John Gaffney has an interesting story over at Think Customers: The 1to1 Blog. It appears that Sprint has fired 1,000 of its most demanding and unprofitable customers. Some of the customers have been calling customer service over 25 times a month. But is firing them the right answer to Sprint’s problems, or is it just plain laziness on the part of its executives?
For each uprofitable customer there are a host of reasons why they are unprofitable and a corresponding host of potential solutions to make them profitable. Key amongst these is looking at the origins of why the customers are unprofitable. Twenty five calls a month is a lot. But why do they call 25 times a month?
- Is there something in Sprint’s products & services that is fundamentally broken? If yes, then fix it.
- Have the customers been sold inappropriate products & services? If yes, then transfer them to the right ones.
- Is Sprint not solving their problem on the first, or even the 24th call? If yes then fix customer service.
- Can we get the customer to use a lower-cost channel to resolve their problems? If yes, then migrate them across.
- Can we pass on the costs of calling to the customer? If yes, then contact the billing department.
- Can we pass the customer to a lower cost partner? If yes then migrate them across.
- Is the customer just looking for social contact? If yes, then refer them to an appropriate organisation.
If you really cannot solve the problem at source because of a ‘customer-issue’, then ease them out of being customers with grace and aplomb. Perhaps even refer them to a competitor who can provide them with the right products & services. Don’t just fire them! You never know how many friends they have in high places. Or if they have an A-list blog. Or if they will start one in response!
In a world of ever-decreasing service, it would be perhaps ‘helpful’ if executives and their consultants looked at customer experience problems through a magnifying glass, identified a way to solve the problems at source and then took the responsibility to implement them, rather than just shrugging their shoulders and passing the problem onto someone else.
What do you think?
Is Sprint just being lazy in firing its unprofitable customers? Or is this an intractable problem that just can’t be fixed?
Post a comment and get the conversation going.
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager