Funny things, relationships.
For most organisations, that “relationship” has the same attributes, strengths and challenges as our own personal liaisons. There is of course a mutual benefit, but put a customer’s hat on and while the basic requirements of trust, respect, empathy and support are still there, the relationship becomes more of a convenient association.
Customer Experience Management (CEM) accepts that from time-to-time, for whatever reason and for however long, we switch to try out what a competitor has to offer. Any loyalty is to our wallets and our own agenda first. Yet organisations easily mistake inertia for loyalty.
So if for some reason the relationship gets broken, the organisation is not going to help itself by reacting like a moody teenager who thinks they’ve been jilted for an alien slime-ball, shouting “Well, I never valued you anyway!”. To mix metaphors, throwing dolls out of the pram will put the skids under the relationship quicker than a dog on wet lino.
But that’s what it can feel like as a customer. A case in point, as experienced by your erstwhile correspondent very recently. Mobile phone contract due for renewal in two months. After 6 years with one supplier, the decision is to change. Proof, if it was needed, that even those who give high customer satisfaction scores can switch.
The instructions on how to back out of a contract are hard to find (a coincidence?) but eventually it’s just a matter of giving 30 days’ notice. Fine. Email sent and confirmation of the PAC number comes back with final date. Then the current supplier calls but because the smooth “Please don’t go, we really value you” patter doesn’t change things, the conversation turns sour.
It’s pointed out that the ‘how to leave’ section of the website was virtually undetectable. “What did you expect?” comes the incredulous reply. Ok, so now we know where we stand. Any thought that I would happily consider them next time were fading fast. And that was just the beginning.
They didn’t offer a reminder that the bank payment details need changing. On the day the contract expired, they didn’t send an SMS giving me an hour’s notice that the connection will disappear. They didn’t say that the handset would be locked, preventing any other supplier’s SIM card working. They therefore also kept hidden the fact that to unlock the handset needed someone in-store to send an email to someone at head office who would email the unlocking instructions – they couldn’t do it themselves – with an SLA of 48 hours. “So, my phone is dead and you knew that would happen all along?”, “Er, yeah”. (Arghh!).
And until then, it was all going so well. But because they showed a complete lack of respect, empathy and support it will be of no surprise that whatever “relationship” we had is now over. I know how important it is to stop customers leaving, I get that, but those unnecessarily high barriers, both emotional and physical, were just too much.
We’re an item no more – after that experience we never will be. And that’s a shame. It didn’t have to end that way.Jerry Angrave Customer Experience Consulting www.customerexperience.uk.com [email protected] +44 (0) 7917 718072