customer relationshipWe all have had relationships at one time or another in our lives with that someone who made us feel appreciated, loyal, and committed. These relationships vary in length and meaning depending upon our commitment level. But the minute we feel taken for granted, undervalued and not special, that relationship is at risk of ending.

In many ways, consumers compare some of the same commitment criteria from the brands, products and services we engage with. Recently, I had what could be categorized as an epic break up with a company after a 14-year relationship. When we first started out, I was wooed by their great offers, felt special by unique upgrade opportunities, and had great conversations on any questions I may have had. But after a recent interaction with this leading telecom provider’s contact center concerning a simple equipment upgrade – our relationship’s fate was sealed.

I called the 1-800 number of my telecom provider to upgrade my equipment. The first agent informed me that since I was an existing customer I would be transferred to the retention department. Retention?! I was looking to actually upgrade my service. The second agent said I could upgrade my equipment, but that it required a new service package. I cited an offer I saw online, but was informed it was only available to new customers. He offered me a different package discount, and then transferred me to a third agent to verify the upgrade. The third agent could not validate the offer code placed by the second agent, but offered me a different package discount. I hung up the phone neither upgrading my equipment, nor feeling valued by my provider. Adding insult to injury, I received an email the next day validating my change of service with my new monthly service fee – at full price. I am now a customer of their competitor.

As I reflect back on the break-up, it is easy to see the signs they were taking me for granted: they had stopped listening to me as an existing customer and were more focused on attracting new customers. Like most break ups – where it’s not me, it’s you – I received a “come back” letter from my ex-provider. They offered to buy out my new contract from their competitor, and give me an annual package deal. If they had only offered it to me as a 14-year loyal customer, I would have stayed.

So as the steward of customer relationships within your company, you have a responsibility to retain your long-term, loyal customers and minimize the chance of a break up. To assist in evaluating your customer retention strategies keep these two points in the forefront:

1. Invest Properly in the Customer Experience

Companies spend a disproportionate amount of money on customer acquisition marketing while they are hemorrhaging in customer retention due to the disappointing customer lifecycle experience that is delivered. Every interaction with a company’s contact center has a chance of great success or runs the risk of being a negative experience. Competitors are always targeting your customers, so as you are following through with a communication to rescue the customer, your competitor may have already started the process of moving on to your competition.

The investment in the customer experience needs to be comprehensive to ensure your support staff is properly trained on their escalation process, offers for agents and departments are streamlined, and the use effective technology such as real-time speech analytics to enhance the experience.

2. Never Stop Listening to Your Customer

Are you giving the customer what they want, or what you think they should have? In many cases this comes back to organizations rewarding management on new vs. existing customers, when to the bottom line of a company, keeping a long-term customer generally is more valuable. In a fast-paced marketplace it is important to continually be in sync with the voice of the customer. Customer needs change. To remain relevant, brands need to listen and respond in a personal and meaningful way.

So, before your customers start feeling fed up with your relationship and uncertain about the products and services your company provides, consider the health of the relationship, and stop taking them for granted.  After all, breaking up is hard to do and is very costly. And  remember, it’s not me – it’s you.

To learn more about delivering great Customer Experience (CX), please check out our on-demand webinar Definitive Guide to Differentiating Your Cloud Contact Center.

Thanks for reading and join us on Thursday!