Seriously? In This Economy You Can Afford To Offer Bad Customer Service?

I think  most people who know me would say I’m pretty fair.  I don’t immediately fly off the handle at a drop of a hat.  I am someone who will give you 3 strikes before calling you out.  So it is fair to say I gave VPI Pet Insurance more than their fair share of strikes.  I’m just utterly blown away by the experience I had today with VPI.  All because I wanted to cancel my policy.  I will say that at the beginning I wanted only to cancel my policies for now and had all hopes of reinstating them at a later point.  That point is now NEVER going to come.  VPI blew it big time.

Below is the email I sent to their customercare@petinsurance.com.  First part about canceling the policies and the numbers have been left off.  I’m still realing after this interaction.  I would never in good consceience recommend this place to ANYONE because of the bad customer experience I had today.  Sad to say one really bad experience can negate previous good ones.  Worst part is if the supervisor had taken a different route with me a lot of my frustration could have dissapated – she just added to it.

I’ve attached 2 screen shots to explain the problems I was having with your web site.  The first one shows you that I have all the information filled in and all the boxes dealt with correctly.  The 2nd screen shot is the message I got after clicking on submit.  I called to make sure there was no changes pending (as I have not submitted any claims or made any changes for 6 months) – there were no changes to my account that anyone could find.

As someone who has not only worked in customer service but also in Information Technology for over 25 years this was the worst experience I’ve had dealing with both a web site and people via the phone.  If you want your customers to be able to manage their accounts (make claims, cancel, etc.) you need to make your web site is web standards complaint (any browser, any operating system and interoperability/accessibility for all no matter what their situation might be).  At first I tried your web site in latest version of Firefox on Ubuntu (Linux) and was unable to do so.  At first I thought perhaps you were down or having problems with the site so I decided to try later.  2 weeks later (today) I try again – after filling out all the info and checking boxes (see 1st screenshot) I see a small box flash quickly (something about searching a database) and then I get the same page I was on.  I felt as if things didn’t go through correctly.  So I called the first time to verify.  I explain to that person (sorry he didn’t give me his name) and I explained in a calm voice that I was frustrated but trying to cancel my policies.  I told him about my experience.  He was (out of the 3 people I talked to) the best.  He explained that I should see another screen, he was patient with me and I with him.  I asked him if the site didn’t work with Firefox and he put me on hold to check.  Someone (don’t know who) told him the only problem they were aware of was Safari (which means you are limiting your whole MacIntosh user base).  I told him I’d try again on my WindowsXP machine.

Tried Firefox again but on WindowsXP and experienced the same problem.  I then decided to try Internet Explorer – I was able to get further than I had but was presented with a box saying that changes were still pending on one of my accounts and you couldn’t cancel my policies.  (see screen shot 2)  At this point I again called your company.  Amy helped me this time.  Although she was nice I don’t think she understood the problems I was having and after more than 30 mins of trying to cancel my policies I needed this escalated to someone who understood web browsers as well as your policies.  I asked to speak to a supervisor or possibly someone on the web team.  After several mins have gone by I finally get to speak to Jeanette.  No offense but if you have a customer who up until that point had been kind, calm and understanding but extremely frustrated and asking for a supervisor – that is not the time to try and sell me on your policies or lowering my coverage.  At that point you need to see to my frustration and needs by doing that you may have retained me as a customer.  She asked to hear my story (and I wanted to give her the details of what happened) before I had finished she cut me off and didn’t want to hear anymore.  That was just plain rude.  I lost it.  I could understand if I was being rude or if I had been yelling at her but I was not.  There was no excuse for cutting me off.  She didn’t even hear all of the problem before she just jumped in.  She was curt and rude with me for the rest of the call.  At one point I wanted to let her know that I was not happy with my customer experience and I was letting others know this.  I told her I was Twittering this.  She assumed I was trying to cancel via Twitter (NO I’m not stupid but I do have a fair following on my social networks and many of them are pet lovers like me).  She curtly asked me if I had sent the email only moments after I wrote down the information.  HUH?  Come now you need information from me, I need to log into my account – how on earth did she expect me to send an email within seconds.  She informed me that the calls are monitored.  If that is so I certainly hope as a supervisor she is given better training on dealing with customers.  Interrupting, being insulting and rude are not values we instill in my work place with our customer service staff.

I expect my policies to be canceled effective today. I don’t expect anything more than to make sure your web portal is web standards compliant and will actually ALLOW your customers to use it and to educate your customer service staff in how to best give GOOD customer service.

This is really a shame because up until today I had been a loyal customer.  In the past my phone calls have only resulted in the best customer service interaction (especially one kind lady who even called me back and walked me through a procedure to ensure I got all that was due).  But after frustration with the web site, dealing with a supervisor who doesn’t know how to deal with customer service I don’t have the same high opinion of your company as I once did.

