I Neeeed Your Business…

Or, “The best way to lose customers and influence bad reviews”…

Let’s start from the beginning.

About a year ago, I decided to sign up for a service to enhance my listening experience. The service itself was pretty good. I wouldn’t rave over it, but for the time, and maybe in the future, it met my needs. However, from the outset, the company almost lost my business.

The signup process was pretty simple. Set me up, take my credit card information, and give me “all access”. Should have taken no more than 5-10 minutes. Should have… but no… the service person had to keep talking… keep offering me things that I had already declined. Offering me things that literally made no sense. Then when it came to the charges, said that everything was included, but then said there was another charge… I spent more time clarifying things that didn’t need to be clarified that I left a very simple sign up process extremely frustrated, and not confident about the actual product I was receiving.

As I said, the overall product served its purpose. I could think of improvements, but for the price it wasn’t anything I was focused on.

As situations changed in my life, I needed to make the decision to cancel the service. The reasons for the change were my own. I wasn’t happy about it, and was not in the mood to┬átell a stranger the reasons for my change. I just wanted to cancel the service and get on with my life. Unfortunately, again, that was not to be.

I called the company, told them I needed to cancel my service, explained as much of my situation to the person on the line as I felt necessary, only to have him transfer me to someone else. With the transfer, he did none of the things I always required of my customer service teams: he didn’t prep the next person for what was happening, he didn’t do a warm hand off, he didn’t even explain why I had to tell him everything if he wasn’t the right person to speak to. So, here I am, a frustrated customer, getting more frustrated by the supposed service I was receiving.

The next person got on the line, and I realized I had to start over with him. Not happy. I told him I needed to cancel the service. He asked me if I would tell him why, and I told him no, that I didn’t want to explain why. I just needed to cancel the service. This prompted him to go into his sales pitch. “I can offer you this!” I told him I don’t need another offer, I just need to cancel my service. He wouldn’t quit. Offer after offer, syrupy sweet sales talk that never ended, causing me to erupt in a tirade of my situation, which made me feel even worse about why I had to cancel, making me even more mad, and completely frustrated with the fact that he wouldn’t give me the dignity to know what I wanted and why.

You would think that would be the end of it… no… he kept on. “Here’s a different offer!” I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode where you couldn’t get out no matter what door you chose. After wasting my time and patience for far too long, he decided he would process my request, but not without continuing to try to sell me the entire time. What are they teaching these people? Bully them with kindness until they just give in?

Was that the end? Oh, I thought so, but no… again I was fooled. Not 3 weeks passed, and I was getting calls from the company with yet another offer to come back. I said, “Do you realize I just cancelled?” The person on the line said no, and that I “was selected” to receive this great offer. But wait… it gets better… I told him:

“don’t call me again. When I am ready to renew, I will”.

“Ok, can you confirm that you don’t want to receive any more calls?”

“Yes”

“Can you confirm that you don’t want to receive any more calls?”

“Yes”

“Can you confirm that you don’t want to receive any more calls?”

You see the ridiculousness of this, right? Anything to trip the consumer into not receiving what they had said. He was not going to remove me from the list if I had not said (again) that I didn’t want to receive any calls. The final kicker: He said that he would remove me from the list, but that I still may receive telemarketing calls from them… What???

Business owners, customer service organizations, salespeople, listen: it’s very simple. Treat people as people – the way you would want to be treated, with the same respect you would want for yourself or your family. Customers want to be customers, and they also want the dignity of not being customers when they need to make a change. How you exit a customer will determine how soon they will come back, or how many people they will refer. I have had many customers over the years who for reasons of their own left our business, but remained loyal to our company – either coming back when they had the opportunity, or continuing to refer people they thought could benefit from what we had to offer.

Don’t be a needy business. Train your service people to be professional, and not just scripted with your clients. The more you do, the more your clients will remain loyal advocates of your business.

Notable Notables

I have two Seinfeld clips for you. The first is Jerry dealing with a car rental company who took his reservation but had no car for him:

The second highlights how we feel when telemarketers don’t treat us as regular people

 

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