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How does your leadership reflect upon your organization?

Recently I have been dealing with an insurance company trying to settle a claim I recently filed. During the course of dealing with this company I have learned a lot about the leadership of this company through the actions of their employees that have dealt with me directly. Today I spoke to the boss of one of these key people and I immediately understood why I had been getting the kind of treatment I had been getting. The person I was dealing with directly the  past several weeks was a reflection of his boss and his attitude towards dealing with his customers.

I am providing the company a chance to turn a bad situation into a good one even though they have failed at this several times already. I may or may not name the company at a later date. The purpose of this post is not to bash them, but instead learn a few lessons from their mistakes.

These are some of the messages I have received from my insurance company the past two weeks:

  1. We don't pride ourselves in excellent customer service.
  2. We don't care that you have been a loyal customer with no claims for 25+ years. You are merely claim #_________!
  3. Our profits and bonuses are more important than treating you fairly.
  4. If you want what is rightfully yours, you will have to fight us for it and spend countless hours writing emails and making phone calls to get it.
  5. Your emails and phone calls are not important enough to respond to promptly because we are extremely busy taking care of other more important customers or job duties. If you don't believe me, ask me, and I will tell you over and over again how busy I am.  "Message received! I am not important to you as a customer!"
  6. Even though we make commitments to you to do certain things for you we will not act upon them unless followed up on multiple times so as to move us to action.
  7. We are going to make it as difficult and uncomfortable for you to collect all the compensation due to you.
  8. We don't care if you think we are difficult to do business with. We know it and we don't really care if you don't like it.
  9. We make misleading statements hoping you don't catch on to what we are really saying.
  10. We try to confuse you with our terminology so that you don't understand what is going on so we can get by with paying you less.
  11. When you actually do catch us in "mistakes" or "things that are not addressed", we will make up some really good excuses for our oversights and try clever answers to throw you off the course of the true facts.

The above are some of the messages I have received from the people I have been dealing with the past month. The leadership of this organization is not displaying positive messages to me as a customer. Here are some questions to consider upon reflecting on this experience.

  • What does this reveal to you about the leadership of this team?
  • What messages are your customers getting from the actions of your front line employees?
  • How does your leadership get reflected throughout your organization?
  • What changes might you make to improve the impression you and your team are leaving on your customers?


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Comment by Peter A Ferguson on October 25, 2012 at 5:00pm

I recall a story in 7 Habits about a tyrant boss who's attitude reflected upon the entire team except for one member. It is really difficult to be that one person fighting back (no personal experience here ...) but what a relief it is to have a strong leader out in front! 

I take it very personally that all of our employees are ultimately a reflection of me and the training and leadership we provide. I have the current unique opportunity to reboot the program and put customer service first in the values and behaviors department. 

Thanks for the post!


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