Retention: Comcast & Sky Redefine Customer Service
Two companies with recent incidences of poor customer service: Comcast and Sky have had their call center habits thoroughly lambasted. They have had cases where customer retention specialists forced unsatisfied customers to endure lengthy calls trying to convince them not to cancel their services.
In these two cases, instead of canceling the customers’ services as requested, the customer service agents forced customers to endure frustrating hours trying to persuade them not to leave.
Customer retention is in the minds of all businesses across the world. With rising costs of customer acquisition, companies are coming up with innovations, assuming proactive roles in retaining customers at all costs. The fact that customer profitability tends to increase over the life of a retained customer is added incentive for businesses to sharpen their retention strategies. However, there are some companies that have changed the real meaning and purpose of customer service. Such companies place more emphasis on customer retention than on quality customer service. From airlines to wireless phone carriers to banks to cable television internet providers and supermarkets, we hear sad stories of bad customer service.
What are some of the reasons that makes companies fail to honor a customer’s request to cancel the services?
The customer is no longer viewed as a human but as a mere source of revenue
Most companies are no longer insisting on offering quality services but on increasing productivity and profits. Call center have become sales centers. This is one reason when a customer calls, and the agents are pitched with everything under the sun instead of actually helping customers find solutions to the issues that made them call in the first place.
Little attention is paid to the value of quality customer service delivery and agents are forced to focus on sales and profitability results and not the on customer needs.
Companies are immensely pressuring agents and staff to upsell and retain customers
Companies pressure their representatives to ensure they retain customers at all cost. Retention specialists are given bonuses when they manage to convince a customer not to leave, but they are punished when they are unsuccessful in retaining a customer. Company’s policies and ethics are mostly to blame in cases where agents pressurize customers against downgrading or disconnecting their services.
Ultimately, a sales agent or a customer retention agent will try to use some of the weapons he has in his arsenal to prevent losing a deal. While these companies focus on wooing and retaining customers, little attention is paid in making customer retention specialist understand the effects poor customer service has on customers’ satisfaction. Customer service involves to the level of a company’s responsiveness, quality communication, morale, and teamwork.
Government‘s inability to act against monopolies
Government regulators face a dilemma when dealing with monopolies. Government’s failure to regulate laws on monopolies is part of the reason that monopolistic companies have no rule enforcers to oversee their performance and ascertain that their outcomes are beneficial to consumers and producers.
Regulations should be put in place to force companies to compete. In such a case, supercharged competition will allow new companies to enter the market resulting in consumer sovereignty. Such regulations will also help in simplifying the pricing strategies and service delivery. There is a need for a new competition policy that puts the interest of consumers first.
Customers do not have many options when it comes to choosing vendors
The Comcast and Sky TV cases feature situations where there are many buyers and a few service providers. In such a case, customers do not have many options when it comes to choosing vendors or close substitutes. The consumers do not have many alternatives even when the services are poor.
To summarize it the tenets of these such companies seem to be:
- Never tolerate competition
- If customers discover other options for service, they make it impossible to cancel
- Holding customers “hostage” in the name of customer retention
- Mainly focus on profit
What lessons can companies learn from Comcast and Sky’s poor customer service?
A call center is not just a place where people can call in when they have complaints. On average, businesses lose around 20 percent of its customers by just failing to attend to customer relationships. All companies ought to make sure that they are known for the right kind of customer service.
Listen and limit persistence
The customer service agents in the two cases don’t seem to listen to the customers’ problems. Throughout the conversations, the agents’ responses are centered on trying to insist that the customers should not discontinue or degrade the services and not what the customers really want. It is vital for agents to listen to the customer’s problem and respond with a solution. It is right to ask for a reason but its wrong to demand customers to tell you why they wish to discontinue.
Customer service agents are taught to be persistent to an extent but this persistence should be limited. These agents are there to offer the best assistance they can, and dodging the solution makes customers angrier, and this only aggravates the problem.
Customers are always right even when you feel they are wrong
A customer is always right even when you feel they are not. As a company, you should try to do what makes the customers happy even when it means discontinuing their services. True commitment means serving customers right from the minute they consider doing business with you, to the bitter end and beyond.
Companies should train customer service representatives to be customer-centric in all their interactions
Structure your business with the customer in mind and continuously calibrate your strategies to ensure that the customers are always at the center of what you do. Anti-customer policies should never be tolerated in a company.
Do whatever it takes to keep your current customers happy
It is the easiest and cheapest way to retain customers than to convince them to not to cancel their services after poor service delivery. The applicable term to use, in this case, is making the customers happy and not holding them hostage.
Always provide your customer service agents with the necessary context to succeed by giving them instant access to your customer database
The customer service representative should have access to essential customer information like past interactions. This will provide a better picture of the customer. It will make the agent aware of his position to advise the customer and get the freedom to buck up his customer retention score card.
An open company should be ready to serve customers, deliver excellent services every time and when there are mistakes, the company should give customers a chance to express their complaints, listen and use that as an opportunity to improve.