The Delicate Nature of Customer Retention

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Client retention is a vital portion of any successful business, but how far is too far?  Comcast Inc has suffered a barrage of negative publicity lately after one of its customer service representatives kept a customer on the phone for eight minutes while trying to (unprofessionally) salvage a relationship.  This blunder has resulted in an affirmation of what many cable users commonly feel: cable contract=chained to awful service.  (Click on the pic above to hear the call.)

While I can appreciate the rep’s attempt to retain a client, there does come a time when you simply cut ties.  Unfortunately, this employee would not let go of the topic and continued to press, almost badger the client, reaffirming why the client wanted to leave the cable giant.  Companies are struggling to retain valued clients as the costs to attract clients continue to rise, but what’s the best way to do this without becoming the highlight on blogs and news shows?  

1. Listen to your client.  There are times when a client might desire to drop you for the wrong or even uneducated reason.  The message will always be in their story.  Client facing employees are too quick to diagnose a problem when the real problem could surface by simply allowing the client to fully express their discontent.  Sometimes, there are ways to enhance the client experience by changing the product or service, but you will not know this by simply listening to the first couple of sentences and shooting from the hip.  You need to be genuine in your quest to retain them and the first step is to listen actively. 

2. Know when to hold ’em and when to walk away.  As much disdain as I have for Kenny Rogers’ music, the lyrics do apply here.  In my experience, there is often a gut knowledge in client situations that tells me whether the relationship is salvageable or if the right thing to do is to let them walk.  If the situation is handled properly, the chances for a return client increases.  Don’t affirm their thoughts or your “poor service” or “poor product” by allowing their last visit with you be a disaster that they tell to their 800 closest friends on Facebook. 

3. Empower your team. Allow your team members that deal with clients own the experience.  Companies like Zappos have encouraged their customer service representatives to own the experience and have enjoyed the fruits of significant growth and wonderful reputation gains.  If you train your team and allow them to become engaged in the company’s vision of a great client experience, you’ll be amazed at the creative tactics they can bring to retain those valuable relationships.  On the flip-side, if one of your team members continues to bomb in this area, let that employee walk away.  (Sorry, now I can’t get the song out of my head!)

Customer retention is a valuable strategy if handled correctly.  These are just three quick tips to enhance the “break up” experience to either retain the client, or keep the door open for their return! 

About the Writer:

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I have a passion for driving results and have since I started my career in banking.  This blog is about that passion as well as the frustration I endures from those who do not seek results or slow down the process.

I have a degree in Marketing and a Masters in Management with an emphasis in Project Consulting.  Over my career, I’ve worked in numerous positions including sales, sales management, consulting, HR and recruiting.  I currently work as a head-hunter and project consultant, while trying to stay abreast of all of the changes in today’s workforce.

For a professional resume, click here.

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