Great expectations.

I have followed with interest the merger of my current medical insurer provider with a large Aussie-based provider, thus becoming New Zealand’s second largest medical insurer.

My first contact was a reassuring DM pack. Well, ‘pack’ might be over selling it. It was a single-sided A4 letter actually. But it said all the right things – valued customer … blah, blah … benefits stay the same … blah, blah … no price increase … blah, blah … second largest medical insurer … blah, blah … easy to claim ….

So same, same but different. Duly noted and filed.

Then came the TV launch featuring a rather awkward performance from a well-known Kiwi league player. The clear message – we want you to claim New Zealand! After all, what’s the point of paying for something you never use. We make it so easy.

Hey, there’s that word ‘easy’ again.

Then came the real life experience. My 20-year-old daughter needed a tonsillectomy. Thank goodness for my private medical insurance. So we downloaded the claim forms (oh, so many forms) from the website and proceeded to complete them.

OMG. I consider myself to be a reasonably patient individual of above average intelligence, but these forms pushed me to the edge! Trying to work out which sections you were meant to complete using the often conflicting descriptions of your options, plus collecting all the required pieces of paper and signatures from the GP, specialist, anaesthetist and hospital, was a nightmare. Finally, when I was at the point of removing the tonsils myself, I relented and rang the call centre who, with a “I can’t believe you can’t work this out for yourself” attitude, set me right.

All of which left me with the distinct feeling that they were really trying to make it as difficult as possible for me to make a claim in the hope that I would give up and they could keep hold of their money (well, my money actually that I’ve been religiously paying to them for around 20 years!).

Which leads me to the moral of this story. If you’re going to set up a customer expectation, you better be damn sure you can follow through on it if you don’t want some very disgruntled and underwhelmed customers on your hands.

It’s all too easy to glibly throw around words like ‘simple’, ‘easy’ and ‘hassle-free’ without thoroughly interrogating all aspects of your business to ensure your can deliver on the promise. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Author: Drew Ayers, Creative Director – justONE