Caring for the Customer - NOT!I tend to be a loyal customer – I’ve had the same personal insurance companies for nearly four decades, I frequent the same big box home improvement store over multiple locations for nearly 30 years, my cell phone company is the same I’ve started with – I value the continuity of service and the growing relationship – I know them, and they know me.

But this past week has seriously ruptured my desire for established relationships.

Zuckerburg’s testimony before Congress reminded me again that those that use Facebook, which I do, are not the customers.  No, just like the reader of the magazine you buy at the checkout counter, you are the PRODUCT being sold.  I even had one publisher tell me that the she was happy if the reader just covered the cost of printing, she expected to get her profit from the advertisers.  Such is the case with Facebook – to the tune of $40 billion this last year.  And you can bet that Zuckerburg is going to do everything he can to protect the profitability of his product.

So, don’t expect Facebook to protect your privacy because that doesn’t make Facebook any money.  If you don’t want Facebook to know about you, then it’s your responsibility to not tell them.

The second incident regarded State Farm and reminded me that my local agent didn’t give a damn about my business.

We obtained liability insurance when we opened our office.  We filled out the forms, answered questions and paid the amount requested.  We would get a notice every year for renewal which we would promptly pay.  With no claims we were a decidedly low-maintenance client.  We were happy with the status.

The trouble began two years ago.  We received the renewal notice which we promptly paid by sending a check to the processing center as directed.  We did exactly as directed.

A couple of months later, I get a phone call saying we hadn’t pay our bill and our insurance would be cancelled!  To be sure the policy wasn’t canceled, I drove over to their office – a hour round trip – and gave them a check and we canceled the previous check.

Problem solved.

Last year, we received the renewal notice and promptly paid the bill.  Again, a few months later we received a phone call saying we hadn’t paid our bill.  My partner called the processing center, explained we had sent in a check and was told they would look into it and get back to us if the check wasn’t found.

Last week, I received a phone call from our agent’s assistant telling me that the insurance was canceled, and we had a penalty charge due.  Then, the next day, I received a notice in the mail that canceled our insurance plus the penalty fee due by March 29th – the notice was dated April 3rd.

State Farm has lost a client who was willing – even inclined – to be loyal.

I expected our agent to have my interests at heart – to safeguard my business – that’s why I got insurance in the first place.

She could have won my loyalty so easily.  A phone call saying, “Sorry, your payment hasn’t been received.  What can be done to resolve this situation?”  I would have driven over to give them a check – I did it before and we could strategize how to avoid this problem a third time.

But, no, it was easier to let the computers handle everything.  After all, their attitude is that it was my fault they weren’t paid, and they are perfectly within their rights.

When I examine what happened, I naturally asked what did we do wrong – and the answer was nothing.  We sent the check using their system – bill, envelope and check with postage.  There was a failure somewhere – but it was outside our control.

Well, it’s perfectly within my rights to give someone else my business – and to tell everyone else that State Farm doesn’t care about your business.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.