This is a 2-part retention account mock call where a single customer talked to two different agents. The first call was to the Billing Department while the second was to the Retention Department.

YouTube video

First Call (Billing Department)

Claire: Thank you for calling Starnet Customer Service. This is Claire, how may I help you today?

Customer: Hi, this is Samantha. I’m a bit confused by a $5 charge on my recent bill and want to know what it’s for.

Claire: Sure, I’ll be happy to help. May I know your email and full name?

Customer: sam@aol.com, Samantha Jones. I’ve been with you for about 5 years now, and this is the first time I’ve encountered this.

Claire: Just one moment, Samantha. Let me pull up your account.

Strike 1: This was Claire’s first cue to empathize but she missed it. To Samantha, it sounded dismissive. It’s still early though and Claire could still redeem herself.

Customer: Fine.

Claire: Alright, I see the charge. It’s associated with a service upgrade. It shows here that you’ve opted in for automatic upgrades. And with this upgrade, you get a new user interface and an additional storage of 30GB.

Customer Okay, I do remember opting in for updates and such, but I was under the impression that any major changes, especially those involving charges, would be communicated to me in advance.

Claire: Yes, it was communicated to you in advance. We sent you an email last Friday informing you about this upgrade and then it rolled out last Tuesday. You might want to check your email.

Customer: I certainly don’t recall seeing any notification about this. This was quite a surprise!

Claire: Well, did you check your spam folder? It’s not uncommon to miss these kinds of emails. And as I mentioned, you did opt in for upgrades. So the system just followed your settings.

Strike 2: While Claire’s explanations are accurate, it failed to acknowledge the emotional part of it – Samatha’s feelings about the unexpected charge.

Customer: I understand the system followed my settings, but it’s the lack of clear communication I’m concerned about. Can I speak to a supervisor to understand this better?

Claire: Well, what kind of clear communication do you prefer? You opted in for an automatic upgrade so I assume you’re already aware of this.

Customer: Yes, but I thought it would be free! Or at least send me an email first before charging me!

Claire: Well, we don’t do that. If you sign up for an automatic upgrade, then that is a paid feature which means it’ll automatically charge you. Otherwise, you need to disable that setting on your account.

Customer: Well, I get that now! I still want to talk to a supervisor.

Claire: I can do that. But I doubt the supervisor is going to give you a different explanation. But if you insist, I can take down a request.

Customer: I’d like that. I’d like to discuss this further.

Claire: Okay, I will put in the request for a supervisor to call you back. Otherwise, I suggest checking your settings or email to avoid surprises in the future.

Strike 3: Instead of acknowledging her frustration, she again hinted that it’s not the company’s fault but Samantha’s – which is true. But still, she should have acknowledged the inconvenience. An apology isn’t needed, but acknowledgement is in order.

Customer: You know what, why don’t you just transfer me to the cancellation department?

Claire: Okay… I’m sorry for the misunderstanding but if you want, I can also request for that $5 charge to be reimbursed. You also have that option.

Here, Claire backpedaled and tried pacifying Samantha by offering a refund, but a refund isn’t really what Samantha needs here. What she needs is an acknowledgment which Claire never gave.

Customer: No, honey. It was never about the charge. Just cancel my service, please.

Claire: I understand. To cancel the service, I will now transfer you to the appropriate department. Hold on.

Customer: Okay.

Second Call (Retention Department)

Candace: Thank you for calling Starnet Retention Department. My name is Candace. How can I assist you today?

Customer: Hi Candace. So, I’ve been with Starnet for about 5 years now but after my last interaction with a woman named Claire, I’ve decided to cancel my subscription.

Note: She cited Claire as the reason for the cancellation, not the unexpected charge.

Candace: Oh, no! Can you tell me more about your interaction? What seems to be the issue?

Customer: Certainly! So I called today because of a mysterious $5 charge on my bill. Claire got my call. From the very start, she sounded impatient. I tried explaining my concerns multiple times, but she repeatedly interrupted me. When I asked her for clarity, she sounded dismissive and made me feel like I was the problem.

Upset customers tend to exaggerate. So if you’re being told bad stories by a customer about a rude/incompetent rep, stay as neutral as possible while making her feel that you’re on her side. It’s necessary to not fully take customers’ tale at face value.

Candace: That does not sound at all like the service we aim to provide here. Our goal is always to assist and clarify, not to make you feel like an inconvenience.

