Pro Tip: Actually Listen to your Call Recordings Before Responding to a Complaint

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Most companies of any size routinely record calls to customer service, and in some industries it's a legal requirement.

So when a customer complaints that customer service told him one thing but the company did another, it might be a good idea to actually listen to the recording and find out what the customer was actually told.

Otherwise you might wind up like Anthem Blue Cross, featured (in a bad way) in the LA Times. You might also wind up featured in a lawsuit.

The story is that an Anthem member needed a fairly expensive medical proceedure. Like a good and careful consumer, he called Anthem to make sure his doctor was in-network and the proceedure would be covered.

Upon getting a "yes" on both counts, he went ahead and got the treatment.

Experienced readers will know what happens next, because we've seen this movie before: After the treatment, Anthem denied the claim saying the doctor was out of network.

But this time there's a plot twist, since the patient had recorded his earlier call to Anthem. You know, the one where customer service assured him the doctor was in-network and the proceedure was covered. He appealed Anthem's decision and included a recording of the call with the appeal.

Incredibly, Anthem denied the appeal, claiming the member had never been told the doctor was in-network or the operation would be covered--points directly contradicted by the member's recording of the call.

This is about the point where the LA Times (and the lawsuit) come in. I assume that this will now be settled promptly in the patient's favor, since even faceless bureaucracies have their limits.

There are two morals to this story: For companies, do your homework and use the tools at your disposal. It can avoid an expensive and embarassing stuation.

For consumers, it's a really good idea to record calls to companies you do business with. After all, they're recording you, you should feel no hesitation to record them.

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