Online shopping should be a painless experience, right? Aviva, the UK insurance company are certainly trying to convey that impression in their current ads starring comedian Paul Whitehouse.
Unfortunately, their online systems appear to be programmed by comedians with rather less talent. I’ve been using Aviva for years, since before their expensive rebranding from tried-and-trusted Norwich Union.
We own a couple of properties. At the appointed time, Aviva reminded me by email that one of the property insurances was due for renewal, and that I could save 25% by renewing online. “Simples”, I thought. How wrong I was.
Expecting that in a few clicks I would be done, I followed their instructions. Only to find that the insurance policy wasn’t shown on my list of policies. No matter where I looked, there seemed no way to add it. I felt my Viva draining away. So I resorted to the phone.
Press 1 for frustration, press 2 for more frustration, press 3 for ...
After holding on and navigating my way through the inevitable IVR system, I got to speak to a human being. I’ll give her credit, she was trying to be helpful, and could speak intelligible English. I explained that I was only phoning her because their online system had failed me, and that I expected to pay the online rate.
I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised that despite all this, she still quoted me the price for renewing over the phone - without the online discount. So I pressed, explained that I was only calling because their online systems had failed me, and she gave way. At least that was a result. I had my policy renewed. But the Aviva system was still broken.
I just don't get the Aviva deal...
I felt it my civic duty to help Aviva diagnose and deal with the root cause. So I left a comment on the web site, using the only mechanism available to me. No response. A few days later, I made a more forceful compliant, and got a response. But not the one I wanted.
Because of the “way the policy had been set up” (this was the full extent of their explanation), they could not consolidate the policy with the others. I would have to manage it separately. I felt my Viva draining away faster, so I responded asking them to change the way the policy was set up. No reply.
Not so simples
I thought I should try logging in again this morning to see if they had fixed the problem without telling me. And guess what? Now I can’t see any of my policies at all. Well, at least that makes it simple. I won’t have to bother considering them when it comes time to renew the other policies.
You can bet that I’ll be comparing the market when that time comes around. And Aviva will have lost a previously valuable customer.
You have to be on top of your game on line
So here’s a thought: if you rely on the web to improve your customer’s experience, do you understand what it’s really like to step into their shoes? And if the expectations you have set are not realised, could promoting your web services actually drive customers away, and into the arms of companies that better understand how to create a great online experience?