Customer Experience Isn’t Just About Your Product

In this day and age one would think that subscription based technology businesses would understand the importance of customer satisfaction and customer retention. However, I’m sure you have run across examples in your own life where a business still doesn’t get it. I was recently told a story of an interaction with a company’s customer service that was a classic case study in what not to do as a provider.

This person received an email informing them that their website and domain name would auto renew in few days. They knew that the credit card in the account might be old so they checked the date and sure enough the expiration date had expired so they entered a new credit card into their account. On the day their website and domain was to be renewed their website was down, no other communication had been received from the provider.

First, they called customer support who said that their credit card had been denied and gave the credit card number of the new card. The customer called their bank and no charges had been attempted against that card so the customer called back to customer support. The second person they talked to said no it wasn’t a denied credit card it was an expired credit card. After some discussion the customer support representative said that the new credit card had been entered against one service with this provider but that each service; domain, email, website & e-commerce needed to have a credit card and the one for the domain name service and website had not been changed. Those services still had the credit card that was expired. The customer of course thought that changing the credit one place affected all services.

The customer support representative then said that to reinstate the service a $25 reinstatement fee must be paid. After more discussion the customer support representative was unwilling to waive the fee because it had to go to a third-party for reinstatement. The customer said that they would take care of it online rather than with the agent. The customer then located an online coupon for an amount more than the $25 reinstatement fee and applied that to the renewal and renewed the service. The net result for the provider was less revenue than they would have gotten originally.

A few hours later the customer’s website was back online.

So the net result of this transaction was:

  • Two customer support calls to the provider
  • A wasted call by the customer to the bank customer service
  • Less revenue than if the auto renewal had gone through
  • A payment to a third-party for domain name reinstatement

And most of all an unhappy customer!

All of this when the provider had two valid credit cards, one with an expired date.

These problems weren’t caused by the customer support representatives, although they could have handled them better. They were caused by poorly structure systems, processes and offers. The root causes in this case as I see them are:

  • Offers that aren’t connected with a common cross-service account structure. No one should have to maintain 4 different accounts for 4 interrelated services at the same company.
  • No service or process to detect and get new expiration dates for credit cards.
  • No time in the process to give the customer even a few hours to fix a renewal problem before their website goes offline.
  • No notification that a renewal had not occurred.
  • No freedom for the customer support representative on the phone to make the small gestures that can quickly rectify a customer service problem.

This is a true story of someone using a medium-sized provider of domain and web services. Will they recommend this service to others? Of course not! Will they move to another provider? Maybe.

The lesson here is that you may have a wonderful service but if the ordering and renewal processes are not smooth and customer friendly you will still have customer satisfaction and retention problems. What about your customer facing processes? Are they customer friendly?


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