Create an App, go Digital. Simples. Everybody is doing it. A recent experience of dealing with my medical insurance here in Switzerland proves just the opposite.

I hope readers will share their examples of “digital gone wrong”.

Swiss practice is that you do your own insurance; there is no such thing as company medical. Since I moved to Switzerland 28 years ago, we have been loyal customers of Sanitas, which is one of the major carriers.

In line with fashion, the good folks at Sanitas have an app. Reasonably good, though every use is annoying; instead of using my fingerprint on the iPhone, every single time I use the App I am sent a text with a code, which I have to re-type into the App. Yuk.

Sanitas provides cover for the family, which includes a life insurance policy for me. A few months back, we decided to cancel this. I am pretty sure that I called and cancelled. A couple of weeks back, I realised this had not been changed. So, I decided to use the App to send a message to cancel this; the secure App that the insurer forces me to add that extra code to use.

Maybe two days later, I remember seeing a notification on my iPhone saying that the contract had been changed. Easy enough. Job done as far as I was concerned. A couple of days ago, my wife was checking our bank statement and said she thought that the direct debit had not changed and we were still being charged.

Perplexed, I resorted to using the phone. That was when things got interesting. I was told that an email communication on the Sanitas secure App was not enough; their process required me to send a written letter cancelling the insurance. We sent you an email they said. Except this mail was inside the App. I am never going to go and look for that; I might just click on a link sent to me regular email.

I was then lectured by the call centre operator about their general terms & conditions and how I had agreed to all of them when I signed up for the policy. The full we are right, you are wrong routine. No notion of the fact that the policy pre-dated their App. As far as they were concerned, their job was done as soon as they sent the email saying “send us an official letter”.

In the end, after some escalation, I was able to sort the matter out and stop the charges.

Lessons to be Learned: 

The first is a mea culpa. Failure on my part to take the right notes of who I talked to originally and when. Always take minutes. Personal stuff is no different from work stuff.

The other lessons are for anybody using a Digital approach.

Security: yes, it is important, but then do not make me re-type both my password and the extra key you send me. Kudos to UBS in this regard; their banking app makes me can a QR code and then enter a password. Much better.

Self-service: ideally, the whole thing should be self-service. If I want to cancel or change something, then let me do it on-line so there is no need for any other form of communication.

Process: if you are going to allow me to communicate with you on a secure App and I send you a clear instruction, then ensure that your policies & procedures allow that to be a valid form of communication. While I do understand that nobody wants any doubt over whether a life insurance policy is cancelled or not, if your app lets me communicate with you, then an instruction has to be considered valid.

Email in your App vs. my general E-mail: this is the old 27 icons on the desktop problem. if everybody who has an App wants me to read ail inside their app, I am going to miss stuff. I can just about understand a bank not wanting to email my statement as an attachment, but then send me a regular email to tell me my statement is ready to view, with a nice link.

About the Author: I help banks master their post trade processing; optimising, re-engineering, building.

I understand the front-to-back and end-to-end impact of what banks do. That allows me to build the best processes for my clients; ones that deliver on the three key dimensions of Operations: control, capacity and cost.

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