Business fun stuff

23 minutes on the phone to my insurance co – where automation can help in a big way

I have just been on the phone to my car insurance company to change the names of two of the kids! What I mean is I added them to the policy on Monday and the insurance company got both names wrong as well as not putting my wife’s full name on.

I had to call because I couldn’t risk the scenario of them having an “incident” and not being able to claim because of their details not being right.

This phone call took me 23 minutes and 35 seconds. This is a classic case for automation of the process. I was sat at the end of the phone waiting for someone at the other end to manually enter name corrections onto their (painfully slow) system.

Whilst I was on the phone I also realised that the activation date of the policy was wrong.

If I had been able to log onto a portal to make these changes it would have saved both of us time and trouble – remember I almost certainly had to go through the same process and time on Monday when I first added the kids to the policy.

I have tried automated portals for insurance policies before and found that I always ended up wanting to ask a question so I would abort the process and make a phone call.

We have the same problem in the communications industry. The initial sales contact often needs human involvement because the products are not straightforward. It might be simple enough to order a broadband connection online but usually there are other products and services involved. Businesses don’t buy just broadband and when you buy something you want to be sure you are buying the right product. It’s a stage at which you need expert advice.

We are  investing a huge amount of time and money in to this area. This is not a big bang process where one day you will come in and – wow – be amazed at the overnight change. There are many aspects of running the business that need to be accommodated.

The most important of these is customer support which is one of the first areas to be upgraded. I do expect though that when we have finished, if that can ever be the case when talking about continuous improvement, customers will find dealing with us a dream.

The goal is to avoid finding ourselves in the situation I have just described with the insurance company. Neither party ends up happy as we will have both had to waste time and money on a problem that I could have fixed on my own in 30 seconds had I had the tools to do it.


Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

5 replies on “23 minutes on the phone to my insurance co – where automation can help in a big way”

Tref I really seem to be in tune with your outlook!

Were you on a premium or even 0844 (*kerching*) number?
You should name and shame the company.

Perhaps I’m a picky so and so and like things to be just right. Is that too much to ask? This is how I try to treat my clients. Quick/Polite/Efficient – simple!

It seems that nearly everybody/thing I deal with doesn’t work that way 🙁

BT Openreach are rubbish (there’s more to this ongoing sorry story):

Virgin mobile have a thread on their forum titled “be less rubbish” that is normally the most ‘kudoed’ (highly rated) thread – all because their customers are so frustrated with how they work.

I’ve just insured my 17yo son on his first car – and it’s been a ‘customer service’ nightmare.
This is his car The link on the page takes you to my other comments on car insurance. *grumpy old man* syndrome but I’m not that old! 😉

As I mention in the BTOR post on TBB:
It might just me, but why do you have to FIGHT for everything these days!
Pull your socks up Great Britain…

I’m nearly shocked when I meet a company that’s efficient and gets things right first time – that’s not right.

It’s good to hear that Timico seem to be more customer focused than most of the people out there 🙂

I’ve had a glass or 3 on this sunny Sunday so sorry if I’m ranting/rambling…

I’ve just spent three hours this week on the phone trying to contact HSBC, Capital One and NatWest all of which had similar degrees of frustration for their customer, aka ME!

HSBC was superb in that when you go into their automated menu system it asks you to put in your account number before it rejects it as not recognised. I then check and re-enter as I have been known to hit keypad digits over enthusiastically in the past, but NO, once again I hear Digital Betty’s dulcet tones of “please enter your 16 digit card number,” and as she sounds a very nice digitised lady I duly oblige. But oh no horror of horrors the system rejects “their” valid number and proceeds to dump me into a call queue that takes you to presumably, India, judging by the local dialect of those who answered. Unlike Digital Betty on the three times I got through I had to endure the words “Hello, hello, hellooooo caller, if you can hear me hang up and redial”.

Thanks but after doing this twice and on the 3rd attempt suggesting on deaf ears that the gentleman shouting at me might want to shove one of his onion bhajis where it shouldn’t really go, I decided to ring up and close my account – Your loss HSBC. And to think these places are regulated – allegedly.


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