Customer: Well, that’s what she made me feel! An inconvenience! When she did finally address the charges, she rattled off some scripted response. And when I requested a supervisor, she mentioned they were all busy. It felt like I was being brushed aside. She was very dismissive!

Candace: Samantha, first and foremost, I want to apologize for what you experienced. Let me just say that that should never have happened. Never is it our aim to treat our customers like that.

Customer: Exactly! It was such a stark contrast to my previous experiences with Starnet!

Candace: I really am sorry to hear that. Here’s what I’m going to do: I will personally initiate an investigation into this. I’ll pull up the recording, review the conversation, and address this with Claire. Believe me, this shouldn’t have happened to you and I apologize that it did. You also mentioned a $5 charge. Are you referring to the charge on August 10th for a service upgrade?

Note: Candace didn’t badmouth Claire but still acknowledged the customer’s frustration. Afterwards, she shifted the topic to Samantha’s initial reason for the call. 

Customer: Yes, I am! And honestly, I still don’t know what it’s for!

Candace: Okay, give me a few seconds to check. I’m pulling up your account right  now.

Customer: Thank you.

Candace: I see that the charge was for a service upgrade. Because your account has its upgrade button on, you were automatically rolled into this new feature which provides a new user interface and an additional storage of 30GB. Did Claire inform you about this?

Customer: She did! And I got confused for a while but I get it now. I haven’t checked my spam, but she’s probably right, the notification went to spam. But see, that is not my problem anymore. My problem is her condescending attitude. As I said, she was dismissive, rude, and passive aggressive. I just wish she’d explained it more nicely, you know?
She said I really should check my email to avoid – in her exact words- “ unwanted surprises in the future”! And she repeated herself with this tone many times that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just had to cancel!

This is no longer about the bill. This is now about Claire.

Candace: Oh, I’m so sorry Samantha. I have no explanation for what happened. I wish I do, but I don’t. The only thing I can do now is to take corrective actions to prevent this from happening again. Also, before you decide to cancel – and I understand your need to cancel- but before you do that, I’d like to try and rectify the situation. Would that be okay with you?

Customer: Well, I’m not sure what you can do at this point, but I’m willing to listen.

Candace: To show how much we value your loyalty and patience, we’d like to offer you two months of our service for free. And I understand this does not change your recent experience, but I hope this can serve as a start to rebuilding your trust.

Customer: That’s a kind gesture, Candace. And I will accept that. But my concern is more about the treatment. I need to know that if I call in the future, I won’t face the same issue.

Candace: Absolutely understood, Samantha. We’ll definitely be addressing this feedback with Claire and our entire team to prevent this from happening in the future. We’re invested in ensuring all our customers, especially our long-standing ones like you, feel understood, valued, and heard! I mean, there shouldn’t be any other way to treat customers.

Customer: I appreciate you taking this seriously, Candace. Let’s go with your offer, but I really hope I won’t have a reason to regret this decision.

Candace: Samantha, I’ll make it my personal mission to ensure you don’t regret staying with us. Thank you for giving us a chance to make amends. After this call I’m going to send you an email containing the code for the free 2-month subscription. And again, I apologize this happened to you.

Customer: Thank you, Candace. I’ll keep that in mind.

Candace: And thank you for being understanding. Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Customer: No, thank you so much. Thank you for listening. Know that I truly appreciate this. You have a great day. 

Candace: You are most welcome, Samantha. Have a great day. Bye.

Summary

  • The customer’s reason for the first call was the unexpected charge. For the second call, it was Claire.
  • To be fair, Claire isn’t the only one with an attitude; the customer definitely has one too, and she actually initiated it. What she didn’t expect was Claire’s refusal to acknowledge or defer to her.
  • However, considering this is a customer service and retention account, there’s a certain degree of deference expected towards customers, at least until it becomes unreasonable (such as in cases involving cursing, racist or sexist comments, etc.). This situation falls within the category where deferring to customers is necessary to maintain their satisfaction and retention.
  • Some might say, “Never let a customer be rude to you.” But let’s face it, that’s just not how it works in real life. Friction is bound to happen sometimes. While there are definitely situations where it’s totally okay to hang up the phone, it’s also true that you got to have some level of tolerance for all kinds of folks. If you bail at the first sign of negativity, well, that’s not really customer service anymore.

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