Sad and Happy Goodbyes

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Nobody likes goodbyes, right? Well sometimes we like them. I’ve had a couple recently in my life as a customer — one that I’ve fantasized about for a while and another that hit me by surprise and left me both happy and sad at the same time. Let me explain.

Happy Goodbye – Bye Bye Cable Company

I recently canceled my service with the cable company. Given that I was only using them for basic internet service, I opted for a local wireless provider and so far the quality of service is fantastic. For those of you who have read 100% of my tweets for the last 3 years (I know that’s exactly zero people) and this blog post, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I wasn’t terribly happy with the cable company.

For the most part the service wasn’t bad and the customer service folks were friendly and helpful, but there were a sprinkling of negative issues in my time with them. The moment I found a better deal I was poised to move on.

The first issue occurred when they didn’t tell me about an additional fee during the installation. I was just sort of pleasantly surprised when I got my first bill and not thrilled when they only credited part of that fee back to me because of a policy.

Next came the steady increases in my bill from around $40 per month to somewhere around $70 per month. They conveniently didn’t tell me about that during the sales process. When I inquired about improved pricing, they gladly offered a slight discount if I added cable TV to my plan which I assume would slowly ratchet my bill up closer to $100 once all of the discounts wore off.

The last issue was just the intermittent weekly loss of connectivity. They could see when my connection wasn’t working given that it would stop responding, right? And I’m sure they knew that my modem was old and probably needed to be replaced. What about reaching out proactively to make sure everything was still working properly and even sending me a new modem rather than asking me to drive to a store to get one? I realize that probably no cable company does this but one can always dream.

No this was not a sad goodbye. My hope is that the cable company, when looking at the reason I canceled, doesn’t just chalk it up to my stated reason of “don’t want the service anymore.” This was preventable and if they take the time to connect the dots, there were warning signs along the way.

Sad Goodbye – Bye Bye Melissa

I continue to be a big fan of Great Clips after observing their effective use of CRM to better remember their customer preferences. It’s a great way to fuel robust customer engagement. I ventured into my local salon last Friday evening for a haircut, sat down in Melissa’s chair, and quickly noticed the sign that said “Congratulations” along with flowers and cards. I asked her what it was for and, with a big smile, she said it was her last day.

Rewinding a bit, Melissa has cut either my hair or one of my kids’ hair at least a half a dozen times in the last year. Every time I enter the salon I’m greeted with a smile and a “Welcome to Great Clips.” And while I’m not sure she has my name memorized, she definitely calls me by name once she locates me in their CRM.

Over the last year Melissa has shared with me how she was just finishing up her bachelor’s degree and was so excited because her field of study would allow her to work with and serve elderly people. I was able to congratulate her after she graduated, and then by the perfect stroke of luck, was able to be there to say goodbye. She was leaving Great Clips after landing the job she had spent six years preparing for. How great is that?

Melissa and I aren’t BFFs and may never see each other again, but in the process of delivering and receiving great customer service we made a connection. I’m not even sure she did much more than be friendly, consistently do a great job at cutting my hair, and share just enough about her life for me to know her as a person. Needless to say, I felt compelled to give a little extra tip that evening.

Of course this is a happy goodbye but it was also a bit of a sad goodbye. The good news for Great Clips is that it’s not a goodbye at all. I’m still a customer and probably a more loyal one at that. Any company that hires people like Melissa, supports her in working toward her personal and professional goals, and then send her off in grand fashion is alright by me.

What goodbyes teach us

These two goodbye stories in many ways are polar opposites from one another. Ultimately I canceled with one company and increased in loyalty with the other. There are some lessons we can glean here.

  1. Sometimes customers are happy to leave because they’ve been aggravated at multiple stages in their customer journey. Don’t always take their stated reason for cancelling at face value but take the time understand all of the reasons why. This may require hard work. Otherwise, you run the risk of never realizing that, as in the case of the cable company, your sales process is dooming your customer relationship from the very beginning.
  2. We like to talk a lot about great customer service but there are times that customers aren’t leaving or staying because of your customer service. The customer service team at the cable company was always friendly and helpful but there was much left to be desired about the rest of the experience.
  3. When you have star performers on your team inevitably say goodbye to your organization because they took the next step in their career or followed their passion, it says a lot about your organization if you can send them off in grand fashion. It also says a lot when you support their growth and development all along the way.
  4. But hopefully many of your star performers get promoted internally and continue to benefit your organization. That’s worth celebrating too!
  5. Be sure to learn from those star performers, like Melissa, so you can hire and train other members of your team to engage customers in similar fashion. That way customers can always enjoy connecting with your staff regardless of who’s serving them. There’s probably a reason a hair stylist like Melissa gets more tips than everyone else. That shouldn’t be a mystery.

Speaking of goodbyes, I guess that’s about all I have to say about that topic. Goodbye for now!

Jeremy-Watkin-Blog-Profile
Jeremy Watkin
Director of Customer Experience
FCR

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience for FCR. He has more than 18 years of experience as a customer service, customer experience, and contact center professional.  He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Customer Service Life.  Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.  Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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