Having changed the Insurer on my daughter’s car this week, the epiphany struck me yet again: The ease and convenience of dealing with Private Sector companies versus having to deal with the Civil Service. Part but not all of the ease of use relates the fact of how technology is used. The rest is attitude.
Main picture: Wildlife photographer Hannes Lochner spent 750 days in the harsh surroundings of the Kalahari Desert to chronicle the life of a female leopard and in doing so delved into a dark and fascinating nocturnal world of big cats and other predators. Filming Luna with her cubs was the highlight of Mr Lochner’s two-year project immersed in the Kalahari Desert
Firstly let me compare the time taken to speak to a Consultant. In the case of the Insurance Companies, it never took me longer than a minute to speak to a Consultant apart from one. Naturally they did not get my business. In the case of the UIF, I first had to wait for 10 minutes whilst continually being told that they are experiencing high call volumes. I gave up.
I started phoning the next morning at 7:30 only to be told that they were experiencing high call volumes. Instead of either informing the Customer their position in the queue or the length of time until the call is estimated to be answered, all that one is informed is that they are experiencing high call volumes. Finally after holding on for ten minutes, I was informed that they were offline.
Why was I greeted with the same refrain “high call volumes” twenty hours a day? Lastly when the UIF never answered, I had no alternative UIF insurer or broker to use.
So why would they care about poor customer service? We are locked in.
Apart from the difference in attitude, the major differentiator was their use of IT technology. In the case of the UIF, I had to terminate a Maid. As I attempted to do so too late in the month, I had to email them so that they could correct the master data. The problem is that it took them over a month to do so. As a consequence the following month’s UIF amount due had already been generated. Naturally I refuse to pay. As a consequence, due to the manual nature of this process, the amount of admin work by the Commissioner to recover a piddling amount is out of proportion to what it is worth.
Let us now take the example of Outsurance. After accepting the quote, I was instructed to take the Ford Figo to any of my local Glasfit Centres. In 5 minutes, they had inspected the vehicle, recorded the VIN and chassis number onto a tablet, photographed the number plates and submitted it to Outsurance. Within 5 minutes I received an sms confirming that the policy was valid and in operation. Apparently in the case of Auto & General, they have to take 5 or 6 photos instead of one.
In speaking to the assistant at Glasfit, he claimed that in the old days when there was a manual submission basis, there were continual queries due to lost and mislaid Inspection Reports. For them, the new tablet bases approach removes all of the admin nightmares.
Compare that with the process of renewing one’s Driver’s Licence. Fortunately one only has to have it renewed every 5 years.
Let us apply the same logic to traffic fines. A few months ago I was caught close to home using a cellphone whilst driving. The officer manually recorded all my details on a preprinted fine pad and then submitted the used sheets to the admin department. Imagine what happened now. Each fine would have to be manually entered into the system and a fine generated. By the time that I received the fine, it was more than a month later.
This whole process is fraught with corruption, inefficiency and cost to the taxpayer.
Why not issue a Tablet to the Traffic Officers much like the British Traffic Authorities do. If one has ever watched the BBC program called The Interceptors, the Officer has already retrieved the vehicles details off the system before confronting the suspect.
Given the level of corruption in South Africa, not only should the details of the offender be recorded but photos should also be taken of the Licence plate, the licence disk, the driver’s licence and the driver. Finally the most important last step. The Driver must have been smsed with the Fine BEFORE they drive off. In other words all administration glitches are avoided. Instead of taking more than a month to issue a fine together with admin & postage costs, by capturing directly into the system, the whole process would be completed in slightly longer than it takes the Officer to issue the Ticket under the current system.
Of course these improvements would not make the payment of traffic fines any more palatable. But like Insurance they are all grudge purchases or actions. At least then they will be tolerable, wasting the least amount of one’s time and ultimately taxpayers’ money.
In the case of government departments, there is never any incentive to improve. Unlike that insurance company which lost my business due to not providing me with service, the government department will continue to provide unacceptable service without any consequences for managers or employees.
Source of these stunning photos: