The Bad Breakups in Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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It’s just like that boyfriend who started off great and then left you in a fit of rage. You know the one you can’t talk about without rolling your eyes about how awful it was “at the end”?

Except this relationship is with a company. They woo you. They send you special notes and offers. You decide to try it out. It starts off strong. You like the product, the company, the interactions. Then you decide you’ve outgrown this particular relationship. It’s time to move on. But they have different plans.

They make it so difficult to cancel. They think if they can keep you just  wee bit longer as a customer, you’ll have the opportunity to remember the honeymoon phase. They’ll sweet talk you into another option, one that’s better for you. It’s not you. It’s them.

I recently tried out an online backup service. It was one of several I was trying out. This one didn’t offer any free trial, so I read the rules of engagement (cancel anytime – it’s month-to-month!) and decided to fork over my digits. (Credit card digits, that is.)

They were ok. But then I felt it just wasn’t for me.

So after an entire relationship built online – sign up online, billing online, engaging with the product online – I searched and searched for how to cancel. No dice. I decided to call the “Contact Us” number only to find that I had to login to a special support site I had never used to have my “support case number” handy. I tried punching zero to talk to someone. But, no, they had outsmarted me. They would hang on to me a little longer. I had called on my way out the door – not sitting patiently in front of my computer. So I decided to do it later.

Another month. Another charge. For a product I no longer felt I needed or wanted.

Then I made up my mind. I did a search on the FAQ‘s and guess what!? “How do I cancel” is a common question in the user forums, but oddly not addressed in the company-written FAQ’s. Users ask over and over and the answer? Well, it’s shocking.

Log in to the support site you may have never used.

Need a password? That’s another step to go through.

Log in to the support site so you can punch in your “case support number” to the robot on the call.  Then call “Sales” although it’s not conveniently located near the support section.

So I called support, staring at my “Case Support Number” so I would be sure to get this done.

“Why would you like to cancel?” She asked. My blood pressure was rising. “Because I don’t use the product. I haven’t used it for at least 2 months, but this cancellation process is sort of a nightmare.”

“I’m so sorry about that. I actually can’t help you with canceling, but I will have someone CALL YOU BACK.”

I wish I was joking. I took a deep breath and said “I need to make sure to get a call today. And I will be, you know, living my life, so here is my mobile number.”

I received the call several hours later as I was trying on a dress for an event in a department store dressing room. He asked me to verify my case support number. I almost lost it.

He settled for the last 4 digits of my credit card number.

I asked why I couldn’t cancel online, when I can do everything else that way. He didn’t really have an answer.

Let’s say I need this type of product in the future. I will not even entertain working with this company again. All because they ruined it at the end.

This was, to put it mildly, a very bad breakup.

 Photo Credit: birgerking via Creative Commons license

 

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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