The Wall Street Journal showed up in my driveway today. This shouldn’t have been a surprise, since I’m a long-time home delivery subscriber. But it was a surprise because I cancelled my subscription last week, following a six-week saga of missed deliveries, lame excuses and indifferent customer services representatives.
Here’s how The Wall Street Journal lost a 20-year customer through poor service and impersonal customer relations — and seven tips about customer retention for your smart marketing strategy.
“I apologize for the inconvenience.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently cut home delivery to four days a week. The Plain Dealer carriers also handled delivery of The Wall Street Journal to some subscribers (including me), so the Journal had to find a new carrier. The Journal sent an email a few days ahead of time to alert me to the upcoming carrier change. But something went wrong and my home delivery stopped altogether.
After a few days, I notified the Journal. They apologized and said they were working on a solution. They suggested I read the paper online in the meantime and offered me 30 days of free online access (although I already had online access).
Weeks went by. Delivery did not resume and my frustration grew. I did live chats online with their service team about once a week to alert them to the unresolved problem, ask for credit for undelivered papers and learn the status of the situation. “We’re working on the problem” was the standard response. No one could tell me when my service would resume.
Finally, one representative estimated service would resume in four to six weeks. But by then, I’d already had enough. Even more important, I’d stopped missing the Journal. It was no longer a “must read” part of my day.
I called to cancel and a phone representative handled the transaction efficiently. But she didn’t do three important things that might have saved the customer relationship: try to get me to change my mind, offer a solution that would satisfy my concerns or express any regret at losing a 20-year customer.