SETTING THE STAGE
The time had come to make a change in service with the cable company. My decision to switch to internet TV streaming services came with a lot of thought and research. I was a customer with DirecTV for over ten years. In recent years, their constant price increases combined with service interruptions, dropping value, and negative customer service made the decision easy. I called customer service to terminate my account.
ENTER CUSTOMER SERVICE
The customer service representative answered the line and in a robotic, static way went through the motions of verifying my account. Finally, with verification out of the way, the representative asked what she could do for me. I informed her that I would like to cancel my account. That caught her attention and the monotone sound of her voice changed suddenly to concern. She asked for me to please hold, cancellation requests required her to transfer me to a supervisor.
I was on hold for a few minutes before the supervisor answered. My patience was wearing thin. When he came onto the line he introduced himself as the regional supervisor for my service area to which I replied, “I’d like to cancel my account. Can you please help me with that?” He responded, “I’m sorry to hear that. May I ask for the reason why you want to cancel your account with us?” “I’m no longer happy with the products and services you provide.” I went on to inform him about my numerous encounters with the customer service team and the poor service received, as well as the service interruptions in my area. He said, “I apologize for the inconvenience and would like to make it up to you by offering a $400 discount on the renewal price if you stay with us.”
I asked, “How would a discount change the poor experience I’m having with DirecTV?” He couldn’t give me a specific answer to this question. But sweetened the pot and said, “I’ll give you a $200 gift card in addition to the $400 renewal discount. How does that sound?” I repeated my question about how a discount today would change my poor service experience overall.
ONE LAST TRY-THE SURPRISING EMOTIONAL OUTBURST
I stood firm and was determined to cancel the account. Suddenly, the supervisor realized I was not going to change my mind and he raised his voice. He started screaming and literally crying into the phone, “PLEASE! I’m begging you! They’re going to fire me if I can’t renew your account. I have a wife and kids to feed!”
While shaken by his behavior, I told him, I was sorry to hear his company treats their team members so badly. I also suggested their treatment might be a direct reflection of the overall poor service your customers are receiving in my area. I went on to share that my hope was he didn’t get fired, but my decision stands – I would like to cancel my account now. His emotional outburst abruptly changed, and he switched over to being professional and collected in his demeanor. “Of course, I can help you with that. Give me a moment.”
THE FOREVER END OF A RELATIONSHIP
I was amazed by this guy’s acting performance and at the same time disgusted. That was the end of my relationship with this TV provider. In that telephone conversation, the supervisor went from friendly to persuasive, angry and crying, to calm and collected. He probably thought of everything he could possibly offer to keep the customer. I was stunned at the extremes. A discount can’t overcome chronic poor service. I wonder if he still works for this company. I couldn’t deliver or try to support this lack of service.
To what lengths have you seen people go to make a sale or to keep a customer? How far would you go? Is there a financial number that would have made you stay? Do you think I made the right decision?