The past weeks I had a terrible slow or even a not working ADSL-connection. Several calls to the customer service of Vodafone and a visit of an engineer didn’t solve my problem in any way. Somehow the 5 km distance from my home to the local adsl-station was the problem, although that distance never changed in the 3 years I had this ADSL-connection. So I decided to switch to another internetprovider and cancelled my ADSL subscription at Vodafone. That experience resulted in a totally different perception of Vodafone.
For the cancellation I called the regular free customer service telephone number. After a couple of minutes a call agent picked up the phone. I explained my situation and asked for the cancellation of my adsl-subscription. After hearing that, his tone of voice changed immediately and he said I had to call a different phone number for this.
Irritating a customer for 0,45 eurocent.
Well, okay that can happen. The new phone number I received was a paid number (€0,45 per call). I called it right away and to my surprise the call was answered by exact the same agent. Even he was a bit ashamed for this although he had followed the Vodafone-procedure.
So the only reason to get me on another line was the €0,45. I was already disappointed in the quality of the ADSL-service and now I was further annoyed for this stupid procedure just for €0,45. It’s a short term vision; At this moment Vodafone ADSL doesn’t fit my needs, but that might be different in the near future. Perhaps I move to a different place next to a local ADSL-center, where I will compare the internetproviders again. Based on my experience Vodafone will start with -1 and anyone asking me “Should I take ADSL of Vodafone” will hear my experience.
Second, if Vodafone was really customer centric they would have noticed that I still have a mobile phone subscription. So although I cancel my ADSL subscription, I’m still a Vodafone customer and this is probably not the best way to deliver service to your customers.
When I informed them about my terrible slow ADSL-connection, they even had the option to really show customer focus by temporarily enabling the option for tethering on my iPhone with the existing Vodafone mobile subscription. During the time it would take to solve the connection problem, I would still be able to have internet on my Macbook by the tethering feature. But they didn’t offer this at all. Probably Mobile and ADSL are two completely different departments with their own single view on me as a customer and not a company view.
Leave the doors open!
That all reminds me of a discussion I had in the nineties, the early days of the internet. Someone had setup a script that showed all external links in an iframe with a huge clickable banner on top with “Back to <companyname>” on it. His opinion was to keep the visitor as long as possible on his domain by raising barriers.
That was definitely not my opinion; If you organize a party make it a pleasure to be there, offer excellent entertainment, but never close any doors to keep the visitors inside. The party itself has to be so good that no one even thinks about leaving. Go for the hard way by delivering excellent entertainment, not the easy way and just close the doors.
To be clear, my Vodafone experience is just an example and it’s just the experience of one customer. But this could happen in any other company if they only focus on new and existing customers.
Don’t forget that even a leaving customer can influence your brand reputation, so treat them well. And a customer who left, might get back in the future if you change your price or products, unless the last feeling he had with your company was a bad feeling.
The last impression is as important as the first impression.