Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Customer Satisfaction, a Big Cable Company, and You.

Treating customers with respect and courtesy sounds simple enough, no? The consumer buys your product or service, you keep them happy by throwing a sale or a deal out once in a while, promptly answer their questions when they call you, and award them for their loyalty (especially if they hint on bailing on you). It’s not rocket science. It’s relationship marketing.

Well maybe it is rocket science. I recently closed an account with a cable company and their actions were, well, out of this galaxy. Here’s the letter I wrote, changing the name of the “innocent”:

Dear Friends at Phase-Peacener:

Call off the hounds please. Your $51.04 is safe, in fact, here it is.
Now that you’ve lost me as a customer forever, let me tell enlighten you as to what transpired in regards to closing my account at a rental property I own.

Sent a check for $92.24 on 10/24/11. That appeared to be the final invoice, since my account was closed; however, I received another bill for $51.04.

So I called around the end of November; sorry, don’t know the date. Was on the phone quite a while; the gent I spoke with was very friendly and helpful.  Apparently, my check, #2646, never made it to you. He verified that, and while on the phone with him, I went into my bank account online and checked. It was never cashed.

Your rep explained that I was credited back $41.20 at some point, so my new total was $51.04. We both agreed that it would make sense to wait a bit longer to see if my check from 10/24 would arrive. If it did indeed wind up being cashed, then a refund would be sent for $41.20. Makes sense, no?

Sending another check right away would just increase the amount owed back. I really didn’t want to hand over more money to Time Warner Cable when I already was AHEAD. Apparently, the rep never made any notes in my account about the SNAFU.

Now I receive a bill from a collection agency. SERIOUSLY? Did you think I ran off to Brazil with less than $100?  That amount wouldn’t even get me on the plane, let alone pay for a snack and my luggage fees. Do you really think that I wouldn’t pay? I’ve paid without fail, for years! 

It’s amazing how quickly an account that “owes” a handful of change gets turned over to a collection agency. After the fees you’ll be paying them, perhaps $20 is what you’ll get? And with all that paperwork just to turn over the account to them, it’s likely you’re out more than $51.04.

In summary, your lack of customer care cost you:
A few dollars
Time wastefully spent for an employee or two.
The possibility that I will share this event with others.
Loss of my ever using your services in the future. So please stop sending  junk mail to me.

Best Regards,

Clearly, no one assessed the situation; the account was automatically set out for collection. That was a big mistake. As noted, someone who never missed a payment probably isn’t going to abscond with the money. The rep made an error by not making a note in the account as to why it was outstanding. A simple program or even a human (imagine THAT?) could have touched the account prior to sending it to a collection agency. Their process appears to missing a few steps; not hard to include a few.

But what are the consequences? Loss of one account. Eh. DO note I stated “the possibility that I will share this with others.” The internet enables my blog post to travel. Quickly. It could result in some more accounts lost, as those who are contemplating a change decide to get a dish.  The viral spreading of these words turns my $51.04 “issue” into a global event. That’s a far cry from chatter at the local coffee clutch in days of yore.

The power of Social Media makes customer satisfaction critical to any business. Beep beep.


Anonymous said...

I've been getting good results by tweeting complaints. Not much else gets their attention.

Shannon Grissom said...

Sooo frustrating!

Gerry Wendel said...

Yeah, why do they pick on people? Bad business. And in regards to tweeting complaints, a certain big box store that originated in Sweden, for one, does not care (been there done that).