I walked into a store today to hear the tail end of a disturbing conversation....

The store manager was on the phone with the phone company. She had FINALLY gotten a live person after being on hold for 10 minutes and was begging to know why there was no 800-number listed so she could call to cancel her phone service! She was moving and--no kidding!--there was no number listed on the phone bill.
The Corporate Undberbelly Exposed
First, they don't want you to go. There's this freaky process that's happening more and more these days: if you make it harder for customers to leave ("captive loyalty," I call it), then they won't.
Wrong! Customers who are determined to leave you will. It's just that when companies make it so hard to do it...they'll tell many, many customers about the experience...and will likely persuade some to leave who weren't considering it before.
Second, they want you to search through the massive "self-serve" menu that's been created on their Web site and find the answer to your problem instead of calling them. You see, somebody's tallied up all the reasons customers are calling and they've come up with pat answers to your questions. And they've done a great job of serving up the corporate "savings" to be had by cutting down personal service and beefing up self-service. If you do have the nerve and tenacity to call...you've got your work cut out for you.
What's happening in the corporate underbelly is that cost savings are the hero of the day. This exclusion of the 800-number was actually probably sold to do two things:
1) reduce costs (the first thing that is obviously rewarded), and
2) improve service.
Yes...you heard that right. In selling this new decision, there was probably an impassioned argument made that customers would prefer if they could find their own answers to their questions. There is some truth to that, yes....but don't cut off their lifeline to humans in the process.
That's where the underbelly went too far. But that was the bee-line to recognition for the person pitching this new process where "we can actually eliminate the need for service by giving customers the answers to their questions online." The cost savings likely made them a hero..and it is probable that the architect of this new approach giving customers so much pain got a pat on the back and maybe some coin in his/her pocket. Sad but true....
Stay tuned for more from the tales of the corporate underbelly or check out more at www.customerbliss.com.

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image of Jeanne Bliss
Jeanne Bliss began her career at Lands’ End where she reported to founder Gary Comer and the company’s executive committee, ensuring that in the formative years of the organization, the company stayed focused on its core principles of customer and employee focus. She was the first leader of the Lands’ End Customer Experience. In addition to Lands’ End, she has served Allstate, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker Corporation and Mazda Corporations as its executive leading customer focus and customer experience. Jeanne has helped achieve 95% retention rates across 50,000 person organizations, harnessing businesses to work across their silos to deliver a united and deliberate experience customers (and employees) want to repeat. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss (https://www.customerbliss.com), an international consulting business where she coaches executive leadership teams and customer leadership executives on how to put customer profitability at the center of their business, by getting past lip service; to operationally relevant, operationally executable plans and processes. Her clients include Johnson & Johnson, TD Ameritrade, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals, Bombardier Aircraft and many others. Her two best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. Her blog is https://www.ccocoach.com She is Co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. www.cxpa.org