I’ll tell you a secret: I can be a control freak sometimes. At least when I’m spending money. Recently I bought car insurance online. My research was thorough, comparing prices and the inconveniences or terrible misfortunes that would be covered.

After this fairly mundane task I was surprised to receive a phone call telling me I needed a “health check” on my insurance. I assured the hapless customer service representative that I’d only purchased the insurance a few days prior and had no need to change it yet.

They insisted that they needed to provide me detailed information on the insurance I’d just purchased. My question was “why wasn’t this included on the website or literature that was sent to me?” They repeated that the information was very important and explained the fine print of the product they had sold me.

Then they asked me to verify my personal identification details. “Hang on, you called me! So why do I need to prove who I am?” Besides, how could this be sensitive information they were about to give out?

So after the phone call and my refusal to verify my details (however I had expressed my curiosity about the fine print that couldn’t be put in writing) I gave my feedback in the survey that followed. It wasn’t wholly positive.

Now I am receiving more phone calls and voice mails to follow up my answers to the phone survey about the customer service I received that I didn’t want.

This isn’t how I wanted a small task to be completed. I just wanted to buy insurance online. I wanted the fine print in writing as it’s how I receive information best and I would be able to refer back to it when it was needed as opposed to memorising the conditions in preparation for something that could happen anytime during an entire year. Also I didn’t want a hard sell, or even people questioning my decision to not get roadside assistance.

Can’t businesses respect how customers want to be contacted? If a customer asks a question on a business’s social media page can’t it be answered there instead of being told to email their tech department? Or if a business is called by a customer the response “have a look on our website” could be off-putting to the less tech savvy. Must customers who don’t want to be on social media sign up to Facebook etc. in order to access up to date information on a business? Why can’t the business’s website be kept up to date?

Recently I saw a contact page on a website which offered the business address, opening hours, phone number, a built in contact form, an email address, the business’s Facebook and twitter accounts and the business owner’s LinkedIn. It was refreshing. The conventional wisdom is that this approach will confuse customers and offer too many options so they’ll head over to a competitor who offers merely a phone number. But maybe, just maybe, you have a strange and antisocial customer who’d like to send you a private message on your LinkedIn late at night 🙂