My Tweets:

  1. @AAHAHelpingPets I’d have to say #unfollowfriday to VPI after the experience I had today. Bad customer service and poor web portal.

  2. I sense another blog post coming on – must be record bad customer service week.

  3. @rachelrapp Funny thing is one woman I spoke to (3 people total) was named Amy – my Amy knows customer service

  4. Even told the woman Jeanette I believe she said that I was Twittering about this. So VPI Pet Insurance I recommend you clean up your act.

  5. Condescending supervisor asked for my story then doesn’t want to hear it all. BAD customer service rep. VPI Pet Insur. major fail.

  6. FAIL – your site doesn’t work in Firefox or Safari and only on Windows?!! VPI pet insurance no wonder I’m canceling my policies.
Advertisements

Day in the Life – Reality Bites

Day 4 of week of keeping track of what librarians or library workers do so we can see the diversity of the jobs we do.

Thursday January 29, 2009

Today I’m not at work.  I wasn’t going to blog about this but I thought we all could learn that library workers are people too.

5:00 – alarm goes off but I’m somewhat already awake – jump in shower, get dogs outside, feed dogs, feed me (Special K Cinnamon Pecan cereal)

5:45 – pester hubby to wake up

6:00 – really pester hubby we have to leave no later than 6:15

6:18 – gee, guess that didn’t work right leave home to go to John Hopkin’s OutPatient Center

7:29 – arrive finally at parking garage – hubby runs to building while I park car

7:33 – start my travel through the maze that is John Hopkins until I find myself finally in the waiting room of Blalock 5 ( learn more about Alfred Blalock watch Something The Lord Made – starring Alan Rickman and Mos Def)

Now the fun begins.  Wait in the waiting room until hubby is called.  I can’t go back with him at first but they promise they’ll call me.  Not too long a wait before the nurse calls me back to the prep room my husband is in.  He is already talking to one of the doctors who will be doing the procedure.  Then Dr. Jon Resar the cardiologist gives us a run down on the cardiac catherization procedure.  A woman comes in and asks Jon if he’d be willing to be part of a study that they are doing about patients who take Plavix (which he was given prior to the procedure) and he agrees (just involves blood taken before and after the procedure).

Then come the sleepy drugs and not too long after that the nurses wheel him out to the OR.  I joke that my always boiling hot husband will like the OR room since it is very cold in there.  I go downstairs to the cafeteria to find my vice – Diet Coke.  I was there for about 10 mins and then returned to the waiting room on the 5th floor.  I pulled out my trust Nintendo DS Lite and about 10 mins later (if that) Dr. Resar came to tell me the procedure was over!  Wow.  As he walked me to the recovery area he warned me that he was going to read my hubby the riot act.  I told him good.  He needs to hear this from someone other than me.  He needs to lose weight and exercise more.  He has heart disease as well as diabetes in his family history and already has high cholestrol and high blood pressure.  Some of his arteries were 30% blocked and one was 40% blocked.  The doctor wanted it to not get any worse than that but Jon has to make some serious changes.

While Jon napped in recovery I sat there surfing our library’s catalog for every book on heart healthy diets and ways to help him live to ripe old age.  Finally around 12:00 he was able to get up use the bathroom, walk around the nurse’s station and was discharged at 12:30.

That day we started our new leaf together.  We may have eaten out for lunch but no alcohol and we went for healthier food options on the menu.  By no means will this be easy but neither of us has a choice (well we do but I don’t think we like the alternative).

25 Things About Lil Ol Me

There has been a Facebook/Friendfeed and probably elsewhere Meme going around (although folks aren’t really tagging people they [like me] are just jumping on the bandwagon).  Well to not be left out (actual I thought it might be interesting to see what I could come up with) here are 25 Things you may or may not know about me:

