When I last wrote I thanked all of our business partners and acknowledged their role and critical importance in our quest to provide the best customer care experience for our customers. Although we may be the “point guard” in the repair process, the role of the insurer, agent, parts supplier, rental company etc. can’t be overstated when it comes to the satisfaction of the vehicle owner. At Total Care our mission is to complete an outstanding repair on your vehicle while coordinating the entire process to eliminate your angst and relieve the pressure that comes with being involved in an accident. I’m proud to say that at the end of each individual repair we can almost always say “mission accomplished”. Again, this is due in no small part to the cooperation we get from our many business partners who share the same values that we have about customer care.
So now I’m going to tell you a story about one insurer who has little or no interest in being a good business partner with anyone. Their “command & control” mentality coupled with an unwillingness to work collaboratively makes it extremely difficult to provide an outstanding experience for the customer. The insurer in question is a big national company with a seemingly unlimited budget devoted to quirky advertising (think salamander, Neanderthals & farm animal) that is always focused on price and never mentions service. These guys appear to be intent on being a better marketer of what they do than a doer of what they do. They will sell you cheap insurance, but you better hope you never have to use it!
So here is the very short version of a long sad story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…. and the not so innocent.
Bob’s 2010 car was rear ended and severely damaged on June 21st of this year. The vehicle was towed from the scene of the accident to a local tow yard. The person who caused the accident was insured by a large Massachusetts based insurance company who sent their appraiser to view the vehicle at the tow yard. The obvious visible damage was extensive and the appraiser declared the vehicle a total loss. A few days later an appraiser from Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company was dispatched to see the car. Somehow he didn’t see all of the obvious damage, wrote an absurdly inaccurate $3,300 estimate and insisted that the vehicle be repaired. Bob was concerned (understandably) about the viability of repairing his badly damaged vehicle and asked us to take a look at it in the tow yard. The moment I saw the vehicle it was apparent that the cost of repairing the car would likely exceed the value of the vehicle (approximately $12,000) less the salvage value. When I talked to the appraiser from Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company, he insisted that the car should be repaired. I explained that we could certainly repair the vehicle and provide the customer with a lifetime warranty but the cost to do a safe, correct repair would approach or possibly exceed the value of the vehicle. The appraiser pretty much dismissed my thirty five years of experience and basically bullied Bob into having the vehicle towed to another shop.
Bob called me on September 1st to let me know how things worked out with the repair experience provided by Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company. Bob was “pleased” to report that he got his car back on Thursday, August 30th, a mere 71 days after his accident. His rental coverage had run out in mid July (forcing him to borrow a family member’s vehicle) but his transportation problem didn’t seem to concern Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company. When Bob requested an extension on his rental they told him he had no more coverage. When Bob pointed out that they insisted that the car be repaired, Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company had no response and offered no relief. Although he got his car back on August 30th, Bob could not get either the repair shop or Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company to provide him with a final, itemized bill. After another 71 days, a couple of return trips to the shop and repeated requests to the insurer, Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company finally gave Bob an estimate on November 9th. The estimate (including four supplements) showed a repair cost of $13,165. To say this was a bad customer care experience would be the understatement of the year. So let’s go to the scoreboard and do a final accounting for Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company on their relationship with Bob:
- Bob was abused by his customer care experience and has dropped Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company. He already has and will likely continue to tell everyone he knows about how bad his experience was.
- Adding in the $900 of rental expense that they did pay, Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company spent over $14,000 on this claim. Their handling of the situation also guaranteed that Bob will never spend another premium dollar with them, which over the course of his driving career will exceed $50,000.
- If the vehicle had been totaled (as it should have been) Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company would have recovered at least $4,000 for the salvage value of the vehicle and reduced their out of pocket cost to about $10,000. Bob would have bought another car in a timely manner, not been needlessly inconvenienced and continued his relationship (and premium payments) with Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company.
When the marketing of a product or service is more important than the quality and value of the product or service the customer and the company both lose. In the short term Bob took a beating. But what is the long term viability of a company that treats it’s customers this way? Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company will likely continue to sell a lot of policies due to their massive advertising budget and the lure of “cheap” insurance. I wonder how many referrals they get from satisfied customers?