I referenced the infamous recorded Comcast Retention call in a Tip of the Week on July 22. It’s been such a lightning rod for discussion that we just recorded a podcast addressing some of the key language that the Comcast representative used during the call. Now, we’ve gained access to what’s reported as being the company’s 13-Step Retention Call Approach. Let’s analyze this from the customer’s perspective.
- Greet customer clearly – This is good; customers want to know the employee’s name and department to make sure they called the right place.
- Clarify reason for call – We always say “Clarify and Confirm” – ask clarifying questions, then confirm your understanding. Customers want the employee showing that they know the reason for calling (and, in this case, canceling their service).
- Relate and empathize – Love this – especially the Empathy portion. Customers want to be understood.
- Take control – Not sure why this is here; “control” has a power/aggressive connotation. It’s not good to encourage representatives to get aggressive with a typically-upset customer. Customers don’t want to be controlled.
- Set the agenda – Again, this conveys aggression, taking over, not focused on listening.
- Ask targeted questions – This may be fine, depending on the definition of “Targeted.” We use that word to illustrate questions unique to the customer and their situation. However, the employee asked “targeted” questions such as “Why would you not want the fastest internet?” This is pushy and derogatory at the same time.
- Consider unstated needs / active listening – Active Listening is great! However, “unstated needs” is sales terminology. If someone wants to cancel, you’re in Service Recovery territory, not hardcore sales territory.
- Take ownership / make offer – These should work well.
- Overcome objections – This is fine as long as the customer’s still willing to dialogue about the issue; if they want to avoid the debate, quickly cancel and go to step 12.
- Close the save – Change this to “Close the save…or close the account.” In the end, do what the customer wants you to do.
- Confirm details – Always confirm next steps before closing.
- End on a positive note – Good step.
- Documentation – Good step.
Many of the steps are positive, but where they go wrong is that they focus too much on controlling the customer in a hardcore sales manner instead of communicating with a customer in a Service Recovery mindset.
When a customer wants to cancel or end the relationship, feel free to professionally ask for reasons, but remember that you’re delivering customer service, not driving the hard sell. You may retain just as many, and you’ll definitely avoid the horrific word-of-mouth that this call created.
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In Human Resources circles, a word that has become ubiquitous (which – by the way – is also ubiquitous) is “onboarding.” One way to define onboarding is that it’s the process of getting a new hire acclimated to their role as an employee. It’s also defined as “organizational socialization.” It enables new hires to get the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to have a successful transition into your business as effective employees.
While I’m not an expert on employee onboarding, I liken the concept to what we often recommend – let’s call it Client Onboarding.
When you have a new customer or client, if you are a long-term thinker, one who views the customer through the lens of their lifetime value as opposed to their one-time transaction, then it helps you to paint a picture of what Client Onboarding should entail.
If this new client of yours is one you want to keep for a long-time, over many years and transactions, consider these questions:
- What can you learn about them today that would help you to better serve them tomorrow?
- How can you ensure they have a good enough experience in this transaction that they’ll want to come back a second time?
- What can you share with them that will help them to know how to navigate your services or processes more easily in the future?
- Who or what do they need to know in your organization to begin forming the more social or personal relationship with your people and your business?
- What can you do with the environment so that it becomes more comfortable, self-evident, and familiar to them in a next visit?
- What can you do to solicit their feedback so they feel their voice is important and so you learn what’s important to them?
- How do you convey the appreciation that makes them feel valued in their ongoing relationship with you?
While these were just seven questions, notice the common thread in each…that thread is the future. The references to tomorrow, second time, future, and ongoing. The discussion of begin forming, become, and next.
Get your clients onboard. Be intentional about what you need to do to get a long-term journey started with them.
Enable “organizational socialization” for your clients.
Does loyalty matter anymore?
This isn’t about free agents in basketball or players switching clubs in the MLS. It’s not about Robinson Cano or Wayne Gretzky. It’s about the fan.
Much of the sports world – on the business side – is driven by rabid sales and marketing efforts. It’s the TV ads, the freebies to newcomers, the perks, discounts, packages, and personal attention.
But for the typical sports club – 75%-90%+ of this year’s ticket revenue comes from last year’s season ticket holders. So loyalty has a huge financial impact, but what are teams doing to show appreciation for that long-term support?
In the article Season-ticket holders: Honoring loyalty, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars tell a story of a 20-year season ticket holder and his commitment to the club, regardless of the performance on the field. According to the article, in this – the 20 year anniversary for the Jaguars – the team is recognizing that loyalty: “Each level of tenure will receive wearable memorabilia indicating length of association. They don’t just want recognition, they want to be able to show it off in the stadium. They want their hat to say, ’Twenty-year season-ticket holder.’ There will be things they can do and show people by what they can wear. Their names will be permanently displayed for people to see.”
We often tell our clients in and out of sports that customer loyalty is the easiest avenue to recurring revenue. Customer loyalty is the easiest path to business growth. But customer loyalty is also the easiest asset to take for granted.
Look at those clients that have been with you over time. Find ways to reward and recognize them. Find ways to nurture the relationship. Find ways to show that their loyalty matters.
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