When Technology and Common Sense Don’t Match


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Our company has been purchasing health insurance from the same provider for the last 10 years. I’m in the customer retention business. I counsel my clients on how to provide excellent customer service in order to get repeat business. So loyalty to my suppliers is also part of my ethic. After all, it should be a two-way street. Back to the insurance company; as you might surmise, the monthly premium for our organization’s health plan is quite significant, as it is for any entity these days.

Last week, I was shocked when I received a letter that read, “according to our records your company has an unpaid balance and if we do not receive the payment within the grace period, your company’s insurance will be terminated.”

What was the unpaid balance? $2!

I was pretty miffed and thought to myself, doesn’t anybody look at the criteria for this type of notice being sent to a customer? Of course I called the company and spoke to a representative. She robotically informed me that I owed $2 and to make sure I sent in the additional amount either separately or with the next month’s payment, but definitely by the end of the month to insure our plan remained active.

I responded with, you understand that we are talking about a $2 balance, which was obviously just an error when the check was written or simply my handwriting was misread. She said yes, it’s $2. I then asked, what if the amount was a penny, would I receive a letter threatening to cancel our insurance? Silence on the phone. Finally, the representative asked me if I had any other questions and thanked me for my call.

Technology has made us all more productive and created efficiency so we are free to do bigger and better things. An unpaid balance automatically triggers the system. However, common sense still makes sense. First, to send a letter warning of a pending cancellation to a valued customer, coupled with a representative only reading from a script that doesn’t allow for any immediate resolution to a $2 mistake, doesn’t make any common sense to me.

Do you agree?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


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