Cancelling Customers

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 721524


    Last week's guest editorial talked a bit about the customer fiasco at Sprint. I certainly don't think armed services personnel should be penalized and really should be able to get out of almost any contract without penalties if they are transferred. We certainly owe the individuals serving in any of our countries a debt of gratitude and this is the least we can do.

    However this seems like a data mining report gone bad to me. I can just imagine some pinheaded MBA reading a BI report that shows customer services costs are $1M and we can cut that down to $200,000 by getting rid of the 1000 customers that cost the most money. You figure that you have 50M customers, losing 1000 or so isn't a big deal. You probably lose 10,000 a month anyway.

    So you dig in and see that by manipulating the report variables in your Cognos or Proclarity report, you can find customers that call support more than 25 times a month and customers that roam too much and set a monthly report to auto generate a letter to these people cancelling their service. You get this brilliant idea approved and ...

    You're in the Wall Street Journal for incredibly insensitive actions. Anyone want that job?

    I think this would not have been a big deal for Sprint if they would have dug in deeply to the circumstances of everyone they were thinking of cancelling. Check customer service logs, listen to some calls, see if they are truly problems that cost you money or if you have broken processes. From the reports I've seen on various sites and message boards, there were definitely some problems with Sprint's customer service.

    If you decide to go into consulting, you will have problem customers. It's just the law of averages that out of every 10 clients, you'll have 1 or 2 that eat up most of your time, are a pain, etc. Dropping them isn't always an option, but neither should you feel that you have to put up with problem customers. Be fair, give them honest effort and service for your charges, and do a professional job.

    But don't put up with unfair treatment. The customer isn't always right and sometimes does deserve to be fired.

  • Andy Leonard


    Points: 10019

    Another great editorial Steve!

    When a customer relationship goes bad sometimes (gasp) I'm the one that's wrong.

    Usually there's room for improvement on both sides in those situations. But you're absolutely correct about those who serve - there's simply no justification for the way they were treated by Sprint.

    :{> Andy

    Andy Leonard, Chief Data Engineer, Enterprise Data & Analytics

  • mary jones-135458

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 154


    Great editorial.  Mom

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 721524

  • Matt Miller (4)

    SSC Guru

    Points: 124208


    Another reason to remember that just because the word INTELLIGENCE is in the title of the application running it doesn't mean that the report will be used intelligently.  Nothing more dangerous than a management type with an axe to grind and lots of data...

    It reminds me of those news reports that come out, making a big deal about statistics that mean nothing.  I saw one in my area recently where they were bemoaning the fact that 2/3 of all of the air pollution happens in the first 8 months of the year.....

    Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part...unless you're my manager...or a director and above...or a really loud-spoken end-user..All right - what was my emergency again?

  • Simon Munro-308389

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 284


    You're going to have to be careful about your editorials now that Mom Jones is keeping an eye on things.  You can't for example reminisce about how you took your mom's car out for a spin as a teenager or use your mom as a benchmark for typical users.

    Welcome, Mom Jones.. help us keep him on his toes.



  • jay-h


    Points: 18816

    I had that happen to me some years ago with Verizon. They made a big deal about that I could sign up for flat rates to selected areas for an additional fee. Since I worked some distance away, and made some other calls there, I took the offer.

    A few months later they cancelled myservice saying I was over using it. I checked back into my phone calls (which showed on the bill even though they were included) and found that NOT ONE MONTH did I even hit the flat rate they were charging me.



    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • noeld

    SSC Guru

    Points: 96590

    Most Wireless providers IMHO are hiding a lot of fees and it is very difficult to get any reimbursment for their mistakes. I wish not 1000 but 1000000 were calling them for costumer support just to give them some of their own medicine

    * Noel

  • Greg Edwards-268690


    Points: 20587

    I'm almost looking forward to the day they cancel me. For 3 months running, they've messed up my bill. Every month, they assure me that they've fixed the problem. Maybe I'll be surprised this month.

