Please Refer Us to Your Family and Friends

I called my cell service provider today to cancel one of two lines that I had. I recently got a new phone and no longer needed a separate account for my PDA. I’m happy with the provider, I just didn’t need separate devices anymore. When I called and requested the line be terminated, the conversation went something like this:

Phone rep: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that you want to cancel your service. You have been a valued customer since 2000. Is there anything we can do to convince you to stay with our service?”

ME: “I’m not unhappy with the service and as I explained I’m not leaving your company – I just don’t need two lines anymore.”

Phone rep: “Well perhaps we could offer you a better rate plan. Would you like me to look into that?”

ME: “No, thanks, I still have all the same services I had before, but now I get them through one account so I have no need, at any price, for the second line.”

Phone rep: “OK, I can certainly take care of closing your account for you if there’s nothing we can do to keep your business. PAUSE. OK, ma’am, your account has been closed, but just so you know, you have 59 days should you decide you’d like to reinstate services from our company as we do value you as a customer and are disappointed that you no longer need our service. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

ME: “No.”

Phone rep: “OK, thank you and please refer us to your family and friends.”

I had to wonder where the training broke down there. She was treating a perfectly happy customer as though I was unhappy, and in fact made me feel like I wasn’t getting good customer service because she clearly wasn’t listening to a word I was saying. To top it all off, at the end of the conversation, she asked me to refer my friends and family to her. So which is it – am I an unhappy customer they want back or am I satisfied customer that they want to encourage to go out and talk about their services to people who trust me? Sounds like they need to update their phone script.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is customer service cannot be a cookie cutter. I’m sure the minute the word “cancel” came out of my mouth the computer chugged away and spit out a script for this woman to read. It didn’t matter what my answers were – she was trained to read that script and by-golly that’s what she was going to do. Do I feel valued? Nope, not at all.

I would have much preferred the rep to actually listen to what I was saying and offer assistance based on what I said. Asking how I liked my new phone or if there were any additional services I would be interested in would have been more appropriate. But, no, not in the script.

Think about the last time you experienced great service……still thinking?……not surprising. Good customer service is lost on most people today. A poor economy usually means customer service improves, but I haven’t noticed it. I rarely even get a “thank you” after the completion of a sale.

Perhaps I’m particularly cognizant of this as I spend a lot of time talking about the individualized service offered through direct selling. Think about it – you’re shopping with someone who knows you or at least knows something about you. You can call them at any time with questions and they’ll follow up with you after the sale to make sure you’re happy with your purchase. It’s their job to make sure you are happy and most take that role very seriously. Some people may not like being treated like a valued customer – and may even mistake it for being pestered – but the alternative is anonymous and sterile and doesn’t make me feel good in an economy that could use a little sunshine.

So the next time you’re out shopping, take note of how you are treated as a customer and then consider how you would like to be treated. Try the same thing if you are a direct seller yourself – treat your customers in the same way you’d like to be treated, listen carefully when they talk to you, pick up on the details that will make them feel important and then do your best to make them the most satisfied customer you have. Do this and you’ll feel confident saying “Please refer me to your family and friends!”

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