Last November we reported on an American Express study on customer service and what consumers are looking for. According to the report, which was produced by an independent testing firm and is based on customer surveys of thousands of individuals, it was found that regardless of technology, resources or access to multiple modes of 24/7 communication, the attitude and desires of the customer -- and the things that determine whether he or she is likely to be happy or disappointed -- haven't changed with the times.
Most customers still don't think service is good enough, much less getting better: Only about a third of those surveyed believe businesses have increased their focus on customer service. Only 7 percent said that the customer service interactions typically exceed their expectations. And only 23 percent think that companies "value their business and will go the extra mile for them." Less than a quarter of the consumer base think business is doing a good job.
Which brings us to this: We take great pride in lifting up companies and businesses that provide good to great customer service. That is what our advertising agency and our business broadcast does. That also allows us the right to point out problems in customer service and bring those to the attention of the business affected.
That was the case this week in two very different set of circumstances. In December I signed up for health care insurance through Coventry Health Care of Iowa. When I got the application there were health questions. I thought that was odd but went ahead and filled it out and sent it in. My application was approved and my monthly premium came to $255.60. I sent a check and ten days later, following the cashing of the check, I received notice that I needed to pay the premium. During the next several weeks more confusing billing notices arrived. Then this week I received a notice that I needed to pay $276.00. It was at that point I issued a strongly worded email, not to the agent but direct to Coventry.
And, here is the purpose of the post: Rather than ignore my letter they acted on it within hours. Two or three calls later from billing experts to media relations people the issue was resolved. Now, had I not been a member of the media would it have been so swift? Based on my honest conversation with all the folks involved I believe so. There have been some amazing changes to the health care system over the past year and I think, similar to the government health care website, folks were unprepared for the many moving targets.
That being said the issues were resolved because of “old school” interaction and communication. Something to remember the next time you are faced with an consumer issue. As the American Express Survey concludes, “Customers want access on their terms; fast, effective and personal service when needed; and courtesy, attentiveness and empathetic treatment.” Coventry…gets it.