Customer Service Is Bad Because You Already Said Yes

In this week’s New Yorker, James Surowiecki takes a brief look at customer service in America these days, and offers up some theories to explain why it sucks. Most of it is stuff you’ve probably already seen: it’s a cost center and therefore an attractive target when cutting expenses; bargain pricing makes it impossible; current attempts to make it more “efficient” just make it worse. But the real problem, he says, is that maybe companies are too concerned with the customers they don’t have.

The real problem may be that companies have a roving eye: they’re always more interested in the customers they don’t have. So they pour money into sales and marketing to lure new customers while giving their existing ones short shrift, in an effort to minimize costs and maximize revenue. The consultant Lior Arussy calls this the “efficient relationship paradox”: it’s only once you’ve actually become a customer that companies put efficiency ahead of attention, with the result that a company’s current customers are often the ones who experience its worst service. Economically, this makes little sense; it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to hold on to an old one, and, these days, annoyed customers are quick to take their business elsewhere. But, because most companies are set up to focus on the first sale rather than on all the ones that might follow, they end up devoting all their energies to courting us, promising wonderful products and excellent service.

“Are You Being Served?” [The New Yorker]

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  1. RandomHookup says:

    Cost of new customer acquisition should always be a metric that marketing is looking at. The same can be said of the cost of certain types of customers…do you really want to keep them or provide them anything special as a part of their service.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      If only. Even in the employment side of business, companies rarely factor in the cost of firing an employee and hiring a new one later. So in some situations letting go a lot of people because of business slowness and then hiring them all again when business picks up costs them a lot more money than letting go a small percentage, or reducing hours, or doing job training instead of letting them go (like Toyota did).

      Then on the grand scale, we have the Great Recession, where when all companies follow this same misguided principle, we have massive unemployment which cripples the very companies just trying to save a little money.

      • SonarTech52 says:

        Just an FYI, if you’re talking about Toyota Call centers…

        Most of Toyotas call centers are outsourced. My wife used to work for one of these companies.. And when the stuff hit the fan and they were getting less calls and needed to cut costs.. They found a way to drop one of the call centers all together..

        The very few actual Toyota Call Center employees do get paid well, and probably got training instead of laid off, but the majority are all outsourced, and they felt the sting.

  2. rpm773 says:

    it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to hold on to an old one, and, these days, annoyed customers are quick to take their business elsewhere.

    Enter the long-term contract and ETF. Plus, depending on the service in question, vendors are banking on the fact that it can be a hassle for the consumer to leave.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Inertia may be the most powerful force known to man.

    • KillerBee says:

      Bingo. Especially when they charge you a couple hundred dollars to leave. Then its a winning proposition for the vendor whether you stay or leave, further incentive for their apathy.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        But the GOP keeps telling me that monopolies are good, and that companies should be able to do business in whatever way they choose!

    • Etoiles says:

      And the worst vendors *cough Comcast cough* are banking on being a monopoly in the area.

    • webweazel says:

      Exactly. I remember when, not that long ago, actually, when Cable and Satellite did NOT have any contracts whatsoever. Cell phones were ONE year contracts.
      I’ll buy my own damn equipment, and I absolutely refuse to have any type of contracts with any of these companies anymore. This way, when they screw up and piss me off, they’re GONESKI.

  3. Mighty914 says:

    I’d imagine it depends on the industry, because as he points out himself, it makes more fiscal sense for companies to focus on retention, rather than gaining new clients.

    For example, retail stores generally have worse customer service than service industries and restaurants, because the latter two need the repeat business. Think about it, how many times does one really make a big purchase at a store like Best Buy? If you’re like I am, you maybe buy the one big TV, but that happens once every few years. On the other hand, my girlfriend and I usually go back to our favorite restaurant (at $60 a pop or so) at least once a month, often more.

    • Murph1908 says:

      But Best Buy doesn’t make much on that TV. They make their money on the little stuff you buy. If you have a bad experience with your TV or freezer purchase, you won’t go back for batteries, CD, DVDs, car chargers, HDMI cables, and all the other accessories with 50%+ markups.

