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I’m a major consumer of written material.  Most if it comes in the form of books.  I’m probably in the top 1% of readers in the country.  I assume this makes me a very valuable bookstore customer.

A couple of years ago I had book discount memberships at two large bookstores.  I decided that I really didn’t need to have two and only wanted one.

I called up the store I wanted to cancel my membership with as was given a run around.  Instead of just gracefully cancelling the card, this store made me spend 45 minutes on the phone going through a litany of stupid actions before they would cancel my membership.

When I asked them why they were making me do this they told it me, “it was for my own protection.”  My question was protection from what; I want to cancel my membership.  No reaction on the other end of the line.   Finally I got through with their stupid procedures and had my card cancelled.

Here’s where the problem is.

I was talking with my wife today about getting an electronic reader for someone.  She asked me why I didn’t get one from the store I cancelled my membership with.  My response was I’m still annoyed at the way they handled my membership cancellation and don’t want to do business with them.

On reflection, I realized I haven’t been in their store or bought anything from them since my less than satisfactory customer experience.  This probably has cost them several thousand dollars in potential books sales they could have had.

The moral of the story.

When a customer wants to leave your business, help them do so gracefully.  It’s fine to ask them why they’re leaving, but after that you’re just setting up an unhappy memory that is likely to keep them from ever doing business with you again.

None of us likes to lose.  But, sometimes it’s a better road than making yourself obnoxious trying to hold the business.

Have you ever thought about your method for helping clients leave your company?  We all lose customers.  Sometimes you can tell more about a company when they lose a customer than when they gain one.

Josh Patrick

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Topics: enterprise value, Client Experience, Customer Service

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