On a recent visit home, my frustration with my parent’s internet connection led me to inquire about their service.  They had just been through several weeks without service (ultimately solved by a technician “patching them into a new line” in less than 30 minutes).  They had spent hours/days on the phone and never returned the internet to its service condition until a final complaint was registered over the phone and with the State’s business complaint unit.

This is a major player in the communications world.  Named after the country.  Involved in telephones (and before that, telegraphs).  They should be able to handle requests.

Knowing the ‘rents were less than happy about customerservicethe customer service end of this company, I decided to call on their behalf.  I had already determined that the going rate for internet service was cheaper than they were paying — for speeds that were four (or ten!) times what they have.

When the very nice rep got wind of what we were trying to do, she informed me that we were “existing customers” and there were no promotions for existing customers, but we could call back in January and see what might be available.  I reminded her that this was a customer with over 35 years of loyalty (?!) and business and wondered out loud that a new customer could get a better deal!

Suddenly, she said she would “as a courtesy” change the service to a one-time, promotion that doubled the internet speed.  At the same cost.  We could call back later and find if there was something better (?).  Then I inquired about a long-distance service charge, and she informed us that was not something that was required anymore, and changed the service to something $8/month LESS, and included unlimited long distance (which they were currently paying for by the minute).  So their bill was reduced by $8/month, minus long distance charges, and their internet speed was doubled.

And a new customer can STILL do better than that.  One has to wonder why.

Every thought leader I read in the space of sales says its easier to keep and service an existing customer than to find and close a new one.  Why then would you give an existing customer the run-around, and ultimately give them information that contradicts what is on your web page, and is NOT the best deal they could get?  Why would they need to call in threatening to cut you altogether before you did something nice for them?

Imagine if we had received a call (probably should have been a decade ago, when dial-up went the way of the pay phone) announcing an automatic upgrade of service, a reduction in fees, and something nice for being a customer.  We’d blog about them, brag about them, and defend them against all comers.  Well, we’re blogging about them anyway, only the result is confounding, disappointing, and harmful to their business.

What can you do for your existing customers that gives them an incentive to WANT to continue to do business with you, not just because it’s easier to keep paying the bill?

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