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Call me a sucker, but I saw an internet advertisement for a free sample of a dietary supplement that I wanted to try and I went for it…knowing that I had to give my credit card number and if I didn’t call them to cancel, they were going to start sending me a new supply of the product every month, and charge me for it.  I usually avoid things like this, but this was an interesting concept.  It was a pre-workout supplement that came in the form of a tablet, rather than a powder that had to be mixed with water.  I got my trial sample and of course, forgot to cancel before the first non-free one arrived.  I actually liked the product, but it was significantly more expensive than the powder alternatives.  Admittedly, however, I had found that the product was great for when I was traveling and didn’t want to have to mix something with water.  I actually kept it going for a few months to save some supply just for that purpose.  Once I had a couple months’ worth, I was ready to cancel.  Their phone number appeared on my credit card statement, so it was easy to find.  When I called, the agent on the phone asked me why I was cancelling.  I gave her my exact reasons.  I liked the product, especially for traveling, but I thought it was too expensive and even if it wasn’t too expensive, I was getting more of it than I could use.  She actually listened and obviously the management of this service center had ensured that they were prepared for these kinds of “objections” to continued purchase of their product.   First, she offered to lower the price of the product by 25% for me.  I told her that would help some, but that I didn’t need to get a 30 day supply every month…in fact that I already had two months’ supply saved up.  She suggested that they go ahead and take me off the monthly subscription.  This might be perceived as a failure, however, there was no way that they were going to convince me to continue that, so it was really good customer service.  However, she also secured my next order for another 30 day supply two months down the road.  We agreed on a date, she said I’d get it automatically at the discounted price, and from then on, I could just order it whenever I wanted.  So, they may have lost me as a subscription customer, but they got at least one more ordered…and I am pretty sure I will be ordering again, based on the way the whole thing was handled.

Preparing your agents for whatever objections or reasons for cancelling a service is critical to customer retention, but that’s only part of it.  Equipping them with the right tools and giving them the leverage to use them according to their best judgment is the best way to leverage those opportunities to keep customers, at least in some capacity.  Finally, ensuring that they are trained to listen and provide good customer service along the way will help them seal the deal whenever a customer or sale is still able to be saved.

Usually when I write about an experience like this that’s entirely positive, I like to mention the name of the company.  In this case I won’t, at least for now, because I’m not sure if they want all their customers to call them asking for a 25% discount!