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January 8, 2014

The 3 Basic Principles of the Customer Experience

My wife and I just finished going through the process of deciding which health insurance we wanted for 2014.  Believe it or not, even with all of the “stuff” going on right now related to health insurance, the process actually started out just fine.  And then the wheels fell off.

Our broker was having no luck getting updated premium quotes from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST), so I decided to try myself.  I got through on the phone (pretty quickly, too) to a nice young man.  He pulled up my records, confirmed my current premium and told me (to the penny) what my new one would be.  An 18% increase – not great, but better than I expected.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the official renewal letter arrived from BCBST… showing a 36% increase!  I was shocked!  And angry!  Not so much at the increase… by at the prospect of being lied to.

I called back only to learn that BCBST had made plan increases on December 31st… the last day possible (when most purchasing decisions had already been made)!  I was furious.  And other than switching plans or insurance companies, there was not much I could do.

My insurance woes aside, there were three very valuable customer experience lessons to learn here (that apply to all businesses):

  • Shoot straight!  Don’t lie, mislead or hide from the truth.  People can deal with anything… as long as they know what they’re dealing with.
  • Over-communicate to your staff.  As changes happen in your firm (and they happen continually), make sure everyone in your shop knows what’s going on – especially anyone who touches clients or prospects.
  • Train your people – on both hard and soft skills.  That is, not only on products, services and policies… but also how to effectively communicate them to clients and prospects.

If my first contact at BCBST had simply said, “Mr. Henke, these costs are not final,” or “I honestly don’t know what the final costs would be,” then, at least, the official letter would not have been so much of a shock!

Here’s the bottom line… had BCBST followed those three principles, I would still not be happy about a 36% increase… but my feelings about BCBST would not have changed.  My opinion of their brand would not have been irreparably harmed.   And I would not be writing a blog post expressing my frustration and anger over the entire situation.

Don’t let this happen to your firm.  Follow these three principles of customer experience to ensure that you have satisfied and (more importantly) loyal clients.

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