how to lose customers

Posted by on June 29, 2009 in geeky stuff | 2 comments

Wow, I’ve been staggered by the amount of bad customer experience I’ve had this last week or so – I’m writing this entry partly as a personal exorcism and then I’ll summarise at the end what I would of done differently in their shoes.

1) HSBC – it took me more than a month to speak to the right representative for ePayments, (which had they responded sooner, we would of used for our warpsauce project)  then AFTER I had finally done so, I get a letter saying “we’ve been unable to reach you” – hold on… I’ve been a personal banking customer for 20+ years and a business customer for a year… you should of had some… maybe just a little… bit of contact information for me?! Sadly this has been the latest in a string of failures by HSBC to do fairly simple things when I needed them too. If it wasn’t for the hassle of changing all my banking stuff and the fact I’m really busy right now I’d probably be leaving them.

2) Midnight Software – I made a pretty simple email request, that I could pay our monthly hosting by some form of repeat payment… no reply. This worried me a little, but not enough to take action… until our VPS hosting went down twice this week, in our first month with them. I’ve not received any form of explanation from them, as the account holder, although Tom (the tech guru) has mostly had responses to his support requests. Result = new hosting located on Friday and our site will be migrated this week.

3) Orange – I got my first orange phone in 1996, I’ve had the same number and been mostly happy with them since. Until I broke my N95 earlier this year, that’s ok… I’ve paid £5 a month for the insurance in case that happens… right? Nope. There’s an “admin” fee now. Ok minor grumble. Major grumble – I’ve tried so many avenues to get any info on the N97 – customer services, know nothing – they didn’t know if it was coming on orange. The two guys I messaged on twitter, one responded “no information yet” – my email to customer services, didn’t even get a reply.

Does EVERY point of contact for your organisation record enquiries in a consistent professional manner and then follow them up?

I’ve realised, whilst I use a variety of tools to manage my time, diary and contacts, I need to improve this aspect of my business – especially now my team is expanding.

A customer with a query, is a potential sale, track their information – use a CRM and make sure someone follows them up! If orange had any sense (especially seeing how the N97 is now available at phones4u on orange) any of my communications could of gone onto a “sell these people an N97 as soon as we have info” list.

A simple flag on my account, would of kept me as a customer. Vodafone by contrast, at my first point of contact said they didn’t have info yet, would I like to leave my email addr. and they’ll contact me when they do – which they then have done.

Take ownership of your customer, especially if they come through to the wrong place.

When you take a call, twitter, email… whatever, take responsibility for passing this information to the person who can help them. Any of my problems with HSBC could of been resolved if one person had said, I don’t know but I’ll get the right person to contact you.

In one case I had to make 9 phone calls till I went to the right place – only call number 8 took any ownership, amusingly that was taken by FirstAssist who operate a related service for HSBC.. who I contracted too some years ago and are based a walking distance from my flat.

Get, and make use of, an effective CRM and at all points of customer contact take ownership – you can outsource most things in any given business, but not your relationships.


  1. Update: Still no word from Midnight Software and our site has dis-appeared again. Nice. Good thing C4L have moved quickly and efficiently to get us up n running.

  2. Luke you might want to check this chap out John Seddon He has much to say about why call centres get it so wrong. That goes for public service as well. His book Freedom from Command and control is brilliant

    I have experience similar problems recently with Tiscai moving house. You would think the moving house department could take ownership to make the arrangements to move my service 300 metres up the road. No 10 calls 3 cases of over charging including my full term contract at the old address and 3 months later finally I have some closure. i.e a new provider.

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