Most companies operate telephone lines as a channel for communication for all of their services – from customer advice to sales to complaints. This is absolutely fine, especially because telephone numbers allow for a direct connection through to the department that you need to speak with. However, many companies operate a system where they advertise numbers for customer services that are charged at a premium rate, but when the sales lines are free to call.
Does this have an effect on the opinions that the customer has of the company? Would it benefit the company more if they did not adopt this attitude and charged all telephone calls at the same rate? The simple answer is yes to both of these. Companies fell into the trap of underestimating the impact of their service on their customers and for those who continue along this vein, they are noticing the difference.
There is one basic rule that all companies should follow: retention is easier than acquisition. For the majority of customers, the hassle that is involved in transferring their account from one company to another is too great for them to be bothered to do it too regularly. Therefore if the company they are currently with is acceptable enough to stay with, they will stay with them, even if they cost a little more than other companies. Therefore, for the company, they will find that it is far more cost effective for them to employ customer advisers who simply go through the motions of altering account information than to employ sales Advisors.
To make a sale a company has to be willing to make an offer that the customer can not refuse. This is most likely to fall into the financial category and will leave the customer better off – automatically making sure that the company picks up whatever is in deficit. This is not the case with customers that the company has already acquired because of course because the customer has been with the company for a period of time and therefore initial costs have balanced themselves out.
Charging customers for assistance is also a sure-fire way to make sure customers group together on social forums on the internet. If they are able to ask for, and receive, advice without having to part with their cash, they will do. This will of course in turn make sure that the company loses out on earnings because customers can find support elsewhere.