i left. you might. and so will your loyal customers.

Frustrated on phone As both a CEO and a consumer, I often experience customer service situations through a unique lens.  I am usually on the lookout for how to apply those experiences to my own organization. Seth Godin reminded me today of a recent encounter with my (now former) cable company that had the potential to teach me a powerful business lesson.

Which I completely ignored.

Until now….

You see, my husband and I were loyal Dish customers for almost 10 years.  For about the past year, we had been discussing the possibility of looking around but we were quite satisfied with the service.  We really thought perhaps that the outcome of our investigation would result in our continuing with Dish but negotiating better pricing.  We were certainly in no real hurry to switch primarily because we had many of our favorite programs saved on the Dish DVR and we were struggling with a simple way to save those to another device.

….then our HD hard drive crashed and we lost all of our recordings anyway – STRIKE ONE.

Bummer, drag.

Yet and still, Dish sent us a new HD box and with all we had on our plate we were still in no hurry. In the meantime, we continued to casually look around at other providers and we noticed that we could really save money even if we added more services. 

Still no hurry.

Then our new HD box began acting funny – STRIKE ONE AND A HALF.

Hmmmmm……

Still no hurry.

We became "ispired" while were out running errands one day at Sam's Club and a DirectTV rep "happened" to be in the store selling HD packages.  Fortuitous, right?

We got a great deal, saved ourselves about $100/month on comparable services (STRIKE TWO FOR DISH) and switched to Direct that day but it was when I called to cancel Dish that I learned the most.

Now remember, we had been Dish customers for 10 years.  Always paid on time.  Never a problem.  When I phoned Dish to cancel, the discussion went something like this:

Me: Hi.  I'm calling to cancel our Dish service.

Dish rep: Well hello.  I see you are one of our best customers.  Wow, you have been with us a very long time….  Well if you stay with Dish, we have a special going on that gives you free…(blah, blah, blah).  We also have a special program that can reduce your price on "x".

Me:  Well thank you but those deals still don't come close to saving the money I do by switching.  I am going to save $100/month.

Dish rep: Is that for comparable service because we do have the lowest pricing in the market.

Me:  You may think that's true but clearly if I'm saving $100/month for the same service, your pricing isn't the lowest.

Here is where it get's really interesting……

Dish rep:  Well, I see that you guys are not signed up for our email specials.  Had you been signed up for those and viewed them on a regular basis, you would have seen many specials that might have saved you more money because we do have the lowest prices in the market.

Me:  What I heard her say in my head was "It's your own fault stupid for paying too much." STRIKE THREE! What I replied was, "Well sweetie, I believe that YOU believe that you have the lowest prices in the market. Please just end my service."

Dish rep: Yes ma'am.  We're sorry to see you go.  We will send you some boxes to return your items.  You don't have an outstanding balance but we do charge you for the boxes to return your equipment..

Al-righty then.  After 10 years of being an excellent customer and OVERpaying for years and years and years, the final insult was an additional $31 charge to NOT be a Dish customer anymore.

MY LESSONS:

Great customers are valuable gems.  They need to be nurtured and cared for.  If Dish could decrease our bill by $40 when we threatened to leave, they could have decreased our bill JUST for being a loyal customer (which is better than a good customer).  If just once Dish had sent us a letter saying:

Thank you for your loyalty.  In reviewing our records, we see that you have been a customer for well over 5 years (or 6 or 7 or 8 or whatever the number is) and we would like to thank you by reducing your regular bill by $20/month.

Heck, it could have been $10 for all I care, the point is that we would have KNOWN they valued us and despite continuing to pay more money (even with the reduction), they would most likely have kept us for another 10 years.

As a CEO, I promise to do better for our clients – to notice, to reward and to be loyal to those who are loyal to us (and to ensure that our client services personnel NEVER call anyone stupid). We hope you will too.

Thank you for your continued confidence (and thank you Seth for the reminder).

Continue to be great!

 

PS.  For Seth's full blog post, click here.

 

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