I read this with disbelief. “Progressive settles with accident victim’s family after tale went viral” is a story of amazing corporate stupidity and self-interest that exploded online. Imagine the Progressive lawyers sitting on the defense side of the court as the bad driver is prosecuted. Read the article yet? Now what do you think of Progressive? A company to trust and do business with? Or one to avoid?
Only time will tell how much this case and the buzz created online will affect Progressive’s business. Their numbers may dip briefly but their image is now clearly tainted – at least for the segment of the population that uses the Internet to read the news, find information and transact business.
There are a growing number of examples of people in the public eye, and companies, doing what’s right for themselves and not what is right. In the case of Progressive they wanted to contain their expenses. In the case of British politicians the supplemented their income with spurious expenses, but got caught. Why did they do it? Because the system allowed them to do it.
I’m not promoting a lock-down of the system. More red tape and too many checks and balances just constrains to the point of suffocation. It creates hopeless, impossible situations for individuals and companies, and spawns an industry of smart people that work out what the rules don’t cover. No, I’m not promoting regulation, but I believe individuals and companies should think about what’s right for others.
Here are some customer service examples:
- My Samsonite trolley bag comes with a detachable liquids pouch for the airport security area. This broke after 4 years, I wanted to buy another, and Samsonite replaced it free of charge. I like Samsonite.
- I switched home broadband from O2 to BT. O2 kept taking money, telling me that BT hadn’t switched the service correctly. BT explained that they had. O2 hasn’t replied to two letters, or refunded the money. I don’t like O2.
- My garage, Belmont, misquoted (negative £40) for a service on my car. I said I’d pay the full amount as it was clearly a mistake. They insisted they’d charge what they quoted. I like Belmont.
Multiply this millions of times every day around the world and it becomes clear why customers like or don’t like companies. When companies stand by their customer, even though it costs them on that transaction, they can look forward to repeat business. Customer’s defect when they find out for themselves that they’re paying too much, but they become advocates when the company tells them there’s a more appropriate deal available.
It’s time for corporate honesty, because regulation doesn’t promote doing the right thing. Regulation creates an environment of hair-splitting and legal argument, of blame and game-playing. Mind you, customers need to be honest, too, or this will never work.
What do you think, is honesty the way forward?