      And with the only reason to go there to get these items is to have it now (Amazon, NewEgg, and other online stores can provide it at a lower cost if you are willing to wait a few days), or for ease of returning or issue resolution, customer service should be something the FOCUS on.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I honestly think there are enough people in and out of retail stores at least in my area that its to the point where they don’t even have to provide any type of service if they are a big name company. Walmart and Target are going to have customers no matter what. Now if your company is a small one store local company then you have to provide service, or else your customers will go right to the big stores and you will lose big time. People may not be buying a big TV every year at BB, but they are buying video games, iPods, headphones, batteries, computer accessories, chargers, etc. The little things that add up.

  4. Straspey says:

    OR … To put in a different perspective…

    “The real problem may be that men have a roving eye: they’re always more interested in the women they don’t have. So they pour money into sales and marketing to lure new women while giving their existing ones short shrift, in an effort to minimize costs and maximize gain.

    This is basic principle understood by any first-year college student of business marketing, is known as the “efficient hook-up paradox”: it’s only once you’ve actually become involved with a guy that he puts efficiency ahead of attention, with the result that his current girlfriend(s) are often the ones who experience his worst treatment.

    Economically, this makes little sense; it’s more expensive to pursue a new girlfriend, than to hold on to an old one, and, these days, annoyed women are quick to take their business elsewhere.

    But, because most guys are set up to focus on the first date rather than on all the ones that might follow, they end up devoting all their energies to courting, promising wonderful products and excellent service.”

    Hmmm….

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I see what you did there…

    • YOXIM says:

      It’s actually less expensive to acquire a new girl than it is to hold on to an old one. Think about it; one date versus three or four. Plus, a brand new girlfriend isn’t expecting a ring. Once you’ve been with a chick for a while, you never know. Even if she doesn’t want a ring, there is Valentine’s Day, then there’s the birthday, Christmas, anniversary, you name it.

      It makes MUCH more economic sense to get a new girl instead of keeping the old one happy. Now if only I had an old girlfriend to keep or a new one to court, I’d be set haha.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        That kind of depends. With the new girls, you have to take them out all the time, buy drinks/dinner/flowers. With an “old” girl, you get into a sad rut, and she will be fine with TV at home, PBR, McDs and no flowers. Plus, she will often have a job, and will support your lazy ass in the style to which you have become accustomed.

      • Does not play well with others says:

        Actually I’ve always said it makes far more economical sense in this situation to rent than it does to buy.

  5. vastrightwing says:

    Dead on! Also, in the case of certain industries, they have a product/service you are willing to buy in spite of them offering horrible service. For example, any cable company, airlines, banks, cell phone service and large box stores, to name a few. Basically they have you and you have no where to run. So yea, there’s no incentive for them to do anymore than necessary. I’ve decided to opt out of cable and when I run into problems with services I must use, I simply call as many different CSRs as I can until I find the one who fixes my problem. It stinks, but this is what it requires.

  6. suez says:

    Hasn’t it ever occured to these companies that “word of mouth” does more for their PR than all those inane commericals? Treat me well and I’ll recommend your company to all my friends–but treat me poorly and not only will I take my business elsewhere, but I’ll tell EVERYBODY, not just my friends, how badly you suck.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Yes, except when there’s no one else to go to, it doesn’t matter. Also, business has figured out that once they get you onboard, you won’t leave easily. Plus they often have ways to lock you in with contracts. Strike three!

    • FatLynn says:

      I tell people all the time about 1-800-CONTACTS having the best service ever. Long story short, they over-nighted me something that probably cost them about $6 in shipping to correct my own error. I’m sure they’ve since made more than $6 off of my friends.

  7. MissMostlyMittens says:

    My past job it was my responsibility to assist representatives with complicated account, billing or technical issues or to take escalated calls as a “supervisor”. Let me tell you Cable companies don’t give a f**k about their customers. The stuff I witnessed and the way customers were treated just so the reps could meet their metrics and make the Directors call center stats look good on paper were ridiculous. Now I rarely ever call customer service, I use chat (because I can get a copy of the interaction or email). If you can use this method I would advise it these are usually the much better reps that also provide higher tech support like broadband.

