Over my 12 or so years working in market research I have come across the odd brief that aims to understand key drivers of customer loyalty, or conversely how to halt customer churn.
Here’s my answer; and you can have this one for free…
Don’t piss your customers off…
Respect their time…
Create a culture that is about helping them with their issues, not make them worse
It’s not rocket science.
Here is my story…
This morning I received a text from Virgin Mobile Australia saying that I am coming close to my agreed credit limit. Weird. So I went on-line and discovered my account was at some ridiculously high amount. Checked my data charges and they were all good. So it must be something in my call charges. I have never reached my limit, so I wanted to find out what was going on. At this stage I am still open to the fact this could be my problem. I am on a new plan so I’m not sure how it’s all working out. Maybe I have made more calls than I normally have, although I am not sure I have.
So I call the customer service team. My experience with the Virgin Mobile customer service team in the past has been frankly terrible. Appalling. Hair-pulling-frustratingly crap. You get the picture. But there has always been light at the end of the tunnel via their very responsive and most-excellent social media team. The person (or people?) who handles their twitter account has helped me out on more than one occasion, or at least been a sympathetic ear to my issue.
But just once I’d like to call their “customer service” team and not be frustrated enough with their handling of my issue. To not be forecd into asking their social media guys for help. Just for once for them to listen to what I need, and be able to deliver it.
I’m not sure why I had any basic expectations with this call, as they’ve never been able to help me, but yes – I have a 20 minute plus phone call that instead of just answering my question (“is it actually me who has made all these calls or is something gone awry in the system”, “Am I on the wrong plan?”) I get to talk to two members of their team who have not been enabled in any way to help me. In fact, they get me so angry and frustrated that if I could walk away from Virgin Mobile right now I would.
It’s all good and well to have a great social media team to monitor what is being said about your brand and help customers out if needed, but hey, here’s a radical idea – why not create a service culture that means that things don’t have to be “escalated”?
I am singling out Virgin Mobile Australia here as I am a customer – an unhappy one, and my experience is still a fresh and ugly wound . But I have these same experiences with a whole lot of other service businesses and I’m sure you do too. Frustrating and annoying.
So I sit and wait for someone to call me and tell me why my bill is so high this month – who knows? Maybe it is my calls? Maybe it’s not. But the fact that no one can tell me until my bill is created in four days time seems a bit stupid. Especially as they send out a message telling me it’s high. If you don’t want me to ask why it’s so high or you can’t tell me, don’t send the flipping message! Is the message designed to hep alleviate what they call “bill shock”? Trust me, I am already shocked but also now frustrated and really, really angry!
So yes – a simple story to help stop churn.
So service businesses of Australia. If you want to stop churn…Get your service culture right. Offer us a great product. Don’t piss us off. Be great to us instead. If all that fails, your sexy new marketing campaign won’t turn me around. In fact, whenever I see it it will just remind me how disappointed and cross with you I am. There, I just saved you about $200,000 in research costs, and god knows how many squillions in a fluffy new ad campaign to try and make me feel good about you.
(Right now I am looking at a box from Zappos that says “powered by service”. I’d like a little bit of that culture right now. It’s a great line and from what I hear they deliver to that.)