    With 3 users, and usage split 2%, 40%, and 58%, they suggest splitting the bill 90%, 8%, and 2%. So I can somewhat understand how skilled they are at data mining.

    Greg E

  • Charles Kincaid


    Points: 13593

    Everybody has customer service problems.  There are times when you wish that certain customers would just go away.  There are days when I wish that all of them would go away.  Then I remember that our current customers love us and tell their friends and that the former customers curse us and tell their friends.

    My wife had a funny problem with Sprint.  She started getting these strange beep on the wireless.  One day right as it happened she handed me the phone.  I looked at the screen.  "Oh, you got a text message."  It was Spint.  The message was thanking her for her payment.  It took several weeks to get them to stop sending her text messages.  She got so frustrated that she finally had me call customer service for her (me being a trained negotiator).  The customer service manager went on and on about how Sprint sending their customers text messages was a good thing.  They can read the messages at leisure and much faster than listening to voice mail.  I asked if all text message features could be turned off on her phone.  "Why would she want to do that?"  I said that text messages are useless to her and that the arrival beeps were distracting.  We finally got the text stuff turned off.  Still can't turn off the camera though.  It was so amazing that they could not understand why text messages were a problem.

    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • Wayne West


    Points: 22586

    It's odd how companies are befuddled that we don't want certain service features. I could care less about text messaging and have never sent or received one. I on rare occasions receive an email via my cell phone from one particular friend who occasionally likes to be a jerk.

    The same thing goes for phone features. My cell does not have a camera, does not play music, I can't do anything about it having an alleged web browser, but since I don't pay for the data subscription it is kind of a moot point. But for me to replace this thing, I'm going to have to bend over backwards to get the features that I want and to NOT get the features that I do not want. I specifically DON'T want features like a built-in camera because I have occasional delusions about consulting at the local military bases.

    I read recently that the current gen of teens don't even email, everything is text messaging to them. I shudder to think about the resumes they'll be producing in a couple of years!

    Oh, and Steve: Maine was a family trip, my wife's mother and sister live there. I now live in NM and went to Phoenix last weekend for the holiday, but I still subscribe to the Phoenix user group mail list and have yet other occasional delusions of attending another Phoenix SQL Server meeting.

    Quite the delusional, ain't I?

    [font="Arial"]Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson[/font]

  • PGarberick


    Points: 1988

    Boy, if I still had Sprint, I guess I would have been on the list.  I must have called them over 25 times X 2.  Why?  Here's one reason:

    1. I would call about a billing question  They would insist on having my ex-husband call to verify that I could ask this question (his name was on the account and even though they knew I paid the bill every month and he was out of the picture, they refused to put my name on the account and remove his name).

     I would call my ex, endure some cussing and swearing, and then he would call

    2. They wait until I called again, tell me my ex said it was okay, and I could ask the question. They would then say they couldn't answer the question without my ex's okay

    Ex would call (see above)

    3. They would wait until I called again to tell me he said it was okay to answer the question.  Of course I'd usually need to ask another question, since the first question would not be answered satisfactorily.  Once again, they would say I needed to have my ex okay the question.

    Ex would call (see above)

    4. They would wait until I called again to tell me it was okay to ask my supplemental question, answer it(not to my satisfaction), plus let me ask a few more questions and act like they were bending over backwards to help me.

    So 4 separate phone calls from me to answer a question about my bill.  Mulitply this by the monthly calls I had to make to track down suspicious phone charges (it ended up that my ex found a way to re-activate his cellphone) and you can see how fast it would add up.

    Even when I tried to cancel the service, I had to call several times before they got the concept. 

  • Bob Hoffman-209065

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3224

    I would like to voice my support of Sprint and all wireless providers:



    Thank you.


  • Wayne West


    Points: 22586

    Can you hear me now?

    (sorry, couldn't resist)

    [font="Arial"]Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson[/font]

  • Bob Hoffman-209065

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3224

    Sorry, my Skype con.,;ect{';on is bre-=;/ng up on mi wreles c3ll p4one.

    Cam't heaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrr uuuuuuuuuuuuu

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