Direct Line was just too direct

A recent experience with Direct Line insurance illustrates a salutory tale for any business – there’s little point spending a fortune getting new business leads, if you don’t handle them appropriately.

I called up for a car insurance quotation. I was put through to a lady in India – no problem with that, happy to speak with a customer service representative anywhere in the world, so long as I can understand them, and they take note of what I say. I asked for a quote, went through personal details, vehicle details and answered some other questions. She provided me with a quotation, rattling through the terms and conditions, which included a large variety of differing “excess” amounts for different types of claims: from memory, they were between £100 and £400, depending on whether it was a claim for theft, non-fault damage, malicious damage etc.

I asked her if she could send me the details, maybe by email, so I could review them. “No, we don’t do that, we are a strictly over the telephone operation,” she said. I hardly felt in the mood to ask her to repeat them, so that I could write all the details down, as she then immediately proceeded to a hard sell, telling me that their price would be better because they didn’t pay brokers, pushing me to close the sale there and then. Feeling uncomfortable, I refused – so she then proceeded to book a time later that afternoon for her to call back.

Getting off the phone, and somewhat flustered, I found the number for the helpful brokers I used for my home insurance. The guy on the end of the phone was friendly, helpful and not at all pushy. So when I’d reviewed his quote at leisure – which included a simple £100 excess on everything, for a premium that was within £5 of the Direct Line quote, I called back and arranged the insurance with him.

Direct Line did call back later – but I hadn’t changed my mind.

Simple lesson – listen to your prospect, and if you can, provide them with what they ask. If you develop an inflexible sales method, you will be guaranteed to lose some potentially valuable prospects.

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