Article > Editor’s Note

As The Led Zeppelin Song Went, 'I'm Gonna Leave You'

By Mark Phillips

How do some people in "customer service" care seemingly not one iota about it?
Mark Phillips
A few years ago, I saw a report on CNN that a major retailer had calculated the cost of one of their customers leaving them for good. It amounted to more than $200,000 in lifetime purchases.


It sounded absurd to me at first, until I did some math, based on my own purchases. For almost a decade, I used the same cell phone carrier. That company also provided my cable TV. And my Internet service. A while back, I was having some issues with the company that they refused to fix. So I told the customer service rep on the phone, in essence, “You know what? After we get off the phone, I’m breaking up with you.”

The response? “Uh-huh. Yeah. Sure.” Many times, a customer cools down and puts up with it. Not this time. So I pulled the plug. I took my business elsewhere. I did the math. Over 10 years, I spent nearly $32,000 with this firm. As a consumer, that’s a lot of cash. It would seem to me at some point, someone would wake up.

How do some people in “customer service” care seemingly not one iota about it? I think the answer is, they don’t see how a customer leaving affects their job. If you tell customer service people that if too many customers leave, you’ll lose your job — not as a threat, but rather, a statement of fact — would that have an impact on their performance?

If the company I was doing business with got it right, not necessarily the first time, but on the fifth try, even, perhaps I’d still be doing business with them. Maybe for the next 10 years, they’d get my $40,000 or $50,000 or $60,000.

How can a customer leaving a company add up to $200,000 over a lifetime? It’s not hard to see.

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