Direct Line: a great example of customer centric thinking!

If you are living in the UK you will know that we are having one of the coldest spells of the year and the country’s transportation system has come to a stop.  In one part of the UK the temperature is as low as -21C.  That may not be that cold for my Canadian friends, it is very cold for us Brits!

Now what happens when it gets this cold?  The plumbing inside the home is put under considerable stress:  valves get stuck as they are frozen, pipes burst, water tanks cause problem etc. All of that creates problems for a home owner like me.  And it can cause considerable problems for the insurer.

If you look at the situation from the insurers perspective, this cold weather is just a disaster waiting to happen:  pipes burst, homes are damaged, the policy holders ring in their thousands, the media is on the lookout for interesting stories that fit in with the theme of incompetence and human suffering that will make good copy.  So all the ingredients are there for 1) a drain on profits to meet policy holder claims; and 2) a customer relations disaster.

Clearly the people at Direct Line (the company I have my home insurance) have done their homework.  They know how to win by contributing to their customers – people like me who know little and care little about plumbing.  Here is the email that I received from them yesterday: Direct Line Email.

By sending me this email they have done something smart.  They have rendered a service to me by providing valuable information: when I received the email I thought “I did not know that and yes that is a very useful suggestion, let’s do that right now to avoid any trouble as I do not want to take any chances in this weather!”  By providing this service they have built affinity with me: I feel gratitude towards Direct Line and pat myself on the back for having chosen such a considerate insurer.

Whilst doing that they have taken steps to reduce the amount of money they will have to pay to reimburse their customers for losses.  And simultaneously they have reduced the workload that will be placed on their call centres.  Very smart indeed: they have created a win-win.

As a customer strategist I admire Direct Line:  their actions are a great example of the best kind of customer centric thinking!

One word of advice to the wonderful people at Direct Line:  ladies and gents it would have been better (for you and your customers) if you had sent out this email two days earlier when the cold snap first hit!  And you could have repeated every day after – again as a service to those people who had forgotten to take action.  By doing that you would have been even more effective – you would have had less people ringing in to report burst pipes.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

3 thoughts on “Direct Line: a great example of customer centric thinking!”

  1. Always nice to see examples of businesses acting more human, Maz. It seems Direct Line may have also adopted a real-time marketing strategy considering they were playing off of the weather. Thanks for sharing.

    – Dave

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    1. Hello Dave, I welcome your participation. Yes, I found it positively delightful when an institution acts like a caring human being. I suspect that many of us are looking for exactly that – a human to human encounter.

      Is it real time marketing? Now we get into the question of what is marketing. In my experience marketing is a softer word for selling – getting me to part with my money. I don’t mind that when Amazon does it because they actually provide me with value. Most of the time what they recommend I am interested in. And sometimes I buy.

      Now in the case of Direct Line, the email was more of a service. They provided me information that helped me and helped them. Now I class that as great service.

      In the end it simply does not matter what we call it right? What matters is that they have made a positive contribution to my life and for that I am grateful. And in the future I tend to reciprocate by sticking with them.

      I look forward to hearing more from you.

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  2. Is this some kind of marketing ploy? I had direct line insurance last year and whilst the initial contact with direct line was admirable, the subsequent insurance premium both increased and came with stringent clauses attached to any renewal with this company. We claimed against our house insurance policy for the first time in eighteen years. The requirements imposed buy direct line were that we replaced our front door due to a theft conduct through a small rear window that met with all requirements set by direct line. The cost replacement for this door was between £1700 and £2500 which were simply unable to afford. As such we had to find a new insurer. We were left feeling like the criminal afterwards. I would never recommended this company to anybody. They are happy to take your premium year on year without question, but the first time we claimed they ran. The claim cost only amounted to £1100 after paying the estimated cost over 18 years of some £6000. It’s a travesty!!!!

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