    • Bativac says:

      You are absolutely dead-on!!! Especially “…so the reps could meet their metrics and make the Directors call center stats look good on paper!” Actual QUALITY be damned, all that matters is call times, number of calls taken, percentage of adherance to posted schedule…

      Nowhere in there do they mention “actual help you gave to another human.”

  8. chocolate1234 says:

    This. I just quit my banking job, and one of my biggest frustrations in the year before I quit was this exact fact. Our upper management focused all of their attention, and spent all of their money on acquiring new customers, and absolutely gave existing customers the shaft. Our customer service line was absolutely terrible, and they limited what we at the branch could actually do to help customers. I could never understand why that seemed to be their business model because it’s so much more expensive to open new accounts than it is to just maintain old ones.

    • econobiker says:

      Current accounts don’t pay bonuses like new accounts do. I wish companies would relate customer retention to the sales people’s bonuses.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Well, you can’t really measure retention, you can only measure new accounts. Managers don’t want to hear about anything that you can’t turn into a number on a chart.

  9. Bativac says:

    I am a call center employee. We were once professionals, but upper management changes (older managers retiring, younger folks filling the ranks) resulted in us turning into a call center environment.

    We are told it is more efficient, though expenses have tripled and service times have quadrupled. But new “call center” hires can be brought on at half my salary, meaning that in a few years, once us “old pros” (I’m only in my early 30s!) either retire or quit, the cheap unskilled workforce will pay for itself.

    This is corporate thinking. Replace highly paid efficient employees with inefficient but cheap unskilled labor. Rely on the presumed laziness of your customers to keep dumping dollars into your business.

    I hate my job and sometimes I hate myself for keeping it. But until I can find something better…

    • Ladybird says:

      PREACH!

      Nothing and I mean NOTHING can get me to go back to a call center. It was a demoralizing experience and not just because of the customers. It was management nickel and diming long time customers. It was having to tell customers that after 10 years of loyal service I couldn’t waive a shipping fee because it was “against policy”. Or hounding me about metrics because I wanted to make sure the customer could actually use the phone before ending the call.

      Now I need a drink. :P

      • Bativac says:

        Yeah, it IS demoralizing.

        I don’t think people who call into call centers understand the frustrations. Especially as a former professional – yeah, I still make my pro-level salary, but now I have scheduled breaks. I cannot leave my desk to (for example) get some coffee or, god forbid, use the bathroom unless I’m on a scheduled break. Lunch breaks are also scheduled and are too short to go off-site so you’re stuck at your desk. You’re scheduled against your team-mates so they can’t join you for lunch to gripe.

        Not to mention – performance reviews were once based on quality of file handling and customer satisfaction surveys (actual phone calls to customers from management). Now? It’s all based on call times, and how closely you adhere to your scheduled breaks.

        It’s extremely frustrating. Especially considering the only other places in town that are hiring are other call centers… and at half the salary I’m making.

        • MissMostlyMittens says:

          I hired on when cable was first hemorrhaging customers in my area to Satellite. I took that job because as long as you were technical they really gave you a long leash to help the customer and they told me their priority was to provide “World Class Service”. Back than they backed that up by by basing 60% of you performance (metrics) on monitoring. So that if you say, took a long time to resolve an ongoing, unresolved issue or complicated issue (which were most of the issues, even than) yeah your talk time was long but the customer was happy. It was never ideal, monitoring could still be subjective but with monitoring guidelines were based on things like, did you resolve the customers issues, were you polite etc. it was a hell of a different culture. It’s true too, that over the years the pay and new training was much decreased and they started recruiting at high schools. They did this in spit the job becoming even more technical with digital phone thrown in to the mix. During the last couple of years when even the “escalation desk” had ridiculous metrics I felt like every call I had to make a decision, am I going to put my job on the line and help the customer or try to use this call to improve one of my metrics and keep my job. I make a lot less now but my hair has grown back (seriously, not kidding) and I would never ever ever go back to that environment again. You can suck it cable! Okay sorry for the diatribe :)

