I had an email come into my inbox, from a well-known insurance comparison site. Turns out our house insurance is due for renewal. To take the hard work out of it, they'd already found the best price based on the information they had in their database from previous years.
All I needed to do was to click on the 'Buy Now' link.
The link takes me to a page on the insurance company's new website. They've had themselves a re-brand by the looks of it. All shiny and new with bright colours, clever use of copywriting and there's even a playful animated character that they've carved out of their brand name.
The web page then throws up a load of new questions that I needed to answer before moving forward:
When was the last time you made a claim?
What kind of business do you run from home?
Do you have clients come and visit your property?
Do you own any vehicles?
Are you the main breadwinner?
Hmmm, how odd?
I answer the questions anyway, hit 'send' and instantly I'm looking at a new screen that reads 'We cannot process this quote, please call this number'.
Already, I can see where this is going.
I call the number and eventually get through to the voice of a young woman. She asks me if I already have a policy with them (which I didn't) and she comments "I'm not sure why you came through to me, this number is for existing policies, I'll have to put you through to the quote team".
Awesome. Cue 15 minutes of sitting in a queue (that's English folks!), until finally I'm greeted by the voice of a young man.
Him: "Hello, how may I help you?"
Me: "Hi, I have a reference number from a comparison site if that helps?"
Him: "Yes, fire away..."
I give the reference number, and some minutes later he reads me some policy information and then gives me the price, which was more than the quote I had been given via email.
Me: "That's not right, that's nearly forty pounds more than I've been quoted"
Him: "Ah yes, well you see, insurance prices tend to fluctuate and this is today's price!"
Me: "I've just received the quote in an email from the comparison site, this morning"
Him: "Yes, but they might have pulled in prices from yesterday as insurance policies tend to fluctuate in price and this is today's price"
I wanted to punch something.
He then asked me If we'd made a claim in the past five years. I explain that back in 2017 we did, for a mobile phone that my young daughter decided to drop in the bath by accident. We claimed, our policy went through the roof the year later, it's all part of our insurance history and therefore should be in our database file.
Him: "Give me a couple of minutes, I need to go and talk to my manager..."
Ten minutes later he comes back...
Him: "I've spoken with my manager and because you made a claim back in 2017..." and then he gives me another new price which has been escalated by another twenty-five pounds.
At this point, I realise it's all been a bad mistake.
At the moment the 'Buy Now' link threw up the 'We cannot process this quote' page, I should have bailed.
It's a ploy.
I might as well have Googled 'Home insurance' and spent the next hour looking at random prices.
So I bid him farewell and put the phone down.
Seriously, who's falling for this?
What a horrible experience.
And now, what about their brand?
I mean, an unlimited design budget spent at the world's biggest agency still couldn't detract from the way that this experience left me feeling.
I went back on their website, had a mooch about and laughed at some of the marketing blurbs.
The 'we'll take the stress out of X" and the 'we're not like other companies...'
I sincerely hope you're not.
And so my takeaway from all of this, you may ask?
Well, I guess it's pretty simple really: Be what you say you are. Act like you say you are going to act.
Across your business, your brand and your customer service.
Be true to your word.
Put your feet in your customer's shoes and really consider what experiences they are having.
As a re-brand does not fix a business culture.
And a new logo does not make up for poor service.
Have you had any similar brand experiences? If so, I'd love to hear about them...