How telcos show customers the door

I recently learned an interesting piece of inside info about certain policies at telcos that I just can’t help sharing. They’re dubbed customer retention programs, but in reality they’re about the opposite.

What I was told is they do the math to calculate which customers are most profitable and which are least, and then they program the customer service call center to give their best customers the best service and their worst customers the worst service.

Specifically what that means is that when the voice system asks you to key in your phone number, it looks up which category you belong to. If you’re a top-tier customer, you’re immediately put through to one of their top customer service reps with authority to fix problems on the spot. If you’re the bottom tier, you’re left on hold indefinitely, or handed over to some newbie who doesn’t know shit after waiting almost forever.

It’s simple and obvious once you think about it. I just never thought they’d have the cojones to actually do something like that.

The problem for the telco is that they can’t easily show their worst customers the door. So instead they try to make the experience so miserable that the target customers choose to leave voluntarily. A tactic that’s as old as civilization itself, I’m sure.

1 comment

In the UK companies regularly do a lookup on telephone numbers in their queue and keep those in certain physical locations waiting, unless they are particularly good customers. But what about the morality of this? After all, if you had a couple of clients that were sucking your resources and energy, you'd consider asking them to find another coach, right? By the way, the customer retention team at Orange in the UK - at least up to 2005 - had significant latitude to RETAIN customers if they were worth retaining. Much better to speak with them than the first-level operators who were absolutely hopeless. I always came away with a better deal from that retentions team.

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