When it's time to say goodbye, make sure to say thank you and to ask if you might have an opportunity to serve again.
I had an interesting experience with a cable provider recently. Due to a move, I finally had the option to switch to a provider whom I felt was a better fit for my needs. Overall I was generally pleased with service from them, but they didn't offer a specific package that their competitor did. I was ready to test the waters and there was probably very little the former company might have done at that point to retain my business. However, after years of generally satisfactory experience with them (and thousands of dollars spent!) my experience of terminating service left me feeling unappreciated and generally unlikely to seek out their service ever again. What happened? Quite simply no one ever told me thank you or even bothered to ask why I was leaving.
During the course of terminating service with my now former cable provider, I spoke with two of their customer service representatives. I called to state my intention to disconnect and to pay my final balance. The first representative thanked me for my payment and instructed me to return my equipment to a local office. I had the same experience when I showed up to drop everything off. Both representatives were polite but neither one thanked me for my business or asked if I would return to do business with them again.
I'm not sure they understood the true value of my business. Or at least that's how I felt: undervalued and under-appreciated after years of general satisfaction. They missed two easy opportunities (I contacted them!) to enhance our business relationship even though it was ending. If things had happened differently I would most likely refer others to them and possibly return as a customer in the future.
The Take Away
The basic lesson is this: if you have representatives who speak to your customers about ending business with you, train them well. A simple "we appreciated the opportunity to serve you over the last several years," or "we're sorry we won't be able to continue serving you," would have been the least they might do to express some appreciation for my years of business.
My advice is to develop a connection by engaging your customer. The extra few minutes it would have taken one of the two representatives probably would have resulted in future business. Plus, think of all the valuable information they missed out on by not asking why I was leaving! If you don't feel comfortable having your representatives ask your customers why they're leaving, then make it a point to have someone you do call back and ask.
Everyone loses a customer here and there. Use it as another opportunity to make your customers feel appreciated and gain valuable information. Never let a customer get the sense that their departure is so routine for your business that you don't care when they leave you.
For more ways to improve customer service:
Dexcomm's eBooks on Telephone Techniques
- How to Improve Your Office's Communication Through Better Messaging
- Anger Management: How to Prevent or Process an Angry Caller
Dexcomm's @sk the Expert Customer Service blog
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