Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Slightly Abusive Relationship With Sprint to Continue

AdAge: I Can Change It; Really, I Can.
Just a follow-up to my 1,000-word hissy fit about the pricing for Sprint's Instinct cellphone for a longtime customer.
i.e. Ken Wheaton bitches about Sprint

I don't think I'll ever get tired bitching about bad service from phone companies, or banks in this country.
I have to agree with Ken Wheaton. The profits that phone companies make are astronomical. If they took a cut and focused on making their customers satisfied with what they are paying for, they would arrive at a destination called Happy Land.
In Happy Land:
  • Customers are happy
  • So happy with no reason to change providers, they would ended up being with that provider for life and more than happy to pay them money for it. The provider would make just as much money as they did before, if not more because of customer retention.
Why is that so hard to believe? And why isn't anyone doing anything about it?
Imagine the traffic of customers jumping ship if just one company implemented changes I'm about to list below:
  • Loyalty programs-
    • Status programs for Premium, mid level and devoted customers. Once customers reach status, they are eligible for various amounts of complimentary differentiated service.
    • Tracking great customers who pay their bills on time. Occasionally offer them free upgrades or small amounts of credit for their valued relationships
    • Create betterment teams who simply track and reward good customers, implement improvements and worry about keeping customers happy.
    • Know your customers - know their preferences, know what makes them happy, so that when you give freebies they actually value and appreciate it.
  • Train and equip customer service representatives with enough common sense and know how to treat customers well. Happy representatives make good representatives and are intrinsic to the process.
  • Stop wasting time by profusely saying Thank you to you customers. If you focused more time on actually making an account work instead of thanking a customer at every juncture you might get something done.
    And why are you thanking customers ALL the time anyway? Is it because you can't believe they are still sticking around after all the shit you've put them through? Sounds about right.
  • When something bad happens go above and beyond. I don't understand why most service companies do not get this. If a problem has occurred and the company is at fault for the mistake- it is not good enough to just 'fix it'. The damage has been done, and if you really want to repair the damage, the customer needs some sort of compensation for the frustration and inconvenience.
    For companies like airlines or online travel bookings where there is no locked in contract or guarantee of return, giving a customer that extra bit of gratitude for their business, will make them return again. To just apologise, fix and move on is almost certainly guaranteed for a one-timer. By turning the negative situation into a positive you gain an advocate who will most certainly be an outspoken one.
  • Be honest with customers- give them suitable solutions for their usage habits, just as Ken mentions in his article. Customers will respect your honesty if you're trying to give them the correct service, not just suck them dry.
  • Remove cancellation fees with good faith that your service is good enough to never have to come to that. Think of it as punishment and retribution if there is a cancellation, found out why teh cancellation occurred and fix it.
  • Throwing in something extra for no apparent reason goes a long way and makes a huge difference. Think of it this way- when a customer is thinking of leaving, this one or few instances of good will sway them to stay.
  • Good, reasonable service speaks for itself. If you offer existing customers a great deal, others will come flocking
What are you still doing here?
Go and fix up your customer service department.


BJ Cook said...

Hi Deb,

Wondering how you felt about posting some of your suggestions into their suggestion box:

Trying to spark conversations with brands and this is the kind of kindling that is great.

thanks BJ

Wisey said...

Hey BJ,

How about you go post it in the suggestion box?!

I don't have the time....
tell them to give me a free phone while you're at it. I do need a smart phone. I'm on some shitty prehistoric prepaid thing with AT&T



Anonymous said...

Deb, after all the bloody grief I have gone through with phone companies I would give my first born to a phone company who offered me GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.
If they were at least friendly and even attempted to solve my problem I would be happy.

Wisey said...

Janey- first born?! That's a little far fetched- even for you!

I'd say friendly and solving a problem is scraping the bottle of the barrel! Aim higher!