Customer service needs common sense not aggression

It is one thing to do an exit interview, in order to gain feedback from unhappy customers. They are, after all, more likely to be honest and therefore the information is more likely to be of real value.

It is quite another to put in the bully boys to try and persuade people to stay with your company. This ‘exit interview’ which, when it became clear it was anything but, was taped, has now been listened to by over four million people. It will have damaged Comcast quite a lot.

Not only does it demonstrate the power of social media and blogs as dangerous places for large companies, but it also shows up the thinness of the veneer that is – in many cases – customer service.

The BillingViews team tried to listen to the tape and all of us had to stop about half way through. The hectoring was simply too much.

No matter how good the technology, no matter if you can answer the phone within five minutes (anybody?) and no matter how well integrated all your customer channels are, if there is no common sense behind the policy, you will suffer.

As Comcast is trying to persuade the FCC that it is a fit parent for Time Warner, (they have been called the worst company in America) and yet we have to listen to their salespeople bullying people into staying with their company. 

The fact is that no company is perfect. For this reason if a customer jumps ship, surely common sense would say ‘find out why’ and then let them go with a ‘thank you for your business’ (this customer had been with Comcast for nine years). That way, when their next service provider cannot provide the service requested, or over charges him or is rude to him, he might think, ‘well Comcast wasn’t so bad after all, and I bet they treat returning customers like royalty.’

It is, fundamentally, not about what technology you can bring to bear to do business with, but about how you do business. And the transformations that are happening almost everywhere in the communications world at the moment will demand a real focus on the customer – by which we do not mean the laser glare of the pressured salesman.

If you change the culture within your organisation, we would suggest starting with common sense – and by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes every step of the way.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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