Progressive’s Wrong Turn

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Carlisleinsurance on Flickr

Progressive’s idea of damage control for its questionable decision in regard to the Katie Fisher case was releasing a statement on its website (after the trial was complete, nonetheless) tacking the blame on law in Maryland. The public comment states that when there is not sufficient evidence declaring who was at fault in an accident where one party has Underinsured Motorist coverage, it must be brought in front of a jury in court with the provider of said coverage (Progressive) as the defendant.

The trial would have never been necessary if Progressive paid the Fishers the full claim of $75,000 from the Underinsured Motorist coverage.

Rather than attempting to justify its actions with a single statement full of double speak, Progressive should have recognized its obvious mistake of siding with the defendant with a more hands on approach. It’s clear to everyone that Progressive is in the wrong so apologizing will show that the organization is admitting fault in the situation.

The two main publics are current and prospective customers.

To deter current customers from withdrawing their business, Progressive should send statements through mail/email to all current policy holders. The statements should read something along the lines of “the situation was the decision of a few and it is being dealt with internally, but does not represent the organizations ethics as a whole.”

On the other hand, prospective customers are seeing all the backlash from many sources, including various social media outlets. Progressive should intimately acknowledge the situation on all active platforms. Social media gives Progressive the chance to keep the public updated on the situation on a more personal level and allows the organization to voice its own opinion. The letter that was sent to current customers should be posted to the organizations website as well.

Prospective and current customers will obviously receive different treatment. Current customers have already invested time and money into the organization therefore they will receive a more personal and immediate response (ie. the letters).

Public relations is more appropriate in this situation than advertising or marketing. PR can give a more proactive solution. For example, other than apologizing and clearing their name through statements and social media, they can partake in philanthropic efforts. Donating time and money to causes such as RoadPeace will give a personal appeal to Progressive.

Progressive’s “resolution” gave the organization a very stubborn face and did not help with reputation management at all. Despite everything, the loss of a life (life of a paying customer to be exact) should have been enough for Progressive to do the right thing in the first place.

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