Avoiding Airline Check In Queues and Speeding Up Protection

Why does everything seem so complicated these days?

Especially with so much online technology which should speed up processes and make customer experiences better.

I asked this question in my latest Blog for Financial Reporter with specific reference to the time it can take to process a piece of protection business. In the article I draw a tangent to my trick for avoiding airline check in queues. Check it out. It’s guaranteed to mean you’ll never have to queue at check in again.

Click on the photo below to link to the article.

Speeding Up Protection

Now it’s your turn: What cheeses you off about complex modern processes? What would you like to see technology change? What can we do to go about speeding up protection? Do you think protection sales would benefit from a much quicker application process? And what “premium” could we charge for that?

Are Scary Headlines really needed to guarantee more Eyeballs on Screens?

Do you want someone to read your email, blog, article, or newsletter?

Of course. We all do.

Marketers like me will tell you the key to success is to craft a irresistible headline. Pick up any newspaper or magazine from a newsagent’s shelf and scan the headlines and you’ll see that the media have this down to a fine art.

Scary Headlines

(Click on the picture if you want to Tweet this article)

The glossies are the masters of this science. In fact writing tutors encourage students to study titles like Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health to learn how to do it.

Here’s a Cosmopolitan article title:

20 Ways to Make Him Scream. In a good way

Here’s one from Men’s Health:

15 Powerfoods that Fight Fat

Headlines with statistics seem more effective. And if the statistics are scary – all the better.

But what about manipulating statistics to increase clicks? What about subtle interpretation of statistics to embellish a story to guarantee more eyeballs on screens? I ask this because Regulators have lambasted the Protection Industry for using scary statistics in the past. How far is it acceptable to go?

Let me give you an example.

Being partial to a nice bottle of red wine, especially if the grape is Zinfandel and it comes from California, a headline in a newspaper alarmed me recently claiming that a new study says that just one glass of red wine per day could increase your chance of getting throat cancer by 168%.


Wow that’s a huge increase isn’t it? I bet a lot of people who read that would be worried enough to read the article. I was (proving of course that the scary headline technique works).

But what is annoying, when you look into the detail of the article, is that they never tell you what the baseline is. What is the 168% increase on top of?

If the real chance of getting throat cancer is 1 in 1 million then a 168% increase on that turns a miniscule chance into a slightly more than miniscule but still miniscule chance. So it’s a non-story. Red wine drinkers however couldn’t resist clicking through and reading the copy.

And here’s an example from the Protection Industry. I recently came across an article with the following scary headline:

40 to 60 is the most dangerous time of life

They’d written the article about some figures Reinsurer RGA released stating that, “The majority of life insurance and critical illness claims are for people between the age 40 and 60.”

Whilst RGA’s claims figures are correct the headline’s interpretation of the statistics was completely wrong.

Scary Headlines

It is certainly true that age 40 to 60 is when most illnesses and deaths happen (and therefore claims) among the INSURED population. But given the average policy is taken out by someone in their 30s for about 25 years that’s absolutely expected.

If you looked at the wider population as a whole – most illnesses and deaths would not take place during that window. At a much older age in fact. The headline is more of a “interpretation of the stats” and not reality.

Does it matter if a headline is technically wrong as long as it compels someone to read it? In this example the more people reading might prompt more of them to go and seek advice about protecting their finances. That’s not a bad outcome is it?

If a life insurance company used that headline in a brochure there’s no way it would be compliant. They wouldn’t be able to use it.

But the media are not subject to those same compliance concerns. So are scary headlines, even wrong scary headlines, justifiable as long as they guarantee more click-throughs?

Now it’s your turn: What do you think about scary headlines and the interpretation of statistics? If it makes more people read articles that might ultimately benefit them is it acceptable? Please leave a comment below and let me know your views.

What a Caffe Nero Grande Americano says about Empowered Staff and Happy Customers

Is coffee an important part of your business day?

Last week I took an early train down south from Edinburgh. In my pocket was a complete, stamped Caffé Nero loyalty card.

I decided to buy a huge coffee to make my early start more bearable. As I stood at the Caffé Nero Express kiosk at Waverley station I  asked for a Caffe Nero Grande Americano black coffee.

The lady checked again whether I wanted milk. I replied, “No, just black.”

caffe nero grande americano

She accepted my stamped loyalty card and I took my free coffee with me on the train. I settled into my seat as the East Coast train lumbered out of Waverley station and into Calton Tunnel.

I peeled the top off my coffee cup.

And my heart sank.

Staring back up at me was white coffee. I am lactose intolerant and so I couldn’t drink the coffee I was so looking forward to savouring. I asked my immediate neighbours in the carriage if they’d like a white Coffee. One lucky gentleman accepted my cup with a smile.

But I felt annoyed. How much clearer could I have been? East Coast trains Coffee is not as tasty as Caffe Nero coffee.

I tweeted Caffe Nero but of course received no reply. I imagine they must receive thousands of tweets per day.

Over 12 hours later I arrived back at Edinburgh Waverley station. I went along to the Caffe Nero Express kiosk and explained what had happened during my early morning visit. The gentleman in the kiosk immediately apologised and furnished me with two completed loyalty cards. He did this without questioning my story. Nor did he have to refer to a supervisor or a colleague to make me happy.

I immediately felt better and Caffe Nero will stay on my Christmas card list.

So many times these days staff are not allowed to make such gestures without referring up the line. Empowerment in these circumstances is important to keep customer loyalty.

I remember visiting the Ritz-Carlton chain of hotels in the USA a few years ago and going behind the scenes to get some business ideas. They allow every one of their employees to spend up to $100 to look after a guest. They do not have to refer to a supervisor or manager. They use their discretion. This means that the service they deliver is exceptional.

Would you allow your staff to make such a decision without referral?

Now it’s your turn: I love stories about great customer experiences. If you’ve been wowed by a response similar to mine please share your story. Leave a comment or post a link to your own website or blog.