Cheque yourself before you wreck yourself

Offering options in the (mostly) digital world.

The insurance company we use to cover my wife’s car recently did us a good turn. They recognised that they had made an error in overcharging us (without us questioning them about it) and sent a letter and an attached cheque refunding the extra money they had taken from us.

All good so far.

What they couldn’t have known was that I bank with an organisation that only has a single branch in the city, a good twenty minutes’ walk from our office. Before sending the cheque the insurance company did not check (pun intended) if we wanted to get our money in another fashion.

Now walking during lunch to my branch was no real imposition, I need the exercise let’s be honest, but what got me thinking was what could they have done differently and what message were they sending to me by not consulting with me?

Are they grumpy with us? Are they trying to break up with us? Don’t they want our business?

If asked why they delivered the good news in this manner, I reckon the answer would be “We’ve always done it this way”. They may not have noticed the world changing around them. But the truth is if they stick to “This is the way we have always done it” type thinking, they could be losing customers they don’t need to.

I mean, if they had called me and had a conversation along the lines of “Hi Rob, we’ve made an error in our calculations and we owe you $50, how would you like us to get it to you? We can EFT it to you, send a cheque or you can apply it to next year’s premium.”

Which one would I have chosen? Probably the last option. And what would they have achieved as an organisation? Keeping me as a customer for another year. Easy huh? Sure, not everyone would have chosen that option and I imagine there is a section of the population that would indeed have preferred the cheque. However, almost everyone would enjoy the chance to choose.

Recently, I did some work with one of our clients on making some changes in their contact centre. They had been employing a very siloed approach to customer service. If you called about one thing they would answer you succinctly, professionally and with a smile in their voice. But if you needed to know about another product they offered they would have to shunt you off to speak to someone else. They did not even have access to the same systems and information you did as a customer.

They were doing a good job as far as the transaction bit went but they weren’t able to look at your bigger picture. The conversations were segregated and they were missing opportunities to have conversations about the customer’s whole situation and thus opportunities to help the customer and gain sales at the same time.

This was frustrating to both staff and customers. So when they changed things to encourage conversation over average handle time and provide staff opportunities to access the same information the customer had (and make suggestions based on that information) can you guess what happened?

Over $100 million in extra sales and an NPS increase of around 20 points in six months.

So the point I am attempting to make here is that there are multiple opportunities for organisations to make positive changes to the way they engage with their customers. Some of them even come from mistakes where intentions are good, like finding the overcharge of insurance.

Some of this is about the ease and choice that we hear more and more about customers wanting, well requiring really. However, it is also a matter of looking at and taking advantage of the real opportunities that present themselves for a business to contact its customers and grow and consolidate their relationship with them. These are only a couple of examples; how many more occasions exist for organisations to improve the relationship with their customers.

Rob is a Senior Consultant at CEC and brings over 20 years of industry experience. He has a background in contact centres, training and leadership in industries as diverse as IT, Communications, Government and Finance. You can contact Rob here.