What Business Hours?

I tried to pay my health insurance premium on Saturday. Even though I have a 31 day grace period, I’m always prompt about sending it in on the due date since I don’t want a sniffle to turn into pneumonia which rapidly becomes bankruptcy.

I’ve been paying the bill online for a year. It’s a pretty easy system. Input the account number, input the invoice number, tell them if you want the money taken from a bank or a credit card and you’re good to go. This time, not so much. With the invoice in my hand I was told the system could not find my information. Oh sure – they knew the group number existed, but not the invoice. Hmm. Maybe using the telephone payment system?

Same result. The automated system couldn’t find my invoice either. No problem. Heck, it’s late morning on a Saturday – let’s call customer service and speak with a human. Um – no. Not until 8am Monday. I guess it hasn’t dawned on this company that people who are at work during the week might like to have an opportunity to speak to customer service when they have an hour to wait on hold and do their business.

So promptly at 8 Monday morning I called. I got right through to an agent who found my invoice without an issue and took my payment. As it turned out their system had a database issue over the weekend which is why it couldn’t process any payments.  Which prompted a couple of thoughts.

If you have critical systems you need to have monitors in place which alert you to failure.  Any web-based client who owns servers has some sort of alert in place to tell them if something is down.  Even more have alerts in place to tell them if something is running slowly, if a DDoS attack is happening, or if any number of other events occur that affects site performance and, therefore, their business.  In this case, the company could not take in revenue.  That’s pretty important.

Doing business when YOU want and not when your customer is ready is so last century.  I realize that implementing automated systems to facilitate that during non-business hours is what the company was doing but failing to monitor and maintain those systems is the same as not having them.  Actually, it may be even worse since it frustrates your customers.

The concept of “business hours” is dead.  Your business is open 24/7.  Maybe it’s just your mind that’s closed?

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