Monday, October 30, 2017

You gotta love “productivity” but are we missing something?

To those thinking the robots are coming, let's review this letter. It is a "culmination" of a lot of efficiency in client-agent communication, I presume.

What is its message? What are some solutions?

Are we missing the mark somewhere? If so, where? Why? How do we fix it?

"Dear Jenny and Jane,

Some six and a half or more years ago I reached out to your company with a need for car insurance for my vehicle that I was bringing back from Europe as I got my Director position with X University. You all have helped us with insurance work since. Because I liked the responsiveness and professionalism that Jane showed the first time. And thus I kept asking for help on new circumstances with new needs.

But that professionalism and high responsiveness have changed over time. This time around, with our two houses, it's happened again. I'm at a loss of understanding.

I did what I was asked to do and we both signed two checks today and signed the two pages out of forms that we got in the mail and returned them to Jenny..

I say that so you see that I'm following your advise. But I also need to friendly point out that I didn't like the story as it happened. I feel my questions are always ignored. My preferences are ignored. We get some solution but it's not really the solution we were seeking. It's odd and complicated and terribly confusing for someone like me who doesn't understand these things well enough. I never get my questions answered and I have no idea what is going on. I paid for some three years our home insurance to a company in Y State [way over there away from where we are] (Company A) who didn't care for anything about us. I always paid them online 2-300$ ahead without even getting an invoice or payment plan from them—in this electronic era—and then all they did was send me a note saying I owed them $7 or so. A phone call? An email? An invoice in advance? Nothing! Really? The Company B insurance on our cars was completely useless when it came to the hail damage. It took over a month for someone to come and when they did they handed me a check made to Toyota and I which needed clearing by mail. We paid the windshields from our pockets a price higher than what the Company B lady [coming from way out there in New York City] estimated, as the insurance lady had no viable solution to actually have the car fixed and I was getting tired of driving without seeing in the back and risking that water would get to my $3,000 hybrid battery through the missing broken glass. We upped money for fixing the insured vehicle, money we didn't ever recover in full. That's called "Extra Care" treatment I suppose:(

When I asked Jenny this time again about bundling two cars and two homes in one policy, possibly with some discount, and naturally with a company that is courteous and effective if the need ever arises I didn't really get an answer to the question I had, as asked. Why? Yes, we got quotes, but not really any professional advise and understanding of options etc. Convenience and courtesy and effectiveness are important to us. We can pay a premium for those if we understand why and how and if we like the treatment. I could of course shop for insurance by myself. But I don't. I think agents are professionals and they have a serious role, i.e. to help clients decide best and to make things nice and easy and friendly. I dislike that many industries including the insurance one squeezes agents out and am thus fighting against that by buying local in this field as in any other field where I can. But sometimes it gets hard and I don't get much help on what I try to do how I try to do it.

This time I went ahead and wrote checks and signed papers I didn't really understand for policies I am not quite convinced about with a company that again I know little about and which may or may not be there for us if God forbid we may need it. But I'm not certain why I keep doing it if I'm not entirely happy with the outcome of the simple process of asking a few questions I find important and never getting an answer to them in full.

I know this is a lot and much of it is way out of your control. Thank you for your work for us but please be more forthcoming with understanding what we need and explaining back things to us, in simple ways so we can get it. While email and mail are OK, live interactions also help, as they build and maintain trust.

All the best,
Jack and Jill,
Customers in TwentyFirst Century world

(Jenny and Jane are both agents in a small family owned local insurance company in the Midwest)

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Make your mark!

A few years ago a happy accident helped me to start seeing things in a better perspective. 

It was a standard form doctorate recommendation letter, one that a graduate student asked me to fill in and write in for him. The form asked "what is the comparison sample you are basing this recommendation on?" so I had to sit down and estimate how many students I ever helped find their own path to achieving their fullest potential. Back then the calculation was at about 3500 students. I wrote the letter and sent it in. The student got the thing he needed the letter for. As it usually happens. It turns out that rarely did a non-deserving student ever asked me for a recommendation. It seems thus that all of my recommendation letters are very useful. Students get doctoral or masters degree acceptances, officer promotions, their dream jobs... you name it and they get it. They are deserving and I write good letters. 

But my issue started later on. It was with myself. It was with my effectiveness as a human being. I had studied for some 28 years (1984-2012) and I had worked for some 18 years (1989-1995 and 2000-2012) to be where I was and all I could account for was having helped only 3500 students find their fullest potential? 

That was OK-ish but by far it was not good enough. Something had to change. Radically. I had to do something. I didn't really know what the something was going to be. When we don't know what to do, it turns out that old dreams fill in our subconscious planning. If we just let them. So I followed a long time dream of mine from my teenage years. Yet unfulfilled. I went to law school. I finished law school. 

When in law school I learned once again that the legal clinic I worked in could not serve about 90% of the folks who were calling in and who needed our help. While I enjoy litigation and I find it very important, I want to make legal services more affordable, more comprehensive in scope and less necessary by way of parties agreeing with each other out of court more often. 

I've been teaching high school completion to adults lately. I apologize that it took me so long to recognize the issues here. Yet, all too many of us don't recognize the issues at all still. I learned that we have 60+ million people in the US who don't have a high school diploma or equivalent. Who knows how large that number is globally? That we as society, in the richest country in the world, help only less than 8% of these friends and brothers and sisters of ours (who hide in the cupboard out of sad self-shame) get closer to their fullest potential. 

How can we make our imprint larger? How can we help more people? How can we make our help count more faster?

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Saving is not allowed to be in our nature anymore. Yet, it was in our DNA

"A solution to any issue that is based on saving more, or consuming i.e. spending less, has a zero chance of being promoted proactively and adopted widely." 

Who would advertise in favor of frugality? Benjamin Franklin did it. Look what happened to him.;) Not even folks in college growing up in Philadelphia where his fame was acquired are reading his autobiography... Is it because it's free and nobody advertises it? Or is it because he is portrayed on the US currency's most sought denomination, the $💯 bill? The one least in circulation? Like the Autobiography itself...

One quite cute proponent of being frugal   is the Panda. It has to save a lot of energy. Because his favorite and only food doesn't have a high calorie intake. Will you listen to it? Because it is cute, your daughter likes it a lot, and you love your daughter?

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D..