What happens when your customer goes POP?

ImageYou know that moment when as a customer you go POP – when you’ve reached your P**s Off Point!

What does it mean?  It means that for whatever reason (be it cost, time overruns, loss of the creative muse, a breach of trust or confidence, being ignored, fobbed off with excuses) your customer makes a momentous decision. That now is the time to move on, to search for and find another supplier.

If things are really bad, that may well include a decision to change; even if the new supplier is not quite as good, is a bit more expensive, doesn’t exactly do the ideal job…but emotionally your client is at the stage where almost anything is better than having to continue to deal with the existing supplier.

Well – can I give you an example?

We have been using a particular suppliers accounting software and payroll for over 10 years (let’s name them as Intuit and Quickbooks).  In that time we’ve put up with;

  • new versions, which entail a bunch of work on our part to configure to do what the previous version did
  • having to re-learn how to use the stuff
  • a software purchase fee, which morphed into a vastly increased monthly charge and resulted in a huge argument with a Customer Service rep when we found that new customers were charged considerably less than we were being charged, before getting it reduced
  • and today…well today the damn payroll table wouldn’t update and Intuit Customer Service essentially tried to blackmail us into having to pay them to get the answer (‘…all software has bugs and you need to pay £50 or £10 per month for us to fix it…’)

I’m afraid I sense a pattern here – this is an organisation that relies on us finding it more difficult to move away from them and thus reluctantly accepts what seems like an unceasing effort to extract more money from us.

The Intuit Customer Service reps may be polite, but that just seems to be a mask; underneath is an organism only interested in itself and existing to feed off its unsuspecting customers.

Today was the day that we went POP. Tomorrow we start to find an alternative (any suggestions?)

And Intuit – if this is your status quo, then sooner or later you may have to face up to the reality, nasty companies eventually get found out.

And you dear reader…what would you do if your customers went POP on you?


When Customer Service goes Good…its Genuine

I know that recently I’ve been blogging about customer service that goes wrong and what its like to be at the end of it 😦

Well, for a change, I’ve had a really good experience that it is worth exploring.

It started with a crack in my car’s windshield.  Which lead to a call to my insurer – Swiftcover.  My call was handled promptly and compassionately.  The customer service rep knew what to do, asked the necessary questions, was polite and kept checking back to confirm that he had heard what I’d said and that he understood me.  Couldn’t be faulted, even down to working through a set of possible times and dates for when the Windscreen could be replaced…on site.

The only odd note, was that a couple of times I was put on hold and got the ‘hold music’ thing; which was punctuated by adverts for AA insurance…but I’m with Swiftcover!  Maybe they outsource their windscreen replacement service desk to AA?

Then today, AA AutoWindshields arrive to do their stuff.  What I really appreciated was that the technician (don’t know his name but his Staff Number is 83073) behaved in a genuine manner.  By that I mean that in addition to getting on and doing his job professionally and competently, he was also genuinely happy to answer my questions and generally seemed to want to interact with me as a real person.  Even down to a ‘thank you’ and a handshake when he had finished.

And really, what more do you want from customer service, than professionalism, competence and a genuine person dealing with you and being happy to treat you as another human being.

So congratulations to AA Windshields for allowing at least one member of your staff to behave as if he actually cares about what he does and the people he comes into contact with.

Why do some other firms make it so difficult to be human…and genuine?

Is this for real? The insurance may be good but the customer service isn’t

Elephant InsuranceMy wife has recently gone through the process of taking out car insurance – doing what we are recommended to do i.e. checking out the prices on the comparison websites and making her choice.

Which meant she changed her insurer…something millions of us do every year.  And very simple it was too.  End of story?

Not really.  Yesterday she received a letter from Elephant, her previous insurer.  The letter stated ‘your card issuer could not pay our application…’  i.e. they had tried to automatically renew the policy and hadn’t been paid.

It continued ‘…Please contact us within 7 days to give us alternative card details for us to collect the overdue payment.  Unless you provide us with alternative details your policy may be cancelled.’

She could have left it at that, but being a good citizen she phoned Elephant (on their 8p a minute 0871 number!) and then had a bizarre conversation with the customer services rep (btw these reps must just have such a sh*t job – having to enforce ridiculous company policies that just go totally against fair play and common decency…so don’t blame the rep, blame the company).

The essence of the conversation was that the rep said that we, Elephant need to charge you a cancellation fee.

You can probably imagine the response.  Ludicrous and outrageous.  A scam; were some of the words I heard.

And it is…I can quite understand and appreciate that insurers do automatic renewals if the customer does not contact them and basically that seems like a sensible policy.

I can also understand that they have rules for cancellation fees, when the policy is cancelled part way through the period.

But I cannot understand why they should expect a cancellation fee when the customer has already bought  a policy from another insurer.  And in this day and age, when the UK has a database of insured cars, why the insurer cannot check up on that database to see who the car is  insured with.

Of course, the rep eventually said that the fee would be waived…and could she return the policy documents…which would be possible if they hadn’t already been sent to the recycling centre.

My plea to insurers and other companies is; Free your staff to do what they think is right, that fits with decency and common sense and don’t force your petty rules and straight jacket processes onto them.

Its a shame that the rep couldn’t have approached this in a more accommodating manner and perhaps started from the hypothesis that the customer is probably okay, not a child to be scolded or a mine to be shafted and money extracted come whatever.