Follow up failures frustrate customers

“The Fortune is in the follow-up” is a favorite statement of Network Marketingfollow up uplines and instructors. There is a lot of truth in that statement for all marketers and any business that deals with fickle customers.

But do some businesses take the follow-up too far?

I am certain they do.

“Follow up” from a big Canadian bank almost fouled up my previously good relationship with them last week.

Since moving to Canada 7 years ago, I have remained a loyal and generally satisfied customer of the same bank. Generally satisfied because the level of service has been infinitely better than that to which I was accustomed in 3rd world Zimbabwe and on a par or better than that in the “old” South Africa before that.

A few years ago, I opened a stock trading account with the investment division of the bank so that I could buy and sell shares. As with my banking experience, I found that the service met my requirements and I had no complaints.

The volatility in the financial markets from 2008, persuaded me to  sell most of my investments in the stock market.   A few weeks ago, I disposed of my remaining shares.  To save the monthly administration fee, I attempted to close my trading account by using the on-line option.

It still amazes me how it is so simple and quick to open an on-line account for virtually anything but it almost requires a degree in website design to close that same account when the services are no longer required. Despite visiting every option on the menu, I did not succeed.

To prevent further frustration,  I called the customer service number which was prominently displayed on the website ( unlike many other websites) spoke to a helpful staff member who explained the procedure very quickly. I doubt if the call lasted more than two minutes.

A couple of days later, I checked on-line and sure enough, the trading account had been closed, there would be no further administration fees, I had achieved what I had set out to do and I had a positive feeling about the bank and the people who worked there.

Then the follow-up.

Last week, just as I was about to leave my home office I received a phone call from a man who quickly introduced himself as doing a follow-up call enquiry for the bank to see how satisfied I was with the way my phone call to them had been handled. He did provide the necessary proof that he was genuine.

My response was that I was short of time and that I was completely satisfied with the service I received.

This was not good enough for this gentleman, he was so persistent that he should have been a tele-sales instructor. He said he needed to ask me a few questions, I replied that I could only give him 2 minutes.

Then the questions started, I must have heard the question “Thinking back to the call you made to the …… section of ……. bank on  (date). On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied, how would you rate………..”

A good 5 minutes later after hearing that little speech at least 6 times and patiently answering all the questions with ratings of 8 or 9, I was ready to pop.

I stopped the process, my interrogator was a little put out that I was terminating the procedure before completion, I suppose  before he could check all the boxes on his answer sheet. He reacted a little like a dentist would if I told him not to fill a tooth cavity he had just drilled and prepared. Perhaps he is on commission and only gets paid for completed questionnaires.

Whatever the reason, it was not my problem, I was the customer. My last words to him were that I found it ridiculous to answer questions for 5 minutes about a telephone call that only took 2 minutes. A call that had taken place at least two weeks previously and one which I had found highly satisfactory, unlike his call that was about to leave me with a very negative impression of his client the bank.

I know the poor guy was just doing his job, it was not his fault that I was in a hurry and he may not have known that my original call only took 2 minutes.

Here are four things to consider when designing a follow-up procedure.

  • Be honest and up front about the time required for the follow-up.
  • Make the follow-up relevant and appropriate to the original contact.
  • Encourage interviewers to be sensitive to customers attitude.
  • Make the explanations of the questions less repetitive.
This is not the first time I have been “followed up” with by this bank, it is surprising how many times I have been contacted considering how few times I have phoned them.

We all need to follow-up with our customers but we must always think of their reaction to the follow-up and be certain that it is going to leave the relationship at a better level than no follow-up would. Or worse, as in my case, leaving the customer more irritated than before the follow-up.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright



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  1 comment for “Follow up failures frustrate customers

  1. September 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I’ve had one or two of those, Peter. I’ve always wondered about the bright suit who put the survey together in the first place, considering that the information they glean from me through it is next to useless. It certainly explains what some of those fees we pay go towards . . .

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