Customer service

Corporate Insensitivity Adds to Customer Grief

This is a plea for companies to be more sensitive to their customers’ situations. It’s about a frustrating and emotionally-laden personal experience resulting from a lack of corporate sensitivity that may not be deliberate, but nonetheless, there’s no excuse for it.

My beloved mother passed away a few months ago, and I’ve been handling her mail and bills until her estate is settled. What’s unbelievable is the direct mail I continue to get in my mother’s name from companies who have been contacted about the situation. Here’s what happened recently (within the span of one week) that sent me over the edge:

  • Even though we closed out my mother’s checking and savings accounts after her funeral (just over four months ago) to transfer the funds to an estate account, she continues to receive promotional offers from her credit union.
  • My family recently received an insurance check after submitting lengthy documentation about my mother’s illness and death. Get this: a few days later, we also got a notice from the same insurance company stating that her annual policy renewal would be cancelled for lack of payment.
  • Then there was the personal invitation to my mother to attend a financial education seminar from the financial services firm where we opened her estate account!

I thought ‘Relationship’ was CRM’s middle name

I just don’t understand – companies have customer data bases that they presumably update with new and closed account information. How long does it take to remove a customer name from the marketing list?

Companies have invested millions of dollars in CRM (customer relationship management) technology, so what’s the problem? Is it a bureaucratic issue based on organizations that are so complex and silo’d that the left hand doesn’t talk to the right hand or even know what it’s doing?

Regardless, the result is inefficient and wasteful. Sadly, it’s also perceived as a lack of sensitivity to consumers who are emotionally fragile.

I was so upset about this that I vented to my new blogging buddy, Becky Carroll, of CustomersRock! fame. Here’s her response:

It is more than unfortunate that the thoughtlessness of these businesses has thrown salt into the wound. Obviously, no one would do this intentionally.  However, in delicate situations, it is critical that a business flag the situation and make it work out with as little stress on the customer as possible.

I think these things happen due to silo thinking, and it happens too often!


(Thanks for listening, Becky).

Is it realistic for companies to know what their customers’ families are going through? Of course not. But in these situations – when company policy requires a death certificate to change a customer account – someone should have a clue!

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