When you're looking for examples of inconsistent service and inadequate deployment of technology, nothing beats the travel industry. Even the most successful business trip probably includes at least one close call, glitch or aggravation provided by a careless or clueless service provider. But at least these screw-ups provide clear object lessons to insurance companies about the limits and opportunities of technology, and how easy it is for a relationship to go sour. Recent incidents reminded me of this truism.
While planning an upcoming vacation, my husband reserved a rental car through a well-known travel portal. When it turned out that we didn't need the car, the task of canceling the reservation required the patience of a saint. When hubby called the number printed with our confirmation, a pleasant recording told him that the wait for a service representative would be several hours (not kidding). Trying to access the reservation online was even more futile. When I finally called up the reservation, I was greeted by a screen that said, "We have your reservation but cannot display the information at this time." Luckily, I found another toll-free service number. At this point, I wasn't surprised that the automated menu did not allow me to cancel the reservation. So I waited a mere 20 minutes to speak to a nice lady who canceled the reservation. When I related my saga to her, she assured me that someone would follow up with me about my complaint. A week later, I'm still waiting.
I'll need another column to report on my suitcase that, somehow, just didn't make it onto the (half-full) flight from O'Hare to Newark last week. Mistakes happen, but when they seem to stem from carelessness - or worse - one wants to take one's business elsewhere. No company is so successful that it can encourage that response.
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio