I’ve just written a post over on my Playpen blog about insurance and lying. The two seem to me to be tightly linked together. Many people have, at some point, either outright lied about or at least embellished an insurance claim. But I argue that insurance companies are just as bad the other way around, hiding behind complex calculations that they take no care to explain and, of course, the dreaded small print.
Why does this matter to service design? It matters because it’s about trust. When you’re not buying a product that you can hold in your hand, can’t point to the broken parts. It’s the classic pig in a poke problem. What’s worse, it’s not just that the thing in the sack you are buying might not be a pig but a puppy, but the contents of the bag can magically change without you knowing about it. From artificially low lending interest rates that suddenly balloon (and we know where that got the finance sector) to insurance premiums that jump up year by year without explanation of why or informing customers that there are new tariffs available, practices that erode trust are an enormous problem for all industries.
We are sold cheese that isn’t cheese, sold horrifically tortured animal products as if they were healthy and responsible, and ripped off all the time by insurance companies, telcos and banks. The problem with those latter service industries is that they’re like the factory slaughterhouses of the former – there’s no way to see the workings inside the box.
But transparency has long-term value. When I caught my insurance company trying to get away with charging me too much they offered the cheaper, new tariff. They did the right thing, but now I despise them. In the end, like factory farming, its and unsustainable way to run a business.
I’d be happy to hear of more examples of this in the service sector – most people have had some kind of similar experience. Please get in touch if you do or comment below.
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