      • Conformist138 says:

        Did you ever get the nightmares? I quit my last call center job when the nightmares wouldn’t stop. I would dream all night about taking call after call and never getting anything done. Then I’d wake up and have to go do it for real with the palpable threat of unemployment in the air. Rather than letting an employee relax and feel good about their job, managers would just shove papers in our faces showing how we transferred 20% of calls and the limit is 17%, so no bonus for a month. And if the metric doesn’t get better by the end of the week, you’re fired. So, take a phone system that routinely cannot route calls properly, a computer system that won’t let me *do* anything, and requirements that I read a script and get customers off the phone within 4:30… I never wanted to go to work, I hated everyone, I still tried to help customers but I was also quick to dismiss them because I just didn’t have the time to care anymore.

        For 3 years now, I’ve been in hiding in a solo security job in the middle of the night. Seriously, I worked with the public for every job since high school, but call centers drove me into seclusion. I feel panicked whenever I consider going to a job with any kind of measured performance because I assume the game will be rigged worse than a slot machine.

    • CWG85338 says:

      Well said. This is why customer service is declining – management’s insistence that cutting labor costs with cheap, unskilled employees will result in lower costs. I applaud you for trying to maintain your professionalism among the idiots to whom you must answer. Maybe some pop culture business guru will write a book about having great customer service, and the inherent VALUE it creates. Then the educated (but ignorant) execs will be all over it. As long as it’s someone ELSE rocking the boat, they will follow.

      • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

        Hmm, Googling “customer service” and books|seminars|success|videos all turn up loads of results. Having recently accepted a supervisor position at my company, I got to watch several of these myself recently.

        Perhaps the problem isn’t the customer service reps or sales clerks on the front lines, but rather the bean counters who tie their hands.

        “Why on earth should we receive customer service training? Our sole purpose is to maximize profits for the shareholders after all, and we do that by reducing costs, and increasing revenues, not through some touchy, feely nonsense”

      • Outrun1986 says:

        We all know what happened to Circuit City, who employed this same method, oh lets fire all our employees then hire them back, at a much lower payrate.

        I am running into much of the same situation here, the only places that are hiring here are call centers, or other businesses hiring in the call center department. However if you don’t do everything exactly as layed out, if you don’t say this or that on the phone and you get written up so many times or even once then you are fired. Most people cannot meet the requirements so they are either forced to quit or fired. It also seems like if you know someone high up who works there or if the business really likes you, then you might be able to get around this, because the company likes you or you are the son or daughter of someone working in higher management. I would imagine the turnaround is so high at these places that its costing them more to hire new employees (since most people leave shortly after training is finished) than it would be just to train and keep the good workers.

        Customers also do not want to hear the scripts and everything a company has to say if it is completely irrelevant to a customer’s problem. Customers are becoming sick of it, and are making it known to the companies. We will not buy the extended warranty, we will not fall for the upsell!

    • Does not play well with others says:

      I firmly believe this is the underlying problem in corporate America today and will be our undoing. The important decisions are being left up to accounts who only understand something if it shows up as a number on the ledger. I’ve seen it too many times where a veteran employee is laid off to be replaced by two fresh college grads. Uhm there’s a reason why the experienced employee made so much money. BECAUSE HE WAS WORTH IT! Then when the project he was working comes to a screeching halt the managers are left scratching their heads clueless.

  10. KillerBee says:

    Interesting. The linked article is dated September 6, 2010.

    I know it’s common for magazines to be dated ahead of the actual publish date, but this is the interwebz. We’re not supposed to put up with this kind of shenanigans.

    • econobiker says:

      I guess they dated it to the paper print edition of the magazine.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Even when you have an online version of a dead tree media article, it’s normal to find the screwy dates like this. Especially when said dead tree media is a monthly publication.

    • superfluousK says:

      Perhaps you should call the local constabulary and inform them that Mr Surowiecki has been driving recklessly in his DeLorean.

