Customer Service and the effect on your business – personal case study
Like many South Africans and indeed other residents of this great planet, I need to have insurance for a variety of issues. Probably one of my worst purchases every month is my household and car insurance. I dutifully make these purchases to cover any eventualities and have been fairly fortunate (or not maybe) not to have claimed too much on these policies. In fact in the time that have I have had these insurances my total claims against these policies have amounted to around R 25 000.00 and I have expended a little of R 100 000.00 on them. Now this is not a post about the cost, it is about the service I received from both my insurer and more importantly the other party’s insurer when we needed to sort out a claim for my wife.
In March of this year my wife was involved in a motor vehicle accident, thankfully neither her nor my son were hurt. The other driver’s foot “slipped” off the brake pedal and he drove into the side of my wife’s car, fortunately he was insured by Outsurance. This was the first time that I was really thankful to have insurance. The process started and quite soon after reporting the accident my broker contacted me and advised that we should get the vehicle to the designated panel beater (parts replacement specialist nowadays) and we would be sorted out.
I am currently insured through Mutual and Federal (M&F).
I was told that I needed to pay R 2 500.00 excess, but that we would get this back from Outsurance as it was clearly not my wife’s fault. Everything went fairly smoothly, I paid the excess via my credit card and given that we had car hire as part of our cover we experienced very little disruption. Except that the hire car was in fact better than my wife’s current vehicle and…..well that’s a separate debate. After a couple of weeks we received her car back and we were happy. During May I noticed that I had not received the excess back from Outsurance, so I contacted my broker. He promptly followed up with Mutual and Federal. M&F advised that they had not received an offer from Outsurance, but that they would follow this up.
In June the status quo was exactly the same. No movement from Outsurance and M&F pleading that they are not obliged to recover the excess and that this was merely a service to their customers. I then wrote an email advising that I wanted some sort of response, this was in August. Once again I received the same reply from M&F, via my broker, that they had not heard anything from Outsurance and that the contact person was away. I sent an email directly to M&F requesting all of the correspondence between the two companies. I received two emails back from M&F (that’s right in 5 months they had sent 2 emails) Not that Outsurance was any better claiming that they never received the documentation and yet they had a reference number!
Anyway, I then sent an email to Outsurance and M&F asking them to comment. I was advised that the documents were now with the “manager” and that we would hear back from them. September nada, not a thing back from anybody, October, zip, until I once again enquired about the progress. I was then told that I would get a response in 7 to 10 working days. Well on day 11 I wrote again to enquire as I had not heard anything. This time I threatened to write something about the experience. I received a response to say that the claim was resubmitted as the initial response was not in my favour, but that the Outsurance person was arguing “in my favour”. I finally received a response advising that an offer had been made and they have refunded the R 2 500.00 (forget that I should have earned about R 75.00 in interest)
This post is really about service level and my view is that both M&F and Outsurance have failed to treat this matter with any urgency. In M&F’s case they are going to pay the ultimate price and lose me as a client. I have instructed my broker to find me alternative suppliers. I cannot accept that a business would treat me like this, sending me combination of standard clauses with poorly crafted wording above and below it in their communication, telling me they are communicating all of the time, and then produce two emails after almost 7 months. They should have chased this claim and proven that I was of some value to them. Outsurance also missed an opportunity to gain a client, here, they could have demonstrated a keenness to resolve the issue, not waiting for the M&F to enquire before saying they don’t have the diagram of the incident.
Ultimately these organisations have demonstrated a poor customer focus in my view and should really take a long hard look at their focus.