I recently phoned a large leisure company to cancel my gym membership and left a message in the morning to that effect on their answer machine. I had been a member for many years, but I felt, I needed a change and with the summer coming and being in prime cycling territory I wanted to start to make the most of it. Plus, I had discovered the most wonderful yoga studio within walking distance. Of course, the company didn’t know any of this.
A day later I received a call back to this effect “Thank you for your call wishing to cancel your membership. We will need the request in writing and the cancellation period is three months, therefore if you cancel before the 31st January your membership will cease on April Ist. Any further questions don’t hesitate to call.”
Ok, let’s break this down. The fact is here they are about to lose a customer! In my opinion, I felt their response to this was clinical, uncaring and offered no question as to my reason for leaving. It was like they simply didn’t care.
For example, perhaps their message could have been more along the lines of this:
“Hi Mrs Roberts. We got your message about wanting to cease your membership. Firstly, we wanted to say thanks for your valued membership with XXXXXXX and we hope we have delivered everything you expected. If there is anything you wish to discuss with us, then I would be more than happy to meet you for a coffee in the cafe. However, if you simply wish to cancel, then I would be very grateful if you would kindly send us confirmation in writing. As you know the cancellation period is three months, so if you pop a letter into us before the 31st we can end it 1st April. I would like to give you three day passes to use during your cancellation period to thank you for your custom over the years. Should you wish to reinstate your membership during the cancellation period, we would of course arrange that with pleasure.
Thank you again and we look forward to hearing from you..”
This approach, to me, is far more acceptable and personable. It thanks the customer, offers them an opportunity to discuss any problems that might have determined their decision to leave, and offers an additional thank you in a form of a gift. Of course, this ‘gift’ is obviously disguised as an incentive to stay. If the customer brings a friend, then there’s a possibility that the friend might join and encourage the customer to keep their membership. Then you’ve not only retained your customer, you’ve also gained another.
To simply let a customer go without attempting to retain their custom is both rude and ignorant. If you relate this to a relationship, if one person wanted ‘out’ the only reason the other person would be nonchalant and unquestioning about it is if they didn’t really care a less about keeping them.
This is the same with brand -> consumer relationships.
Referring to my blog The Thought Map of a Consumer where I discuss customer journey mapping, this is another part of the map. Working through the map of why the customer used the service or brand and why he/she would change brands or cease to use that brand must be addressed. Consumers stop using brands for a multitude of reasons, lifestyle changes, the absence of necessity, personal circumstances, some that brands have not control over.
In summary, brands and services must have constant focus on customer service and retaining long term relationships with the consumer.
Also refer to my blog How Can I Improve?