I had an extremely circular conversation with Becky from the Co-Operative car insurance team today. I was very (very) good as I didn’t allow any hint of frustration or incredulity slip into my voice. Nonetheless, having had a 20 min chat with the Co-Op Home Insurance – my home insurance provider – Customer Services team who ended up assuring me in unequivocal terms that the included legal protection policy extended to motor cars and all things related Becky insists that the home insurance part – “nuffink to do wiv us” – are wrong.
“I asked and my manager says no…”.
Can you see how good I was not to get frustrated or be incredulous? The Co-Op is The Co-Op is The Co-Op, end of discussion. The letterheads are similar, the font identical, colours the same etc etc. I already buy insurance from them and they provide the electricity. It’s The Co-Op and that’s as far as I care.
Not for The Co-Op apparently. We are one but we are totally different is how they operate. I suggested to young Becky that she might like to direct her manager towards page 24 of the home insurance policy document which, sadly, I have read. It is very specific in the exclusions and cars ain’t in it. Anywhere. Nein. Nada. Nach. You get the idea. Deaf ears because….wait for it….”my manager says no”.
Gotta love joined up thinking in companies. It is doubly frustrating because I want the Co-Op to be good. I am emotionally invested in their brand, which is something they just don’t seem to get.
After all that the quote was twice that of elsewhere. 25 min on the dog’n’bone, but I did hang out all the washing and do the dishes so not really a loss of time.
This post is me getting ahead of things and guessing the outcome of a chat I intend to have. The reason I am doing this is to show how previous interactions with a supplier can inform customer expectations of future interaction. In this instance I am the customer. Bear with me for the preamble as it sets the scene for my point.
I love to swim. For fitness and not competition but I do 5-7km per week. I – along with many others – am a regular user of the local pool. This is no longer owned by the council as a truly publicly owned and run amenity but has been sold to a third party leisure services provider. I have no idea of the exact arrangements but it does mean that I am now dealing with a private firm and not a public service. They are called Nexus.
I have come to expect a higher level of service from a private provider. When I started swimming enough to go to a direct debit, all you can eat, payment model for my swimming I had to fill out myriad forms. The most interesting was the Direct Debit form and the fact that (it is the only way to pay for this option) it attracts a £10.00 administration fee!
Get this; I am being charged for their administrative costs. This staggers me. It’s their business. Surely their business model accounts for administrative work that they need to do?
Mrs S. and I have a joint account and Mrs S already has an all you can eat swimming DD set-up. Ahh, I thought, I have a cunning idea which will be both appreciated by Nexus and save me a tenner. I’ll just ask them to increase the amount taken to cover both of us.
*Note: Direct Debit’s (DD) are a unique tool for UK banks. The company needs to be sufficiently solvent to do this. In return, when I sign a DD then the company has the power tio vary the amounts take. It is a good set-up as the consumer can cancel it with a call, the scheme is indemnified and the business can vary the amounts taken. Everyone’s a winner.
“Oooohhh no sir, we can’t do that. Far too complicated, love to help just not poss etc etc etc” What!!!!To cut a long story short I gave up raging against the machine and just paid my tenner and had Nexus set up a completely new (yet identical) DD on our account. Madness but madness mandated in the rules. After all, following the rules is far far more important than applying common sense. After all, an outbreak of common sense might lead to people thinking for themselves and we wouldn’t want that now would we?
That’s the background.
The pool in Thame can get quite busy and the water gets very choppy between lanes. If you have seen a swimming competition on telly or live you’ll notice the lane ropes that they use are many discs strung together. In short, these dampen the choppiness between lanes. In the Thame pool the most rudimentary old school lane ropes are used and they have lost most of their floats. The function of the colour changes in the lane ropes is to indicate, primarily to backstrokers, when the end of the pool is approaching. Something the old school ropes don’t do at all well. Wouldn’t it be great if our pool used the modern (relatively – 30 years old now) lane ropes? Perhaps they don’t own them. Afterall, times are tight so no one is going to be lashing out money on a set of these?
But wait, it turns out the pool has (owned by Nexus and not the local swimming club) these ropes nicely coiled away on the storage drum. “Why aren’t these being used?” I enquired of some staff and a swim coach I know. Reply; “Ah yes. They are a lot more hassle and we only use them for swimming galas.” So this means that the main revenue stream of the regular users get the rubbish old ropes whilst the nice ones are kept for a maximum of four times a year.
Great British customer service. I am not looking to make your experience better because it means more work for me.Wonderful. I feel like a really valuable customer. Thanks, Nexus.
I intend to ask the new in post manager if they could see their way to using the decent lane ropes. Based on the DD madness I reckon I’ll get fobbed off. And that’s even before I have asked the question. Just goes to show how easy it is to get a poor reputation as I am all mentally geared up for a fight which I wish doesn’t happen. Amaze me please, Mr New Manager.