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Sometimes It’s Better To Cut Your Losses

I am sure many of you have heard about the recent customer service debacle involving Comcast over the past week.

In case you aren’t familiar with what happened, a customer called into their service center attempting to cancel his service after almost a decade. He was transferred to a customer retention department and, unfortunately, was connected with a person who did the exact opposite. The customer’s patience during this call is amazing. The Comcast representative hounds him for almost 18 minutes (only 8 of which were recorded) repeatedly asking the same questions in his efforts to either keep the customer or understand why the customer was leaving. The customer eventually succeeded in getting his services cancelled, while the Comcast employee succeeded in doing more harm to his company than good. You see, this customer recorded the conversation and posted it online. Since July 14, over 5 million people have listened to this recording. Countless articles have also been written during that time period.

 

I’m fairly certain that you’ve all come across a dissatisfied customer or two.

Every so often, we all meet a customer (or client) that is not going to be happy, no matter what we do to handle the situation. I understand that the Comcast representative was simply doing his job. He was persistent and obviously passionate about his company. My impression was that he literally could not understand why this customer would want to leave. He wanted that explained to him and the customer wasn’t having it. He politely declined to answer that question multiple times.

 

The customer’s perspective is quite the opposite.

He and his wife had decided to switch to a different provider for reasons he chooses not to disclose. He simply called in to cancel their service. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like they had incredibly bad service during the 10 years they were with Comcast. At one point, the call center rep even asked him what he would do when he wasn’t happy with his new provider. To which the customer replied that he would call them back and restart their service.

 

Through the actions of this call center rep, and a customer with a recorder at hand, over 5 million people have now listened to this call.

While it’s hard to believe that this is a typical experience, it only takes one extraordinary experience to make a huge difference. If that experience is good, wonderful things happen. If that experience is poor, there is always the chance that our always-connected world makes your business a celebrity – but not in the way you want to be known.

 

Great companies realize that great experiences can create more business for them.

They also know when it’s time to say goodbye to a customer who wants to leave. Providing a great customer experience is absolutely important to customer retention and loyalty. Smart business people also realize that providing a great customer experience for someone who doesn’t want to do business with you anymore can be just as important. That last impression can be vital.

 

How you say goodbye is just as important as how you say hello. 

Views: 261

Tags: PR, comcast, customer, experience, loyalty, media, public relations, retention, service, social, More…viral

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Comment by Tom Gorham on July 24, 2014 at 5:59pm

Ralph Paglia, you said, "One of the most productive outcomes of delivering a global voice to everyone with Internet access is that now there are consequences when a dealership employee mistreats a customer... And those consequences have far greater reach and ramifications than ever before."  Thank you for that!

Customers put bread on our table.  They should be our best friends! The W.C. Fields attitude that there are suckers born every minute no longer applies unless you are a con artist ready to disappear at the end of a job.

Comment by Larry Vestal on July 24, 2014 at 9:08am

It seems more than ever, today's businesses are openly exposed.  Social media, business directories, citation sites are full of reviews of local businesses.  I like Randall Welsh's Dealer in Central California philosophy, the owner being accessible.  What you do or don't do, someone is going to hear about it.  Not everyone is going to like you or your product and it can be difficult to know when to let go or try and hold on.  I think most people will be reasonable if they believe you care about them.  If they aren't reasonable you can always refer them, in a helpful way of course, to your competition.

Comment by Randall Welsh on July 24, 2014 at 8:51am

I love this article. I also want to thank the Comcast rep, for shining a light on something so very important. Call it what you want, but this guy was doing exactly what he was trained and paid to do. Every Auto Dealer should take note. Not only from the customers perspective, but every perspective. I have a Dealer in central California, I have done business with over the years. He answers every call, asks his operator to NOT screen any calls. He feels, he can always say no to sales calls and wants to make sure every customer can contact him for any reason. So, Dealers, stop training your people to do the same as the Comcast guy. Ask them to treat every caller, the way they want to be treated and practice what you preach.  

Comment by Ralph Paglia on July 24, 2014 at 8:33am

For a split second, I thought you used a pic of JD Rucker in your article... At any rate, thank you for an article that should serve as a wake up call to dealers and their management team. I grew up in the car business during a time when we DEFINITELY treated customers far worse than they treated us, when the moment or circumstances drove our "Dealer Wrath" instead of "Customer Service". One of the most productive outcomes of delivering a global voice to everyone with Internet access is that now there are consequences when a dealership employee mistreats a customer... And those consequences have far greater reach and ramifications than ever before.

Now, I am not saying we need to walk on egg shells, but rather that we should be treating people the way we ourselves would like to be treated. I have listened to the painful Comcast rep call referred to in this article several times and can assure you that if that guy would have asked himself, "If this were my mother, father, brother or sister calling in to cancel, how would I want them treated?"... The outcome would have most likely been different, and Comcast would not have sustained PR damages and lost business now estimated in the millions of dollars and climbing.

To this day, when I am working with my dealer clients and their management teams, or directly with automotive consumers and car buyers, I frequently ask myself:

"Am I acting in a manner consistent with how I would want my family members treated if they were trying to buy a car here?" 

That's it... Not really rocket science,,, We are in a people business and will only be successful if we learn how to treat people well while providing the goods and services we sell.

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