  1. I’ve had a total of 3 years of voice training from 2 very talented voice teachers (one of them recently found me on Facebook).
  2. I sang for many years in a church choir as a first soprano.
  3. My favorite choral piece to sing is Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata (with brass quintet).
  4. Music has always been a big part of my life (flute, organ and voice lessons).  I’m always with music (XM radio in car, Grooveshark-Finetune-Pandora-LastFm on computer, iPod when mowing the lawn, etc.)
  5. I’ve worked basically for the same place of employment since I was 16 years old.  Started on Feb. 1, 1980 and only left for 1 year before coming back.
  6. Other library positions I’ve held outside of my current POW – periodicals and acquisitions depts. at Catsonville Community College.
  7. I’ve done my fair share in the retail arena as well – Roy Rogers (fast food), Musicland (record store), Gantos (clothes store) and Target.
  8. I had never been on a plane until 1998 and then I flew to Hawaii for my first airplane ride.
  9. I’ve been to Paris, Spain (Andulacia region), England and Australia (New Zealand too if you count layover in the airport).
  10. I’m an only child and the mother of an only child but my Mother is 1 of 12.
  11. I’m very particular about color.  One of my favorite books from childhood is “The Color Kittens” by Margaret Wise Brown.  Colors if not right really bother me (be it paint, web sites, etc.)
  12. Humor is very important to me.  Guess that explains why I use it as a defense mechanism.  Favorite comedians include Eddie Izzard, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Robert Klein, and all time fav George Carlin.
  13. I have had an Oscar night party for 8 out of the last 10 years.  Complete with evening dress, champagne, voting (sometimes prizes), and decorations.  It is being requested that I do it again this year so I will host once more for the 81st Academy Awards.
  14. I can often be a Johnny-come-lately when something becomes TOO popular.  E.G. Harry Potter and LOST – both I finally gave into after most everyone were on board.  Now HUGE fan of both.
  15. If I had to pick a sport that is my favorite it would be baseball.  I think my love of it comes from my Dad who used to play softball (he played shortstop) and took me to many a Baltimore Orioles game (even got my picture taken with Mark Balengar who played shortstop for the O’s).
  16. I’m highly allergic to cats, somewhat to horses and guinea pigs but not dogs.  Thankfully since I have had 4 dogs in my lifetime so far – currently own a Lab Mix [Dani] and an English Springer Spaniel [Maddie].
  17. I’ve had the honor of seeing Raul Julia & Kevin Kline (Arms and the Man), Yul Brynner (The King and I), Ben Vereen (Pippin), and Carol Channing (Hello Dolly) perform live.
  18. I was half of the lead couple that did the Virginia Reel as part of Ellicott City’s bicentennial celebration at my elementary school which has now been turned into condos.
  19. I’m married to a Englishman who came here in 2001 (right after 9/11).
  20. If I hadn’t wound up working at the library I could have been a caterer who designs interiors while being a secretary for lawyers.
  21. My first computer was an Atari – I’ve used Windows, Mac and now Linux – I’ll take the Linux thank you very much (it’s on my desktop and laptop at home and main work machine).
  22. One game I’ve not played that everyone else seems to is World of Warcraft.  Now if they only made a Linux version.
  23. I like mowing the grass.  We have 2 acres and it’s my time to zone out, crank my tunes and have some alone time.  Besides I take pride in doing a nice job getting around the trees my husband hates to deal with.
  24. I wrote poetry for a brief time (probably influenced by the poet I was dating at the time).  Once we broke up I have not written poetry since but it helped at the time.
  25. I believe everyone enters your life for a reason.  Some are there for a short time while others stay longer – everyone is there to teach you a lesson.

Open Mouth, Insert Both Feet

*sigh*  I should have known it wasn’t going to be a good day.  Both dogs (Lab mix and English Springer Spaniel) slept with me last night but due to windows being opened decided to alert me every 2 hours that something was in our yard.  God knows if there really was anything out there other than our usual visitors (deer).  But my sleep circle was off to say the least.

I seem to be on a roll today.  I’ve managed to open mouth insert foot at least 3 times this morning.  Twice on the web and once in person (although that one was a setup by my boss who was laughing the whole time).  That maybe a new record.

I’ve prided myself, up until now, on keeping snarky/opinionated comments out of social networking feeds.  For several reasons – a) my feeds are subscribed to by more than just family or friends but many co-workers and fellow library people and b) the old adage still holds true … “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  Obviously I didn’t follow directions well today.

I made the terrible mistake of commenting on something from our staff Intranet.  It was my opinion but since it wasn’t worded in the best manner it should have stayed inside my head where it would have done no harm.  Instead I vocalized to the social networking community.  I thought I was being smart by not posting it to Twitter but to FriendFeed instead.  Something told me that I should haven’t posted it but I thought “Pshaw, no one will read this on FriendFeed so I’m safe.”  FAIL!

I completely forgot that not only Twitter but FriendFeed as well feeds into my Facebook account.  Lo and behold the comment that I didn’t want known was read by the person I didn’t want to read it because they are a friend on Facebook.   How’d did I find this out?  That person graciously sent me a humorous comment on my status.  Talk about 20 shades of red.

So what did I learn?  Don’t post snarky/opinionated comments to your social networking sites?  No, I knew not to do that but instead I learned that if I don’t have anything nice to say that it belongs inside my head not out on the web.

So since I publicly made a comment I figured the best way to apologize is to also do it publicly and ironically through social networking sites.  My blog feeds into Twitter, FriendFeed and my Facebook account.  So hopefully the gracious person with a great sense of humor will read my most sincere apology and know that I learned a big lesson today.  I can’t thank them enough for not calling me out but instead using humor to diffuse what could have been a nasty situation if they had chosen that route.  They took the high road where I did not.  I am humbled by their choice and will apply it to all my future Tweets/Feeds/Posts.