After months of moderate dissatisfaction with the media giant providing my telephone, cable, and internet service I changed telecommunications providers at home. The wait I endured while trying to reach the disconnect department told me I wasn't the only guy ending that bad relationship. My apathy turned to anger when I was told that a technician couldn't get to my home for over a week and that I would continue to be billed until the tech arrived. I thought that response over for a day and called back. The second rep I spoke with agreed that the Texas Attorney General's office wouldn't support that policy, that my service and billing would stop immediately, and that I would receive a refund rather than pay the additional $22 I was told I'd need to cough up the day before.
While setting everything up with my new provider, some of the reps gave me inaccurate information in the buying process. When I called to resolve the confusion I was treated professionally and policies were adapted to fit my unique situation. Overall, the customer service people at the new company listened, thought through a solution, got help or approval when necessary, and made a diligent effort to give me what I needed. Their obvious commitment to me as a consumer made me willing to accept the delays, work through the tech challenges, and remain positive about the problems that come with change. Remember--all problems are the result of change, but not all changes create problems.
I don't like to pontificate but these two sharply contrasting experiences motivate me to create a list of steps you can take to create unhappy clients and problems for your business. The list is not exhaustive but well-proven.
- Start the relationship by providing mediocre products and services.
- Put people on the phone who are apathetic, bored, and in an environment that is loud and distracting.
- Treat the customer like you really don't care whether he/she stays or goes.
- Say that you value the customer and then treat your client like you don't care if he/she stays or goes.
- Improperly train your technical people so they can't do what the customer needs them to do.
- When your customer says he is leaving, treat him in a way that reinforces the wisdom of his decision.
Statistically, the average unhappy customer tells 12 or more people. Some unhappy customers try to tell the whole world.