A recent response to a discussion at CRMAdvocate (http://www.crmadvocate.com/) got me to think about the state of delivering customer service as it stands today. And I’ll use a personal example to illustrate a comparison.
I currently spend around $130 per month for my wireless service (voice and data). In the past I have spent over $300 in certain months. Whether it’s a lot or not, or whether I am a “valued customer” or not, is not material here. The point is I (like everyone else) will continue to shop for a better price, without sacrificing the types of services and features that I need. The results of my personal research had led me to switch service providers and plans twice in the past 3 years. Even including the “penalty” for cancelling mid-contract, I have managed to lower my bills and maintain my mobility needs.
Now, here comes the part about customer service. During both interactions with my incumbent service provider, I was sent to a representative whose job is to “save” the account and, where possible, the current rate of billing. The word “save” or “Save Team” is a common industry term, used within contact centers, to denote a set people-process, with a mandate to try to retain a defecting customer (funny – I was trying to “save” my money too!). In both of these interactions, the representative offered a better plan, on the spot, either for immediate savings, or for future cost savings (low cost or free upgrades, free features, etc.) and I would not have to compromise my key needs. Both times, I was told that their offers are based on the assessment of my monthly spending (which was apparently higher than their average revenue per customer) and loyalty (I had been with the first provider for over 2 years).
I am not the only one with a story like this. But why do organizations pay attention only when a customer is about to defect? Why do organizations respond to a complaint (or rant) when it starts to gather steam on social media? Why do organizations offer a solution only when a mistake has been made?
We live in a world where access to customer information, preferences and experiences (voluntary, of course) are easier than ever. The volume of customer feedback is ever-increasing as well. Social media has fuelled this explosion of customer commentary – good, bad and everything in between. Isn’t it about time that organizations responded with a more proactive approach, and not wait until customers are ready to defect?
Each interaction allows the opportunity to find out more about the customer. What are the challenges, really, of harnessing this valuable information, and using it to offer proactive solutions to customers before they decide to look elsewhere? And what is the ROI on reaching out to customers, to continue to learn about their changing preferences, tastes, interests and buying habits to create new products and services? Do the long-term benefits outweigh the immediate, and potentially cheaper, justifications to try to ‘save’ the customer at the last minute?
By the way, I saved by switching to a different service provider.