Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cancellation - the final step in a long and drawn out process

Dealing with customers that want to cancel is hard. I know - I'm personally in the midst of trying to cancel my Television/Internet service & trying to keep my frustration in check is difficult to say the least! - however, this blog is not about the customer experience, but rather how to ensure that the customer does not feel the way they do!

But ... that being said, my situation does make for a great case study so lets explore exactly what happened & where we are now.

I was a happy customer with my local Television/Internet provider (Cogeco) and paying about $100/mo for their services which I though reasonable.  However this price was based on a 1 yr promotion, so when that year was up and the price jumped to $189, I thought it would be reasonable to see if they would match the prices being offered by their competitors.  In addition, the promotion for new customers now was $75 or something like that, for similar services - unfortunately they were not willing to meet anywhere close to that, and the best they could offer was a $20/mo loyalty discount, bringing my price down to $169.

Well, as you can imagine, I started to look around.  While I was happy with the service, the price was too high in comparison to other businesses.

Fast forward a couple of months and I'd moved to another company and called Cogeco to cancel my service.  I was informed that because I'd taken advantage of the $20 promotion, I'd have to pay a penalty of $70 to cancel.  Doing some quick math in my head, I figured that it would still be worth it as I'd make that back in one month with the new company.  However, the "cancellation specialist" informed me that if I waited till the end of the month, I'd be able to skip the cancellation fee which seemed like a smart move for me.

Today takes us to my 2nd call to a different "cancellation specialist" where I'm now informed that I'm still going to be stuck with that cancellation fee and I've actually ended up paying for an additional 3 weeks of service with a company that I could not even use as their equipment was literally unplugged from the wall!

At this point, I'm willing to bite the bullet with the cancellation fee just to move on, but I don't want to also have to pay for those extra weeks of service as that would have only made sense if I wasn't paying the cancellation fee!  So I've asked for an escalation to the manager (which they cannot do, but promise a 24hr call back ... stay tuned).

So long story short, lets reiterate some of the pain points and issues:

  1. Special Offers - special offers are a great tool to entice new business to an organization and the discounts to get customers on board are absolutely essential.  However, when an offer ends and the price doubles, you can expect customers to leave.  You might get some people that just ignore the increase, but not too many I suspect.  If and when customers do call in to discuss the offer, reasonable discounts should be made available to entice them to stay, perhaps even enhancements to the service - Netflix for example, or increased bandwidth or something along those lines.
  2. Hold Times - I didn't really discuss it in my scenario above, but my hold time was close to 30 - 45 minutes + the time spent discussing the issue with the individual.  This did not help my mood at all, and I expect that the reason for the extreme hold time was very much due to #1 above!
  3. Copious Notes & Details + Follow Through - I unfortunately spent too much time once I spoke to the representative repeating myself with regards to the fact that my issue was not the $70 cancellation fee, but rather the discrepancy in information between the previous representative and this one and that I was now on the hook for an additional service charge for a service that I had not been using.
  4. Unwillingness to help an existing customer - despite my previous point about special offers, there is actually a cost to the business in terms of churn.  By not making me a competitive offer, not only have they lost my business now (short term), they've also lost my potential business in terms of upsell opportunities in the longer term also.  Not to mention this post and it's potential damage overall!  It would have been far simpler and better for them if they were up front right from the start and said there was nothing they could do - sure they would have lost my revenue for a couple of months, but they might have potentially had me return in 6-12 months to take advantage of any "new" customer promotions that they might have then been offering.  

So that's the scenario, what could they have done differently to not get me to the point where I'm airing my dirty laundry in public?

  1. Allow their staff to negotiate in good faith in an effort to truly retain customers.  A 10% discount on a bill is not really any incentive when the competition is offering 50%.  Something reasonable like 25%-30% would probably ensure that customers were retained, while still helping to maintain the bottom line.
  2. If $'s are not available in terms of incentives, offer additional services that the client might not even need or use as a benefit.  It's a bit of a cheat, but increasing bandwidth is a great selling point if you know that it is not going to be utilized as then the customer believes they are getting something "better" but there is no real impact to the business.
  3. Staff your queues appropriately with staff that are trained to not only defuse irate customers, but also able to look for solutions and options.  Customer service is not just about keeping someone quiet - it's about actually helping them.
  4. Remember that your existing customers matter also ... churn hurts a business and having to reacquire customers is not only difficult and time consuming, it's expensive also!  It wastes not only the companies resources, but in this case the consumer also with the reprogramming of devices + the retraining of family members on how to use the devices!
  5. Ensure that your staff provide accurate and reliable information (I'll let you know what the supervisor says if I actually get a call back) so that the message the first time is the same message the second and third!  
  6. Staff your queues appropriately to ensure that hold times are minimized and offer high tech options to customers to get them off queues.  Tools and technologies like chat, knowledge and phone system call backs are all ways of helping to reduce wait times.
That's my 2c for today - stay tuned to see how this one ends up and lets see if they can turn me around.


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