Every financial services provider promises first-class ervice. Yet, broadly speaking, the 21st century service
mantra is: The customer is always
wrong. And is usually a pain in the neck.
The insurance industry has
somewhat unfairly had a poor
reputation in this regard since the 18th
century, because it only pays claims
for risks it has insured, which has not
proved to be a hugely popular policy.
Customers have grown accustomed
to the run-around (please hold); the
denial (see paragraph 14b); the refusal
(claim denied); and ;nally, if the stars
are aligned, the settlement (now go
away). These tactics often offend retail
customers who live in a delusional
world where they expect attention, but
lawyerless and ignorant, ;nd that when
service is denied, they do not stand equal
in power to the giant corporations.
The extent to which I expect
laughably poor service has been driven
home to me by my bank of the past
49 years, from whom, like Rodney
Danger;eld, I don’t get no respect ...
— in search of which I ;rst visited
another old-style retail bank. Wait
three weeks for an appointment, they
said. Nah, I thought. On a whim, I
waltzed into Metro Bank, a newcomer,
and breezed out half an hour later with
a new checking account — and a smile.
My old bank couldn’t tell me if
my debit card would be renewed, and
bridled when I suggested that was no
help. Metro made me a card on the
spot, and I’d never been in the store
before. From customer services rep
Michael Jones’s window, I could see my
old bank, 200 years across the road.
Metro is the ;rst national retail
bank opened in Britain in a century,
apparently. It’s based on a revolutionary
model: treating customers as if they
were not vermin. Imagine that!
Mr. Jones was downright friendly,
even charming. He called my home
later, to make sure everything was OK.
Experiencing actual customer service
almost brought me to tears, and I’m
Oddly, Metro Bank doesn’t refer to
itself as a bank. It’s a group of stores,
which is exactly what retail banks are
in the here and now. It’s where people
who don’t bank online obtain the
necessaries. American founder Vernon
W. Hill II runs the stores, which are
open seven days a week. Other banks,
until recently, opened for only a few
hours, ;ve days a week.
If this sounds like an ad for Metro
Bank, it isn’t. Come to think of it, I
had to give them money (to put in my
It’s banking 2.01, an industry
disrupter. The hardest part for Mr. Hill
must have been persuading potential
investors that treating customers as
if they mattered made any kind of
economic sense at all.
Insurers of personal lines, take note.
We, the people, are widely starved of
;rst-class service. Offer us some, and
we’re yours. Do it soon, or someone
will disrupt you.
Once the dust had settled, Metro sent
me a letter. It said, “Thanks for joining
the revolution.” Now I’m a comrade,
not a customer. Dasvidaniya. &
ROGER CROMBIE is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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BY ROGER CROMBIE