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May 4, 2013

Prudential is a PruDON’t

by vv3a

Prudential is a PruDON’t

As we’ve discussed in class, it is really important that companies create synergetic incentive systems in order to drive greater affectivity and efficiency.  For example, in order to make sure that Apple customers are provided the best customer service experience possible, Apple hires workers for their personable skill sets (instead of technology knowledge) and does not pay its sales associates based on commission.  This strategy relieves pressure off of sales associates, maximizing their ability to help customers in friendly and genuine matter.

This is a lesson that Prudential should learn from Apple.  A large part of Prudential’s business is to provide and sell life insurance, a service, or lack there of in Prudential’s case.  As the world becomes more automated and technologically advanced, customer service can sometimes suffer as a result, especially for industries such as life insurance, accounting, or law where the its consumers may not be to familiar with all the detailed nuisances.  Thus, in these industries, customer service should be especially important.

However, my recent experience has left me feeling cheated.  In search of a more personalized experience in addressing my personal life insurance information, I took time to visit a local Prudential office to upgrade my life insurance policy.  After spending an afternoon with the agent filling out forms and making calls to “corporate” I was relieved to finally be done with the task and confident in my decision to not do this online and risk not having it done correctly.  Yet, I was so very wrong.  6 months later I was billed for something that should have been automatically taken care of.  But after spending time at McIntire and learning about customer perceptions, I decided to be more forgiving and called the 1-800 number to resolve my issue.  After going through the convoluted automated calling system, I was finally directed to a real representative who kindly told me that the papers I had signed 6 months ago had, in fact, not been filed and that my agent no longer worked for the company.  Thus, my policy had not changed.  The representative did, however, provide me with a solution and I was willing to give Prudential another shot.  She advised me to fax in my re-signed form and gave me a confirmation number for our call and discussion.

This is where, however, the Prudential’s customer value system fails.  No confirmation number or call was ever provided to me.  Even when I took the initiative to call in the next day to confirm the reception and process of my policy change request, the representative told me that I needed to call back a couple days later and could provide me no further information on the reception of my request or its status.  When I called back a week later my status was not still updated and I had to, again re-send in my request.  As discussed in class, the first mistake can often be forgiven.  However, the second and third, not so much, as I will never recommend the company to others in the future; the hassle is just not worth it for something as important and complex as life insurance.

Prudential really needs to evaluate its current customer value system as employees really aren’t taking responsibility for the services they’re providing to customers and there are no repercussions to this.  This leads to a lack of incentives for employees to operate to the best of their abilities and can lead to greater customer un-satisfaction when problems arise.  Although the company may not feel the negative effects in the short run, the long term effect is loss of current customers, as well as lost opportunities of potential future customers who have been scared off by scorned customers such as myself, using the internet to warn others and instigate justice.

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