Inside the Quality-First Contact Center

Pondering Forgiveness After My Surprising Customer Service Experience

Until this summer, the only times I've had to deal with the customer service offered by insurance companies is when I bought or renewed a policy. Then I was in a car accident.


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I came through the accident fine, but the car didn't. So I had to call my insurance company for help. Here's how it went down. This is a story about Experience, Effort, and Forgiveness both offered and earned.

Customer (Self) Service

I called my insurer, and to my surprise, they wanted me to file a claim against the other driver's insurance company. This seemed odd since my insurance company deals with claims for a living. I am much more likely to make a mistake dealing with an unfamiliar system. I am paying for their expertise.

Eventually, the insurance adjuster at my insurance company very reluctantly took on the responsibility of filing the claim. But eight times out of ten, I had to do the follow-up: making calls to the other insurance adjuster, giving the details of the accident, explaining why the accident wasn't my fault, and acting as my own advocate.

The customer support, or lack thereof didn't end there. I had to talk to my adjuster several times, and I quickly learned that I had better keep my eye on the clock. If I caught her near the end of her shift, tough luck for me. She wouldn't stay on the phone an extra five minutes. I'd have to call back the next day — or worse, wait all weekend.

Companies need to do the heavy lifting of supporting customers and resolving issues. Companies need to offer empathy. Companies need to offer and earn forgiveness.

I also had to send the call center agent and adjuster a few documents, but she didn't have a direct customer support email address. Think about that for a minute. How, in 2016, does a company not give email addresses to important customer support players who need to receive documents from customers? Instead, I had to send everything through a third party and cross my fingers that it would be forwarded.

The Other Half of my Customer Support Saga

If that's how my own insurer treated me, you can imagine the battle I expected when I called the other driver's insurance provider. To my surprise, the customer service representative I spoke with gave me advice on how to describe the accident in the most favorable terms for me. She had suggestions on how to reach a resolution and receive the most money in a settlement. (In the end the other driver was found 80 percent at fault.)

I received a higher level of customer support and advocacy from the other driver's insurance company than from mine.

To be clear, the customer service representative at my insurance company wasn't a bad apple. She didn't do anything harmful and she wasn't rude, but good customer service puts you at ease. Instead I felt more anxiety and insecurity after talking with her.

I also want to praise the professional who physically came out and inspected the car. He was always available when I needed to talk to him, and he gave me clear information.

The Customer Support Score

My insurance company did follow up with an online survey where I was able to give them a highly abbreviated version of what I've written here. To my surprise, they contacted me to discuss it. That's impressive. Most companies won’t even read the survey results much less contact a customer after a bad review. They made me feel my time and customer support experience mattered.

The support representative apologized for my experience and agreed to reimburse me for some expenses. She even agreed to issue the funds directly to me, rather than wait to collect the funds from the other driver's insurance first.

While I’m still not entirely satisfied, this does go towards my ability to forgive them and to continue on as a customer.

My insurance provider redeemed itself when it comes to Customer Satisfaction Score. But there's a customer support metric that is gaining some attention; the Customer Effort Score. My insurance company didn't score very high on this one. I had to do most of the heavy lifting.

Temkin Ratings shows my insurance company as a No. 179 in its Forgiveness rankings.

Maybe that's just the way the insurance industry works. Temkin Ratings, a company that ranks companies for customer service, customer experience, forgiveness, and other metrics, places my provider at No. 64 in Customer Service (2015) and No. 110 in Experience rankings (2016) among the 294 companies evaluated, but in both cases, my insurance company still ranks as the No. 3 insurance company.

The most interesting aspect, my insurance company is No. 179 in the Forgiveness rankings (how likely customers would be to forgive the companies if it made a mistake).

The Final Takeaway

When customers call a support representative to resolve a problem, they are starting from an unhappy place. Poor customer service only makes them feel worse. Companies need to do the heavy lifting of resolving issues. Companies need to offer empathy. Companies need to offer and earn Forgiveness. Those are qualities we have always emphasized at Callzilla. You'd better believe that my own experience will reinforce that effort. 


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Topics: Customer Service Insights