  11. P_Smith says:

    It sounds like marriage. The sex is great before marriage, then the company gets a wandering eye after you tie the knot.

    Peters and Waterman had a rule in their book, “In Pursuit of Excellence”:
    One satisfied customer will tell one person. One dissatisfied customer will tell ten.

    Clearly companies don’t get this point. If they worked harder at pleasing existing customers, they’d get better word of mouth.

    Another take on the abuse of existing customers is Amazon’s ripoff in 2000 of people who bought from them before, showing lower prices to new customers to entice them to buy. Your purchases left cookies in your browser, and Amazon would show past customers higher prices than new customers. Maybe they’ve stopped doing it, but they did do it in the past.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/09/06/amazon_makes_regular_customers_pay/

    .

  12. dr_drift says:

    I worked in a call center and I absolutely agree with the article. I thought I’d be different than the customer service reps that I had to deal with in my personal life, and I actually was. Because I didn’t make efficiency numbers and because I wouldn’t lie (they literally encouraged me to lie) to customers to get upsells, I was punished. When they saw that I didn’t really care too much about being punished personally, they punished the entire department for my numbers alone, making sure that it was on the big office whiteboard. I finally found something better, which was good because I used to come home sick with how awful it was to work in that call center. On a positive note, I now love Glengarry Glen Ross.

    “You are a shithead, Williamson.”

    • Bativac says:

      That’s where I am now, coming home sick and miserable. Call centers are terrible, awful places.

      Some of us here in the call center that were around before it was a call center still try to help customers and take time addressing their concerns. Consequently our numbers are lower and our performance reviews suffer. But until somebody else is hiring…

    • Munchie says:

      I also work in a call center as a rep but have a nice view of the management side of things. We have run tests with giving reps all the authority they want to resolve issue. The end result is them giving the customer pretty much whatever they want so they will go away. For them to actually follow policy in the face of a screaming rage machine is the rub. So not only are customers losing their profit they are becoming a cost. So you want to know why your job sucks as a rep? Because a majority of people have no back bone and roll over for the customer just to get rid of them. No only does the customer lose their profit for the company, they will call back and expect the same treatment again even if its a one time exception.

      • Bativac says:

        That sounds like a management answer. Slaves to corporate policy even when corporate policy is completely antithetical to honoring the original commitment to the customer.

        As a human, I understand there are some cases where corporate policy may not cut it. Death or terminal illness of a longterm customer, for example. Or, poor up-front handling of the situation by the company causing company-enforced deadlines to be missed.

        There is “company policy” and then there is “honoring your commitment to the customer.” My company once did the latter but is now starting to adhere to the former. The end result is what was once an industry leader is beginning to slip in both customer service ratings and share of business in the industry.

      • MissMostlyMittens says:

        Lame, see Zappos as an example. Plus if that really is the case blame management for not hiring the right reps and lack of training. Sounds like you go to the typical “Carrot or the Stick” management school. Which if you know anything about psychology, you know that this typical management style doesn’t work. The best fit is based on companies that hire those interested in working for a company with shared values. Zappos used to actually pay you to leave if after period of time if you didn’t feel like it was a good fit. Damn Amazon purchasing them, hope they really do keep their culture.

      • halo969 says:

        I worked as a call center rep 10+ years ago for the cable company and I had a backbone. The problem was as soon as the customer asked to speak to a supervisor all my effort was undone by the supervisor being the “good guy” and giving the customer everything I wouldn’t (and was told not to) give.

        It was a soul-sucking experience, and even back then they’d focus a lot on call times which was frustrating when I was actually trying to help while my coworkers were just trying to get people off the phone. Add to that the unscrupulous reps who would automatically add a cable guide to every order without the customer’s knowledge and as a result would not only make more than me (bonus for every guide sold), but would win trips for their high sales, and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

        I could never do it again and feel for those who have to do it.

  13. dreamfish says:

    I suppose this is a continuation of the policy they’ve had for years – back since the days when there was less competition, product/service offerings were relatively similar and changing providers was a major hassle.

