Is it easy to do business with your agency? That is a question that we all probably ought to ask ourselves more often than we do. I started thinking about that after a horrible experience trying to renew my contract for my home Internet, phone and television with Verizon. By the end of my ordeal, I came to the realization that Verizon made it so difficult to do business with them, that they actually are pushing customers away. Fortunately for them (and unfortunately for most everyone else) they have little competition and likely care very little about client retention or customer service. Oh to own a monopoly.
The backstory was my two-year agreement for Internet, phone and television expired and they wanted to lock me down for another two. Their only competitor in the market was offering a better deal than their renewal rates, so I called to see if they could match it. The woman I spoke with asked me what services I had. I tried to explain that she should have that information as I do not know the specifics—how many channels, what Internet speed, etc. She said she had no access to that information, so I logged on to my account and got the information for her. Rather than handle the transaction, she wanted to walk me through the website assuring me that the price would be matched. When it came time to actually purchase the renewal, the price was not lower. In fact the price for the service without a contract was even lower. She could not explain this and told me to click through anyway. Without knowing what was on the other side of “sign on the imaginary dotted line and lock yourself into another contract” link, I refused. She told me that was the only way to do it. I quietly explained that there was another way—to cancel the service and go with their competitor. I left it at that and decided to mull it over for a bit. After all, there is a certain amount of hassle involved with swapping.
Of course I am a bit biased, but I think travel is a bit more complex than delivering television channels to a cable box on the television. There is plenty of room for “natural” confusion with fare codes, categories, pricing that changes on a whim, and the various discounts and special offers. I can easily see how frustrations can arise when booking travel. Heck, we all live with them every day. We also take them for granted. Of course, the rate will change at midnight. No, we can’t hold the space for 3 weeks while you decide. Well the cruises are really not completely all inclusive. Yes you do really need 2 hours to transit Heathrow.
But our customers likely do not know the ins and outs of the business and it is our job to make sure we convey them clearly and concisely. We cannot afford to be complacent like Verizon—it is far too easy for our customers to get what they want from several sources. We must make it easy and clear how we do business. Set the expectations early and exceed them. You can leave them hanging, but you do so at your own risk. How easy do you make it?