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What do we only write letters when we are pissed?

“I’m going to write a letter!!”  This seems to be synonymous with anger these days.  It means you are so mad, that you are going to write your experience down and share it with the powers that be.  To share a bad experience, to try and get your way, to let someone REALLY know how you feel.  Why do we only write them when we are pissed through?

Last month, I received two letters (actually emails, you have to be totally unglued to write an actual letter) that were polar opposites.   One was from an ex client who moved out of state. He called my office to ask about something and we realized he still had a policy in force that he thought was cancelled two months ago.

Turns out, he didn’t submit the proper paperwork for this specific policy and it didn’t cancel.  Before I left that day on March 6th, I emailed him the proper form to fill out with instructions on how to cancel the policy.  On March 20th I received and email a portion of it was:


“This is what needs to be corrected by your team:
  1. Successfully cancel the life insurance policy that was confirmed, again by your team, to have been canceled on 1/11.
  2. Refund insurance policy bills for both February (billed 2/14) and March (billed 3/20) of $26.93 each.
  3. Resolve and reimburse insufficient funds and overdraft fees with Zions Bank of $36 (charged 3/15) and $36 (charged 3/21).  
  4. If you need additional information regarding my former banking information you may inquire by replying to this email. I would like all communication regarding this matter to be through email. 
  5. I do not have the time nor the patience to resolve this issue myself by calling Farmers help line.  Please, complete it on my behalf as my agent. 
Please update me on the progress of this request.”
 This sort of tone will get you nowhere.  Don’t ask for help by writing something that looks like a ransom note.  Again, he never got the paperwork to me to cancel his active policy, so his account, set up on auto pay, was drafted, again, causing overdraft fees.  I did only give him 14 days to return the form to me so maybe that’s on me.   Although I am sure it took him 14 minutes to write this email.
 Now. As the owner of my business, I understand that mistakes can be made and it seems as if one of my new employees told him that both policies were cancelled as of February.  I told him what I would do for him, which is refund the February premium amount since there was some confusion there but would not be reimbursing his March premium or overdraft fees because he was given ample time to get those cancelled.
 This wasn’t good enough for him.  “I need you to forward me to your supervisor!”  I told him that I am my supervisor, but he is welcome to talk to my District Manager and passed him off.  My District Manager had my back 100% and the ex client came back and said the February refund would be fine and that was that.
 I had another incident the same week.   I had a client who was trying to cancel a policy (see a theme here?  Just don’t cancel your policies and everything will be fine), and she filled out the paperwork wrong.  As it is going through the process of not cancelling, her bank account gets hit.
 Her mistake was honest and very slight, and instead of the department reaching out to me and clarifying, they just processed a letter that got sent to the insured telling her it wasn’t cancelled. While the letter is in the mail, we draft her account.
 While my company did what they did by the book and had a right to do it, it’s not indicative of the service I want my agency to provide.  I reached out to the client, made sure the paperwork was filed properly so the policy was cancelled and sent her the small refund for the premium that was paid.  Here is a portion of the email I got from her:

“Hi Matt,

I just wanted to say that I received the check for the partial refund on my life insurance premium.  I wanted to thank you for your quick resolution to this issue.  I am very pleased with the way you have dealt with the issue, even though it was not in your best financial interest.
While I understand some would consider $30 a paltry amount, it wasn’t really about the money per se, but I felt as if your carrier was “trying to pull a fast one” on me, and I didn’t really appreciate that.  I definitely appreciate what you and your team have done to rectify the situation.”
This letter made my entire day.  Maybe even my week.  Business owners rarely get feedback like this.  For some reason, we are 10x more likely to receive the email behind door number 1, than the one behind door number 2.  Why do you think that is?
 I am hypersensitive to good service when I out in the community because I am so immersed in it in my day to day life.  It is the lifeblood of my business.  It doesn’t have to be in the form a letter to the owner.  Something that has just as much power is a review on Google, or Yelp of Facebook.  An unsolicited positive review, or email is one of the highest compliments a small business owner can receive.  Yet they are so rarely done without asking.
 The next time you get some service that makes you take notice and feel like you were taken care of, whip out your phone, spend 3 minutes of your day, and thank them in by sharing your experience with others.  It will be a tiny bit of validation that the hard working business owner is doing something right and make their day.

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