    Nowadays those things are less true – though I suspect it’s the last one that stands out the most, with people rationalising the poor serving they’re getting as ‘not that bad’ because they can’t be bothered to go to the effort of changing.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The last one is even more true now, where everyone has automated bill-pay. BoA just issued me a new card # after one of their employees was caught selling data (Background and credit checks for employment just plain DON’T WORK, people, they’re solely an invasion of privacy). Changing my billing accounts at every company I do business with was a massive hassle.

      It used to be that changing accounts just meant going to the bank, getting your cashier’s cheque, then taking it to the new bank. There were no automated payment systems which required manual account changes, you’d just send in your new cheques with a new number on.

      And I’m not sure where you’re living, but there’s *FAR* less competition in nearly every arena now than there was 30 years ago. The major exception being telecom, but most telecom providers aren’t “competing,” they’re going after different market segments. And who needs to compete when you can just force your customers into long-term contracts?

  14. ScarletAnn says:

    I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for years and each time I find myself in an area with poor cell coverage I vow to switch my carrier. But I always kept T-Mobile because they had by far the best customer service. If the first line rep couldn’t help me I could always get help from a second or third tier support person. This was especially important having a Blackberry. One third tier tech rep spent over an hour with me setting up a Blackberry to work as a modem with my MacBook (this is not easy to do).
    Now on my last call all the rep did was read from a canned script and said I shouldn’t be having the problem I had since it says in her script “it should work”. After that she said I go look at the link on their web site if I still had problems. No more second tier tech support to anyone who actually understands anything about a Blackberry, let alone third tier who actually knew the
    OK T-Mobile, I put up with the worst coverage of all the major cell providers because of your previously great customer service. So when my contract expires, sorry goodbye. Keep spending money on getting new customers. Now your business model matches everyone else.

  15. CWG85338 says:

    I own a small retail business, and I don’t have a huge advertising budget. Consequently, most of our new business is from referrals, because we give our customers all the time and attention they need. If I had unlimited cash to advertise, I would put most of it in the bank and do the same thing I am doing now! It’s a no-brainer that if you treat your customers extremely well, you won’t need to advertise. They do it for you – and don’t be afraid to ask them for their help!

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Yes, but that might be the very reason you own “a small retail business” and not Walmart.

      /Devil’s Advocate

  16. sqeelar says:

    Strange. American Religion has adopted this philosophy, too. Service after the sale seems more likely to be missing in the mega outfits, while the little ones seems to not grow a lot, but provide quality year in year out.

  17. smo0 says:

    It’s not about money… it’s ego. In the case of cellular providers, whoever has the most customers… wins.

    I think the money part comes into play when the reports come out and they find that they ARE losing money by searching out new customers rather than take care of their pre-existing ones…. they just say, “what else can we cut from the customer service call centers…”

    Customers aren’t the ONLY ones getting hosed by this process….

  18. godai says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl67TNDW-0Q

    Seams to sum it up pretty well. (Ally Commercials seam to be right up Consumerist’s alley)

  19. ScarletAnn says:

    I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for years and each time I find myself in an area with poor cell coverage I vow to switch my carrier. But I always kept T-Mobile because they had by far the best customer service. If the first line rep couldn’t help me I could always get help from a second or third tier support person. This was especially important having a Blackberry. One third tier tech rep spent over an hour with me setting up a Blackberry to work as a modem with my MacBook (this is not easy to do).
    Now on my last call all the rep did was read from a canned script and said I shouldn’t be having the problem I had since it says in her script “it should work”. After that she said I go look at the link on their web site if I still had problems. No more second tier tech support to anyone who actually understands anything about a Blackberry, let alone third tier who actually knew the
    OK T-Mobile, I put up with the worst coverage of all the major cell providers because of your previously great customer service. So when my contract expires, sorry goodbye. Keep spending money on getting new customers. Now your business model matches everyone else.

