Much excitement in the Jones household last week, as we needed to renew our home insurance. We'd received a renewal in the post from our existing insurer – mentioning no names, ohhh yesss – a quote of about £210, up 30% on last year, saying that it would automatically renew if they didn't hear from us. I have absolutely no brand loyalty when it comes to insurance, so I did the honourable thing and went straight on the excellent

Once logged in, it brought up last year's details (saving me the time of inputting them all again) and with a single click I had the most competitive quotes at my fingertips. Imagine my surprise when my existing insurer was shown at the top of the list (complete with annoying grinning bulldog) with a quote for exactly the same policy of £159. Even once I clicked through to the insurer's site, the price remained the same.

I called my insurer to query this disparity. The lacklustre 'Brian' at the call-centre tapped a few keys and eventually reported back that the best price he could offer for renewal was £189 and even had the gall to ask me if I wanted to pay for that there and then. I politely pointed out that by cancelling the current policy and buying it again through I'd be saving £30 so why would I buy it from him?

Brian apologised (at least he'd been taught to do that in his call-centre training) and explained that the system wouldn't let him match the price, as though that were a reasonable enough explanation.

And here lies the point. The web is a wonderful thing that is providing huge growth for millions of businesses, but if you really care about what your customers think, you must ensure your online experience matches your offline.

If you'd like help joining up the dots in your business, call Adrian Lomas or Rob Smith on 01829 260 600 or email or