or because they have collected my contact details under false pretence. It would appear that they can contact me, without issue, on multiple channels to SELL me things but they can only post me a letter when it comes to something that is important to me.

Oh, and the punchline? They used SMS to contact me for a customer satisfaction survey. They care enough about the customer experience to survey without any awareness how incongruously the way they survey sits with their core service.

So, there we have it – because the customer journey and customer contact strategy is so fractured an insurance company managed to lose a customer that they previously had entrenched through inertia.

E minus, Direct Line, must try harder.