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Lost Manners = Lost Money.

November 28th, 2012

One of the things that I see, running the largest Internet Service Provider comparison site in Canada is how ISPs lose customers. Off the top of most peoples' heads, if asked for the primary reason customers leave an ISP, they tend to think it is because of slow speeds or high prices.

How to lose customers

Believe it or not, the number one reason ISPs (and heck, many, MANY other companies) lose customers is poor customer service - Or, more simply, lack of manners.

This is not to say that all ISPs have poorly trained front line staff - In fact, there are a few stellar examples of them out there. I have seen issues arise where a customer begins a complaint due to outright incompetence on an ISPs' side (forgetting to put an order through for provisioning, or not setting up an account correctly, or over-billing), where the customer started off genuinely angry and thinking of switching providers, only to see them gently guided back to not only a *happy* customer, but a positively *enthusiastic* customer. More often than not, this is not achieved by giving away heaps of freebies, but with simple manners; A staff member acknowledging their mistake, apologizing for their mistake and fixing their mistake. Quite often, a follow up after a few days is made from the staff member to the customer, just to ensure that they are happy with the service and solution they were given.

In other words: The customer is made to feel like they are *respected* and that they *matter*.

The customer will not care what your staffs' personal problems are - Nor should they.

All too often a front-line staff member forgets that it is their job to respond to customer needs. The customer *does not care* - and nor should they - that you've been on the phone with unhappy customers for six hours in a row. The customer does not care - nor should they - that you forgot your lunch at home, that your rent is late, that your cat just died or you've got a really bad case of athlete's foot; They have an issue with the service that they paid money for and they would like it resolved.

What many front-line staff also forget is that a customer *should not be having issues* in the first place: Ideally, they should pay their money, plug in their modems and never, ever have to think about their ISP again, other than making sure there is enough money in the bank to pay the bill at the end of the month. When a customer calls the ISP for anything *other than signing up*, that is an *anomaly*: It is NOT normal; It means that they are *not getting what they paid for*.

Your staff need to recognize WHY customers are calling: A problem needs to be fixed

Front-line staff *need to recognize this*; They must recognize that the customer is now out not only the money for the service that they paid for and are not getting, but out the time from other activities that they should be doing, because they are now dealing with their ISP on an issue that should, again, ideally, not have happened in the first place.

I say "ideally", because, frankly, that is the "ideal" - Real life, of course, means that "stuff happens" - Most of the time, a customer will call in to get the issue resolved and expect it to be an issue that is rare, few and far in between. They do, however, expect - and so should they expect - to be treated with respect, politeness and professionalism.

If you won't treat your customers with respect, your competitors WILL

Being made to wait forty minutes on hold, only to finally get a person on the other end of the line who not only does not apologize for the unreasonable hold time, but also forgets their "please" and "thank you" to the customer - That is telling them that they are just a number - This is not a good thing, because then the customer is reminded that you are "just (one of many) an ISP" - And you know what ? There ARE ISPs out there who DO treat their customers well, who DO respect their customers and who DO remind their customers that they matter.

Treat your customers with respect and your customers will treat you with their business.

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