Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A view from new shoes

“They say, ‘we can beat the rate, we can beat the rate,’ but in a time of need can you help me?”

This was the statement made by an insured of a large insurance company.

The insured was led to believe she had the broadened form on her collision coverage for the state of MI, which she didn’t. Broadened form insurance in the state of MI states that if the insured party is less than 51% at fault the deductible would be waived. The insured was rear ended by another party who fled the scene. I had to inform her that she will be responsible for her 1000 collision deductible. The other party is not cooperating and she was not able to find his insurance policy. The claims department will not make the call for her pursuing the claim through the other carrier unless we are subrogating, which requires her to pay her deductible. Aside from the insured’s responsibility to check her policy and know what coverages she has, the insurance company has a greater responsibility to help her. She has a gold policy, which mean either agents pay the insurance company to service the policy or the policy was originally bought offline or via phone call. Generally is a person needs help getting along in a process, especially reporting a claim with another carrier, I refer them to their agent for help because this is what an agent gets paid to do. In this case she had no agent so there was no one I could send her to. So now I sit on the phone with a woman who has paid an insurance company several thousands of dollars over the years, telling her that there is nothing we can do. I told her even in my own desires to help her I could not because I work in an incoming call center and would not be able to devote time to her case individually because I have time goals I must meet in order to be perceived as a “good performer” that will help make our company an “indispensable” company among insurance providers. I say the numbers mean nothing in this case and see that we totally blew this one as a company.

I had no response to her saying how dissatisfied she was with our insurance company and actually agreed with almost every point she made. I really meant I was sorry to hear that she was going through this; I was embarrassed to represent a company that wouldn’t help and could not respond to her threats of cancelling her policy because in all honesty I would cancel mine if the tables were turned. I think often times the insurance company forgets what it is like to be a consumer and thus focuses on the company rather than the reason for the company, the insured. We forget to take a look at what we do from their shoes.

My concern here is that there is no outlet for her to get assistance with her need, she may not understand what she is supposed to do or what if the other party doesn’t have insurance, then what or just being there for her in general the entire time while this claim is still open. The company that she invest in that she has poured her finances into is now saying, “Sorry, you don’t have the coverage, we cannot help you.”
Does this sound indispensable to you? I really believe to become indispensable from competitors, a company must really see what the consumer desires long term, not short term and meet these needs. Look at the competition in the industry and look at how much we are like them, change the similarities and do things differently, that in itself would set the company apart, but by then providing excellent customer service within these new parameters. I think it is possible, but we cannot keep trying to same things looking for different results (that is the definition of insanity), we need to see needs and meet them, that is how one become indispensable. This one unmet need should not be acceptable, but it is a trend, a very unfortunate trend that impedes the process of indispensability.

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