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The Cost of Not Answering the Phone

Written by Nickel - 10 Comments

Yesterday afternoon I set aside a bit of time to arrange for a homeowner’s insurance policy on our new house, as well as to transfer our other policies from from our current insurance agent to one on the other end of our move. We’ve used State Farm Insurance for years and, given that we’re actually moving back to an area in which we used to live, I thought I’d give our old State Farm agent a call. It’s not like we had a close relationship with the guy, but we’d never had any problems. While his office is actually a bit out of the way (eight or so miles from our new house, when it seems like there’s a State Farm agent on just about every corner), I figured that we might as well give him our business…

Well, when I called his office I was greeted by a voice mail system that announced, among other things, that their office is closed for lunch. No problem, I thought, it’s not lunch time. I’ll just hit ‘zero’ and get to the receptionist. Well, much to my surprise, I was then greeted by a second round of voice mail announcing that they were out of the office all day, and would be gone the following day (today), as well. What the heck? An insurance agent that shuts down his entire office on a seemingly random Wednesday and Thursday? That’s definitely not what we’re looking for when it comes to customer service. Yes, I’m sure he probably has a good reason for being away. But that doesn’t excuse the absence of all other office staff. In short,

So what’s a guy to do? Simple. Hop on over to the State Farm web site, do a quick search, and pick one of the bajillion other agents that are out there. As it turns out, there’s one just two miles down the road from where we’ll be living. And they actually answered the phone. Their reward? A brand new homeowner’s policy, as well as the right to re-issue several other policies that need to be changed up due to the fact that we’ll be moving in from out of state.

Published on April 27th, 2006 - 10 Comments
Filed under: Insurance, Moving

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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10 Responses to “The Cost of Not Answering the Phone”

  1. 1
    FMF Says:

    Yep, customer service is vital to business success. Some people just don’t get that fact.

  2. 2
    Blaine Moore Says:

    I did not have a particularly good phone conversation experience with state farm when I bought my house, and Geico said there wasn’t a fire department within 5 miles so they wouldn’t even consider insuring me (there are two within 3 miles, but I didn’t know that yet when I called) so AllState got our business.

  3. 3
    Flexo Says:

    Customer service is key, but the bottom line is the first office wasn’t there when you needed them, and the second one was. Had you called another day, you might have found the opposite to be true and ended up with the other agent.

    Some of these agencies consist of only one agent and a receptionist, therefore they may be easily closed for a day… but they could have used an answering service instead of a confusing voicemail. I think when I last tried calling an agent who wasn’t there, the phone call was automatically routed to the regional or national office when they didn’t pick up.

  4. 4
    Dave Says:

    It really bugs me when people don’t answer the phone or have really poor customer service.

    What bugs me the most, however, is having to go through 99 different options on the keypad before actually getting through to a human, whom then tell you that you are speaking to the wrong person and put you back to option one!!!!

  5. 5
    jim Says:

    This is the classic issue of the failure of the last mile everyone talks about… they do all that marketing to get you to call, but they don’t pick up.

  6. 6
    SavingAdvice Says:

    The worst part for them is they probably don’t even realize they lost a customer.

  7. 7
    onewayORanother Says:

    i honestly would have done the same exact thing.
    i cannot stand speaking with automated people when my money is involved sometimes.

    when we lived in monterey, our insurance agent gave us his cellphone number one time and i thought that to be quite odd. he said, he’s in the middle of moving offices and want to be sure we can contact him at anytime. wow. he must have known that little secret of customer service :)

  8. 8
    SkyeBlue Says:

    I hope ANYONE who is thinking about or who is currently doing business with State Farm will remember how TERRIBLE State Farm has treated the homeowners whose homes were damaged in Katrina and how they have been trying to get out of paying on their claims.

    They could just as easily treat YOU the same way!

    Something to think about.

  9. 9
    Creditnine.com Says:

    Thats right if they dont pick up screw them… i will find someone who does.. cant stand hanging around for some company that doesnt employ more people to answer phone calls

  10. 10
    nmgal Says:

    No excuse for a business office to not answer the phone. What poor business practice! I worked for US Govt offices in the past, and their mantra was “the phone is always answered.” In an office, if there were other people, we would take turns answering each other’s phone while that person was out. And, we never left it unanswered during lunch. Either get someone else to cover, leave a meaningful message w/referral to another number, or use a svc.

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