  20. Scamazon says:

    When businesses “GET IT” that retaining customers and not just treating them and their employees that serve them (Or outsourced Customer Service as the case may be) as cost centers, they will win and retain customers over the others even is their products are inferior to their competition. Trying to win customers back after the fact doesn’t cut it in my book. Do you hear that AT&T and COMCAST???

    My nephew works for an outsourced customer service company based in the US and they are trained to make customers go away on the first call even if they have a valid complaint.

  21. dragonfire81 says:

    Another problem is the way the customer service staffs themselves are treated. It’s an environment where we are extremely overworked and underpaid, expected to do all sorts of scripts and pitches and upsells all for a ridiculously low hourly rate. On top of that, the company wants this kind of fierce loyalty from us when we get the opposite from them, they lay us off and cut our benefits whenever they deem fit, regardless of how long we’ve been there or how well we perform.

    How messed up is it that companies fire people who are good at their jobs, simply because they are GOOD at their jobs and make a lot of money doing it? You just can’t win as an employee these days. Do poorly, you get fired and treated like crap, do well, you get fired and treated like crap.

    When your employee morale is in the gutter, should you really be surprised when they don’t treat your customers well? We are given NO INCENTIVE to anything beyond the most basic customer service we can.

  22. psm321 says:

    This reminds me of how cell phone companies used to (don’t know if they still do) offer better deals on phones to a new subscriber than to a current subscriber renewing their contract

  23. oldwiz65 says:

    They focus on getting new customers cause it is cheaper than keeping current customers. Besides new customers can be charged higher fees for things like cell phone contracts, cable contracts, and everything else. They would much rather get new customers than keep old ones.

  24. Munchie says:

    I work in a call center as a rep but have had a nice view of the management side of things. We have run tests with giving reps all the authority they want to resolve issues. The end result is the agent giving the customer pretty much whatever they want so they will go away. For them to actually follow policy in the face of a screaming rage machine is the rub. So not only are customers losing their profit they are becoming a cost. So you want to know why your job sucks as a rep? Because a majority of people have no back bone and roll over for the customer just to get rid of them. No only does the customer lose their profit for the company, they will call back and expect the same treatment again even if its a one time exception.

  25. sopmodm14 says:

    all that work to gain a single customer ?

    do wrong to tarnish loyalty and brand image and guess what, you not only lose that one, but all their friends and family

    just like the used/new car business….do me right, i’ll refer you to a friend or two….do me wrong, i’ll tell everyone

  26. JadePharaoh says:

    Yeah. I constantly see companies offering all kinds of attractive deals for “new customers only”, while offering nothing to loyal customers who have done business with them for years. Of course it’s in the business’s interest to acquire new customers, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of the ones you already have.

  27. pattymc says:

    A local oil company was charging new customers 30 cents less per gallon than they charges existing customers. I found this out because my elderly neighbors – they are in their mid-90′s – were paying 30 cents more per gallon than I was. I told her not to stand for it and she called them up and they refunded $189. I was always taught in marketing that it cost less to retain customers, more to attract new ones and way, way more to regain those one loses. This is a backasswards strategy.

  28. JustLurking says:

    There is a new school that believes blowing off the angry customer to fawn over the good and satisfied one is better for business in the long run.

    The belief is that loyalty from a consumer is very hard won and that it is definitely worth more than the potential customer not yet acquired.

    In other words, the bird in the hand is worth more than the two in the bush.

    Too bad most companies don’t recognize this concept.

  29. MishunAcomplisht says:

    The bottom line in corporate America today is customers need to be punished, ignored, or disregarded to “save money”. Consultants literally made and continue to make BILLIONS of dollars engineering the industries around this belief and outsourcing like there’s no tomorrow.

    Until people get mad and organized and absolutely stop buying ANYTHING for an expanded period of time in protest, this simply won’t change. Consumers in this country are too willing to be doormats and not FIGHT for the common decency respect they deserve simply for spending money on / with the business.

    It really has literally become a case of “most businesses in business SHOULDN’T BE”. We have had a race to the bottom, where the meanest, cruellest, most selfish people run the businesses controlling every level and every facet of our lives, and life sucks as a result.