How to get your customers to deliberately raise their own blood pressure…
“Payment Problems: Authorisation Declined Call us Immediately” … the title on a letter that dropped through my letterbox yesterday.
Now I know that my bank account balance could cover this house insurance renewal twenty times over, so I am looking at an administrative cock up. If you are like me when you see a letter like this your heart sinks. You know that you need to set aside at least 45 minutes of your busy day to deal with this… it may take less, but the last thing you want is to have to drop out of a call to a call centre when the end is in sight, to go to a meeting.
Your heart sinks again when you see “We will also charge you a failed payment fee of £25, as described under ‘Other Charges’ in the ‘Policy Payment Arrangements’ section….” … Now you are going to have to work yourself up into a truly Daily Mail tone of indignation in order to get them to waive the charge… adopting the full “Are you doubting my integrity young man?” approach to frighten the call-centre operative into speaking to their supervisor.
Turns out they tried to use a debit card that had expired and sure enough on page two of my renewal letter in small print … (page one of which reads “NO NEED TO CALL we will automatically renew.” in big blue letters!) …it showed the card details they planned to use including the expiry date as a month before the letter was printed.
A simple piece of computer programming could have been put in place that said – if the renewal date is later than the expiry date, then insert “Please call to give us some new card details as this one has expired” on page one of the letter.
But no… some clever-dick decided to send me a heart-stopping letter that forced me to take time out of my day, pretend to be a Daily Mail reader (stretching my acting skills to the limit) and make myself angry in order to avoid something deep in their terms & conditions.
There are two morals to this story:
Firstly: If you have to refer to your T&Cs then the relationship with the customer is already broken. Some legally-minded folks fail to see this.
Secondly: Stop people in your organisation from jumping to the conclusion that all customers are setting out to defraud you and need teaching a lesson. If they do they will write this assumption into the company systems.
PS I am now expecting a customer survey asking me how the operative handled my problem. Of course there will be no box to tick that says… Operative was fine (if a little scared), but your systems stink.