Don’t Fight Your customers on the Way Out – Part 2


Empowering Your Customers by Asking the Right Question!

Judy and her team continued to work with the agents to help determine the cause of the customers’ rejection. Agents quickly had the answer (as they often do) when they told her that the customers were irritated at being asked why they wanted to cancel. Some customers even said, “It’s none of your business, just cancel.” It is a standard opening question in most call centers, and yet, it undoubtedly puts the customer on the defensive. “Why do you want to close your account?” or “What didn’t you like about the product?” may seem like decent opening questions but really causes the consumer to ‘put up their dukes.’ It was clear that the company had asked the wrong question. But how do we fix it? How do we find out why the customer wants to cancel without asking, “Why”?

The answer is to simply ask them about what caused their consideration, their choice, or what made them choose to opt out. We recommend an opening question like “May I ask what led you to your decision today?” This question gives serious importance to the customer’s right to choose. It empowers the consumer and opens a dialogue that will often reveal clues on the underlying reason for the cancellation. The approach does not just throw money or an offer at the customer. Instead, it acknowledges their choice to choose us.

Judy recently had a wonderful opportunity to work with a company that sold a continuity plan for cosmetics. After listening to a few calls, Judy got the sense that the customers felt that they had been tricked into buying some slick membership plan. It was strange; the cosmetics were AAA quality and sold at a very affordable price. So, why were there so many cancellations? After digging into the challenge, Judy realized that the real reason for the cancellations was too much product. No one could actually use all the wonderful lotions and creams in one month, so the customer was overwhelmed. Judy in conjunction with the call center management set out to re-word their scripting. Representatives were taught to simply ask, “What caused you to make that decision?” Customers responded well and were eager to tell the representatives that they had too much product. As a result reps started moving the customers to a smaller plan (instead of cancelling) and ultimately saved the company millions of dollars. Even if the customer still said, “No thanks,” they went away from the interaction saying, “Someday we will come back, we really love the product.” What a win…the company won, the customer won, as did the representative who no longer had to ‘fight the customer.’

Leaving a lasting impression…

As more and more industries gravitate to a centralized call center strategy, the need for Customer Care to serve as a differentiator is growing. We can continue to operate in a ‘business as usual’ manner or we can surprise our customers with a new approach. An approach that empowers our customer, one that lets them decide. Yes, we can give them options, give them all the features and benefits, try to find a plan or product that works for them, but, ultimately, if they want to go, let’s wish them all the best and not fight them on the way out.

At the end of the day, retention is not about the $24.99 product, or the 1-year membership that we are trying to protect, it’s about how the customer thinks about us as an organization as they are walking away. Let’s not deliver a knockout punch when a customer calls to cancel. Let’s hope we can all be saved by the bell. When that phone rings, let’s give our customers a chance to be the winners and unlike a boxing match, no one gets counted out, everybody wins!

My hope for every customer that touches my call center is that they walk away saying, “Well, their service was not for me, but when I called to cancel, they sure treated me well.”

What do your customers say when they are walking away?

Don’t Fight Your customers on the Way Out – Part 1


Round 1 – Ready to Fight?

Calling to cancel your membership or return a product? Put your boxing gloves on, it’s time to fight. It can be stressful these days when calling an 800-number to end your subscription or to return a product. As a call center savvy consumer, I know the representative/retention specialist on the other end of the phone is about to do his or her best to convince me to keep the service or product. Here comes the script, here come the offers, and that typical bad question, “Why do you want to cancel your service?” Ultimately, it is my decision, and yet, I am about to face someone over the phone who will attempt to talk me out of it.

Having built and trained world-class call centers over the years, and as customers, Judy and I have both encountered countless examples of how companies actually fight their customers as they are trying to close or cancel an account or return a product. Far too often scripts are written that unintentionally make our customer feel ‘wrong and stupid’, putting them on the defensive and more eager than ever to cancel. It is a challenging task to train your retention representatives to think in a new way, one that makes customers ‘right and smart.’

When did it become wrong for customers to change their minds? When did it become a fight with the consumer when they simply want to say, “No thanks”? Our representatives are really between a rock and a hard place. On the surface, it appears that there are two conflicting goals, two masters to serve; retain as many customers (and money) as possible, while helping customers cancel their account. Huh? How do I do both? Which one is more important?

Our answer is simple, but not always easy to understand or implement. We first need to recognize that this phone call, this interaction is most likely the last time that particular customer will talk to your organization. The choice is ours, do we make the customer’s last experience with our company standout as a struggle or do we help them along their way? What we need to do is make the customer feel right about calling in, right to choose our company in the first place, and, if we can’t find what caused their decision to cancel, say goodbye with a great spirit of caring.

It’s All About The Money….or is it?

Retention programs are often launched with a flawed goal at the center of their charter and the wrong plan for retaining customers. The ‘show me the money’ approach, or one that thinks we can merely throw money at the customer, does not work. The Beatles said it best, “Money can’t buy me love,” and this is true in the call center as well. Call center leaders often wonder why their retention programs are not hitting their ‘save’ goals or why they are not protecting enough revenue for the company. Have we ever considered that maybe the reason is something that money could not fix?

Several years ago, Judy trained a large credit card company in retention. Customers were calling in large numbers to cancel their cards and the retention plan had representatives immediately offering $20 incentives and when that didn’t work they offered $50 or NO annual fee. Management was dumfounded when customers continued to say, “No thanks.” Company executives could not understand the problem and spent countless hours trying to understand why customers were refusing their offer. What was wrong?

Book Writing Rules for Coaching Book by Judy McKee and Expert Coaches Worldwide

CoacJudy Cartoonhes and Trainers Write a BOOK!

We are all going to write a book about training and coaching in the Call/Contact Center.  I will set up a rules page with timelines and goals. Write to me at my business e-mail if you wish to submit a page.  Look up my profile and you will find my contact information.  I am in the phone business.  We will, for the time being, call it Coaching and Training 101.  Every page will have a different idea and the book will be segmented into several parts.  Training Ideas, Coaching Ideas, Forms, and Mental Makeovers for Contact Center Trainers and Coaches.  What fun we will have.

Send me your information so I can e-mail you the rules for the Book on Coaching.  I have 23 people so far who wish to contribute.  I think we need about 100 people.  (Not that I can’t fill in the other pages.)  If we don’t get 100, we will do it with the people we have.  I need a place to e-mail you updates and rules. Let me know your contact; mine is Judy McKee  760-738-8200  judym@mckeeconsultingllc.com

  1. Please Read the Book NOTES Rules
  2. You may submit more than one idea…read the instructions.
  3. 2016 Book Notes LinkedIn Coaches

I am inspired by all of you.  Please send me your personal e-mail links so I can write to you.

  1. When you send in what you write, follow instructions so I don’t have a lot of work to do.
  2. Be sure you edit for grammar as well as content.
  • The Purpose is to Support Coaches and Trainers Everywhere
  • Goals and Objectives: Create through Training and Coaching a “situational course that will make your clients and customers more profitable.”
  • Intended result: Obtain JOBS for all of you in your various countries.   Start with the end in mind.  SET SMART goals if you wish.
    • Sincere
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Realistic
    • Timely

I will share later what my goals are for this Book.  WE are going to do this!  You are going to be a part of it.  You can say you are an AUTHOR because you will be.  The Book will be on AMAZON and we can talk about advertising it later.

Sincerely

Judy