Doug Therrell of Charlotte, North Carolina provided me and my large company with an outstanding and superb customer service experience. His prompt and impressive response resulted in retention of our account for many years and numerous successful referrals from our company to his.
Here's my story:
I was in my office in Dallas Texas when my new CFO approached me with what I perceived as very disturbing news about the structure and handling of our massive corporate insurance program. We had numerous apartment complexes and office building holdings in more than 40 states. I was disturbed and angry after hearing the information from our new executive. I immediately had my secretary get Doug Therrell in Charlotte on the phone. When he answered I proceeded in bitter and accusatory language to convey all of my newly acquired knowledge on the subject. I loudly went through point after point enumerating and elaborating on various issues. After about a half hour of nonstop accusations and threats, I summarized by saying that my findings were obviously extremely upsetting, surprising and grounds for terminating our business relationship at the earliest feasible opportunity.
Doug Therrell heard me out without interruption. At the conclusion of my comments he responded with a brief summary of his perception of my feelings and the content of the message I had just delivered. He then asked if there were any other additional issues. I responded irately that I thought that I had stated more than enough. I then asked what he had to say for himself. Doug then stated that he would be happy to get on a plane that day and fly to Texas to meet with me. However, in view of the breath and severity of my complaints that he thought we would be better served if we delayed the meeting a couple of days and he would have his staff prepare a comprehensive, detailed, and user-friendly summary of the entire program as it existed currently and historically. He indicated that it would be prepared chronologically and categorically and properly tabbed and indexed for easy viewing. We agreed on the time and day for the meeting.
On the appointed day and 45 minutes early Doug Therrell appeared in my office in Dallas Texas with an assistant, the huge loose-leaf volume referenced in the phone call together with numerous file boxes. Doug handed me the binder volume and took a seat while holding his copy of the binder. He began going through the information in the binder. After numerous pages I started flipping faster. He asked if I would like him to keep up with me. Then as if he had read my mind, or as he later said referring to his motto he guessed what I was looking for by imagining he was seeing the world from my side of the desk. He looked up and said I believe the page you’re looking for is tab number….. He was right and I quickly flipped to that tab. For the first time in our meeting I looked up. Then I exclaimed is that right? He pointed to his assistant and all of the file boxes and said yes it is and here is the entire backup to prove it. As a test I ask about several specifics. Doug nodded to his assistant and the proper files were presented and opened to the specific pages which documented all of the summaries, charts and graphs in that section of the volume.
Included in the presentation was a historical chart which showed all of the deficiencies, line item by property name and location, from the time just before Doug had been awarded our business. The same summary was maintained for every property and had been updated semiannually the entire time Doug and his firm had represented our interest. I then smiled for the first time that day and said congratulations you have done a heck of a job and then I apologized for the phone call and dragging him to Dallas. I assured him that if he was going to continue that type of customer service that he would not be challenged again. Barring some catastrophic issue, I offered that an annual review with one of my senior executives would be sufficient for the future. Of course in saying this I knew that there would be regular communication between his staff and mine.
Next, I buzzed the new CFO and inquired if she had a friend that was in the commercial casualty property insurance business. Thinking I might be preparing to move the business, she emphatically replied yes and elaborated briefly. I then said well tell them that they will never be getting our business. I called in my secretary while Doug was still sitting there and dictated a letter of reprimand and probation to my CFO. Next I called in my executive vice president and informed him that he would be the designated executive for our insurance account and the person with whom Doug would communicate on insurance matters in the future.
I then invited Doug to come with me to lunch and assigned his assistant to go with my executive vice president. After a quick lunch, I surprised him by dropping in at the Ferrari dealer. They had just finished the tuneup on my newest red Ferrari and away we drove down Love Boulevard. Although he was a good sport, I noticed that he was holding to the bottom of the seat for some extra stability.
I was now convinced that Doug Therrell and his Charlotte insurance company had given us and was continuing to give us outstanding customer service in every respect. He was looking out for our interests as though we were his company while at the same time keeping in perspective that insurance was not a profit center for us but a very critical part of doing business. In addition to continuing to having him handle all of our insurance and surety business of every type, a mandate was issued stating that we would not be discussing insurance with any other agency in the future. Over the coming months and years we successfully provided Therrell with numerous referrals including the Can Am Racing Circuit all of which he handled with the same care and attention to detail.
Little did he know that a few years later he would be insuring for us the first Texas Formula One Grand Prix and the construction of a new race track. Although in the weeks surrounding the race there was a lot of work involved, he had time to socialize and make friends with the Formula One drivers and the celebrities. Great Customer Service has its Rewards!
As it turned out, Therrell had been providing outstanding and thorough professional work and customer care all along. The misunderstanding and criticism had originated entirely from my new CFO who had a personal agenda to direct our insurance account to one of her friends. The unanticipated benefit to Therrell from this unwarranted criticism was that it provided him a unique platform from which to show me personally the quality of work and coverage for which I had been paying. His pleasant and professional response was so uniquely thorough that I left the meeting with a maximum comfort level which has continued throughout our relationship.