CX professionals help businesses to capture strategic opportunities for serving customers better by creating end-to-end journey maps. These maps can vary greatly, but traditionally, they begin when a prospective customer becomes aware of a company. The subsequent phases represent the progression or conversion of the business relationship—deciding on a product, buying it, getting service for it, renewing a subscription, and so on. Journey maps typically culminate in a final phase that is some type of resolution—for example, the sale of a car or the return or repair of a product.
But does the journey really end there? What happens when a long-time customer makes a decision to leave your company for a competitor? What do you do? How do you treat a customer who is no longer your customer? What happens after you’ve walked that proverbial mile with customers—walking in their shoes? I think such circumstances remain under-served parts of the customer journey. An experience I recently had when switching mobile services really brought this to the forefront for me.
“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”
This past December, I had to make a decision. After twelve years of loyal patronage to Verizon Wireless, it was time to move on. It’s important that you know from the outset that this wasn’t something I wanted to do. Not at all. I hate doing this kind of stuff. I didn’t want to spend hours in a wireless store, having a guy named Lenny transfer my contacts to my new phone. (“It should take like 45 minutes, but there are a lot of folks here so….”)
I liked Verizon Wireless. The service was good, everything worked, and the cost was on par with that of other services. All was right with my wireless service. But with three kids—only one of which had a phone at the time—my wife and I decided that it was time to add phones for the other two. We would make their phones part of their Christmas present. So I went to my local Verizon Wireless store to get a sense of what it would cost to add them. Suffice it to say that it was more than I had envisioned. Sure, I was extending our account from three to five lines, but I’d heard that Verizon was competing with new shared data plans, so I figured that, with some type of family plan, I’d benefit from the economies of scale.
I wasn’t looking elsewhere. Up until this time, I had resisted the years of commercials from AT&T, Sprint, and others that had tried in vain to convince me that it was worth switching. While every few years, I’d get a price on switching, the effort was never really worth it. When I did the real math, the switching costs were too de minimus to merit consideration. But when talking with a friend of mine who had recently switched his whole family to Sprint, he told me he was really pleased and suggested that I take a look. My previous carrier had been Sprint, and we had parted amicably with no headaches, so why not see?
Of course, with this weighing on my brain, I suddenly started actually paying attention to the onslaught of commercials. Sprint’s showed people using chainsaws and swords to cut their phone bills in half. So I went to a local Sprint store to find out what the price would be. Suffice it to say that the difference was—conservatively, on paper—between $800 and $1000 a year, depending on a few options. That wasn’t chump change.
Companies like Verizon do have retention specialists on hand, as I know from my Verizon FiOS service. They continue to keep their promotional pricing close enough to keep competitors at bay. Comcast pushes seriously good pricing to win my business. I was hoping Verizon Wireless might also be able to find a way to offer something with a close enough price to make it worth staying.
So I went back to the Verizon Wireless store and spent a lot of time with the sales rep—a nice guy I had worked with on previous visits. He did his best to see what he could do. After looking into a few options, he regretfully admitted that he couldn’t get me anywhere near the numbers I was getting from Sprint. In a very cool move that probably wouldn’t make Verizon too happy, he even confessed that I’d be crazy not to switch. He noted that I’d have to pay over $950 in contract cancellation fees, but I’d wind up getting all of that back with Sprint incentives, so it was a wash anyway. I appreciated his honesty. It was funny because we both acknowledged that it felt like we were breaking up after a long relationship. He even offered to print out a page that would help me to expedite processing cancellation rebates at Sprint. Awwwww… Bro hugs and high fives!
Fast forward a month or so and my final Verizon bill came in. That’s when the hugs and high fives ended.