For a bit more than 15 years I was a loyal Allstate customer. It all began when I moved to Palo Alto from out of state and needed an insurance agent. I called a smart friend of mine and he suggested that I call Harold Lorber of Allstate Insurance. If there was a Hall of Fame for great agents Harold would be an inductee on the first ballot. Every complex question I had Harold worked to answer with helpfulness and insight. And while most folks think that Venture Capitalists are always completely on top of our games, the truth is it’s a bit like driving a shopping cart through a walmart at 100 mph. You’re gonna hit something sometime. In my case, Harold’s staff would regularly call me to remind me to pay my bill. And so my loyalties were set. I loved Harold and therefore disliked Allstate the least. I think Insurance is like cell phone, cable or utility bills. At best an annoyance.
And one day I picked up and moved to Seattle. I brought with me my high level of expectations from Harold. I ended up with speaking with Kim Taylor of Allstate. And while helpful I always felt something wasn’t quite right. And yet when one day my insurance was transferred to John Davis’ Allstate Agency I stayed with him because of the loyalties from Harold. I was pleased to have another shot with a different agent. John was ok until one day Kim showed up in his office. Turns out that my policy of 17 years had lapsed because I was late in making my payment. Shame on me for that.
But Kim said ‘We’re not obligated to call you about a cancellation in your policy.’ And I thought I’m not obligated to be your customer, Kim. As someone who doesn’t like unnecessary risk I was livid that I wasn’t covered and hadn’t been in over a month. And that they couldn’t fix it for 5 days. 17 years of Allstate customer loyalty flushed down the drain because of the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced from an agent.
Since this occurred on a stopover flight to Chicago I pinged a couple friends about who they used for insurance. One suggested GEICO, but even with their cute Aussie lizard I’ve always found their claims of lower prices didn’t translate into reality. And there’s State Farm but I always wonder why they’d spend millions suggesting that their existing clients would need to call for a Discount Double check. Aren’t their agents working to find them discounts and save them money. Sounds a lot like Comcast and who likes dealing with them? Nobody.
But another friend suggested PEMCO, Washington State and Oregon firm. And so after 15 minutes with Sue Humbird I was bonded for car insurance, renters insurance (not a big fan of home ownership), and a personal liability umbrella (you should always get this.) And walked into Enterprise a couple hours later and out with my car fully insured. Thanks, Suzanne!
I called John’s office and let him know I didn’t need their services anymore.
So when you think about the customers you have, remember you’ve already paid the acquisition cost. I stayed for 17 years. So when there’s a problem. Fix it because those customers are golden.