09
Jan
09

Happy Ex-Customers

The web abounds with stories about unpleasant customer service experiences. In the context of today’s economy, customer service is more important than ever, even when dealing with a customer who wants to leave one’s service for another. Admittedly, making it easy for a customer to leave you for a competitor seems counterintuitive.

However, in both of my recent customer service boondoggles, my original reasons for moving weren’t due to unhappiness with the service itself.  Since both companies chose to act the jilted lover, I’ve gone from being a positive reviewer to a disgruntled, almost-former customer. Prior to my poor experiences, there was every reason to think that some day I might use these companies again.

Protecting You As An Excuse

I appreciate as much as the next person companies who protect my interests and any investments I’ve made in their services. However, when that protection is used, a layer at a time, to hinder a switch between services, it looks less like the company is protecting me and more like it’s protecting its interests.

In this particular instance, I was attempting to consolidate my domain names with one registrar. As I followed the necessary steps, I kept going back and forth between the FAQs, looking for details on completing the transfer. Over the next three days, I discovered three different things I needed to do before a valid transfer could be completed. Every time I did a search in the FAQs, I never found a single entry for domain transfer that listed all of the three things I was told needed to happen.

Made Up Answers

I’d much rather a customer service rep said, “I don’t know, but let me find out,” versus making up an answer. A larger provider recently bought my local carrier, which has resulted in a number of policy changes, including the necessity of signing a new contract. I’d considered switching to another carrier, but decided to see if the new owner was worth working with. Unfortunately, each visit to the store produced a different rep with a different story about the policy changes and plan options.

Even more frustrating, requests to speak to either a manager or a more senior rep were ignored. Recently, I learned of an acquaintance with a business plan who received a $7,000+ text message bill because they had unknowingly lost their unlimited texting when they signed the new contract. Resolving the issue required a call to the corporate offices and the approval of a VP. Combined with my recent experience, I’ve lost any interest in remaining with this carrier, and other options are being considered.

Happy Ex-Customers

I haven’t mentioned the names of the two (well-known) companies for the reason I see no need to give them free, albeit bad, press. These experiences have shown me that while the end result of me switching services stays the same, there was no requirement that I also end up loathing the companies. The good customer service stories are out there. Companies know how they should behave. The only question is whether or not they choose to.

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