Customer Experience Gone Bad
Making your customers feel guilty is not a good strategy. Granted, I am prone to guilt. I feel guilty going through customs even when I haven’t bought anything. So I didn’t need Verizon to make my recent shopping trip into a blame-fest. But every bad experience is an opportunity to learn. And I learned first hand how incentive programs shape behavior for good or for bad. In the case of Verizon, it was bad.
It started out good. Great visit to the Verizon store where I was introduced to Verizon Home Phone Connect. This is a great option for getting a portable landline experience at a reasonable cost.
Here is the bad. The Verizon sales people made me feel like an adulteress.
I had the audacity to make a purchase from a different sales person than the woman who introduced me to Home Phone Connect. I tried to be faithful to Sales Person #1, I really did. I tried calling the number on her business card but it was an automated system with many prompts. I looked for her when I went to the store for the second time. I really, really did. But adopting the “love the one you’re with” philosophy, I quickly got entrenched with Sales Person #2.
Long story short, Sales Person #1 appeared as I wrapped things up with Sales Person #2. She looked at me with a hangdog face and said she wishes I had waited for her. Then the Manager came over. All these guilty feelings crowded out my delight at having found a cool technical solution.
As I was slinking guiltily back to my office, long repressed memories came flooding back. This had all happened before: different Verizon store in a different state but same shameful story. I was in fact, a serial telephonic adulteress. But in earlier instance, the sales people broke into a verbal argument that required management intervention. All I wanted was a phone charger for my car.
So it doesn’t take a genius (or even a serial telephonic adulteress) to figure out that Verizon sales people are on commission. So it shouldn’t be a great leap of imagination for Verizon leadership to see how this competitive commission system creates a very unpleasant customer experience.
My blog primarily focuses on how Pharma can learn from marketing practices outside the industry. However, this is a case where Verizon can learn from some of the Pharma innovators like GSK, which rocked the industry last December by removing prescription based sales incentives.
In the past, I wonder how many doctors were made to feel like adulterers (or maybe just “uncomfortable”), when Reps came in with data showing that the HCP had “cheated” on the Rep by prescribing another company’s medication.
No company ever changes “just because.” It took years of image draining scandals and unimaginably high penalties to prompt GSK to change its ways. Not sure what it will take in the case of Verizon. Perhaps headlines like “Verizon sales person shot dead by jealous associate over phone charger.” However I am sure if GSK CEO Andrew Witty could advise Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, Witty would tell him it is preferable to avoid the headlines in the first place.
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