Calling in for canceling a subscription nowadays has become so much harder for some customers, with some taking it to social media to air their grievances. One such instance is the viral Comcast cancellation call recorded by AOL VP of Product Ryan Block. Block called in to terminate his service but the very persistent customer service representative badgered him for more than 10 minutes with canned responses about Block losing the best service in the market. This caused fellow Comcast customers to share their bad experiences with the company, and the rest of the Internet kept on talking about it for weeks.
Comcast has since then offered a personal apology to Block, and issued a public statement on its blog, condemning the rep's behavior as "unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives."
Customer service experience, whether bad or good, has the potential to go viral on social networks, bringing in corresponding publicity to companies in a flash. To save your company of getting into a viral disaster, here are three of the some no-no's that you need to take note of when a customer wants to pull the plug:
1. Don't make the customer hate you more
At one point in the Comcast call, Block said "This phone call is a really, actually amazing example of why I don't want to stay with Comcast".Companies should learn that one way to retain customer loyalty is allowing their customers to make their own choices when they want to cut off ties with you, especially if they feel it is not working for them anymore. When you let them leave on a friendly note and an assurance that you will be willing to welcome them again once they decide to come back, you are not only opening the door for them but another window of opportunity for your former customer to talk nicely about you.
While Comcast may have been quick to condemn the customer service representative, experts in the industry noted that the representative was simply following protocol by trying to retain the customer by upselling. Most companies do not allow their representatives to simply cancel services without "valid" reason and the agent might have just been aggressively trying to prevent Block from cancelling, maybe because of an incentive or a quality assurance rule.
2. Don't enforce rules that are contrary to reason
A widow named Betty shared that she was refused to cancel a subscription under her deceased husband's name because according to the representative, her (deceased) husband should be the one cancelling. Despite explaining the obvious situation, she was denied the cancellation - twice! The third call went to the supervisor where she had the satisfactory help and answer that she simply needed to supply them with the death certificate of her deceased husband. The issue was resolved but the experience made her simply not want to deal with the company ever again.
Rules are not meant to be enforced without reason, they are meant to act as guidelines for issues. Representatives need to be taught the line of alternative solutions when a customer simply cannot meet requirements. Dead account holders aside; this routinely happen during password resets.
3. Don't be nice to a customer just because they're recording the call
After being charged $180 for installation services Comcast didn't actually provide, Tim Davis recorded his various attempts to get the fees reversed. It's a good thing, too, because if he hadn't told them he was recording, Comcast would never have relented.
CSR: "Since I advised my manager that there is a recording and you were misinformed," the rep explains, the charges can be reversed after all.
Davis: "You're telling me that if I didn't have a recording of that call, you wouldn't have been able to do it?" he says.
CSR: "Yes, that is correct."
Clearly, the customer service representative needed to learn how to practice good customer skills instead of being brutally honest. It clearly lets customers use recording phone calls to their advantage, allowing them to make demands that might put Comcast at a further disadvantage. Simply relaying that after much consideration, Davis' request is being granted would have sufficed.
What You Can Learn from These Customer Service Mistakes
Customer service is a struggle between balancing protocol and bending backwards to make customers happy. A little tip towards any of these would result in very bad or very good reputation. And as companies realize that customer service reflects greatly on their brand reputation, bending backwards a few times wouldn't really hurt their business in the long run.
The return of investment may not be as viral as a bad publicity will likely hurt, but the compounded efforts to really bring a positive customer service experience will bring about loyalty in the long run.