When a 'Win-Back' Offer Is an Insult

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Sometimes the strategy of trying to keep customers from defecting to a rival by proffering a lower price can backfire.

Case in point: Gail Ahlers, whose four-person company Ahlers Designs in Pawtucket, R.I.,  designs custom gifts, was looking to trim her monthly telecommunications bill from Verizon.

Ahlers, whom I met yesterday prior to Multichannel News’ Wonder Women 2009 event, looked at Vonage but from asking around with other businesses in her building had heard receiving faxes was dicey. (The company relies on fax-submitted orders.)

She also looked at Cox’s business services, and entered a CTAM-sponsored contest for women business owners — winning the grand prize of 12 months of free voice, video and data from Cox.

So yeah, of course she’s thrilled with Cox. You can’t beat free. But after she disconnected from Verizon, the telco attempted to win back her business, offering her a special rate that would be in the ballpark of what she will pay to Cox.

Ahlers was not terribly impressed. Her thought was: Where were you all those years when I was paying top dollar? With the new services from Cox, too, she was getting new features — as basic as caller ID — which Verizon might have been able to offer but never did.

As Kristine Faulkner, Cox Business vice president of product development and management, noted: “Responsiveness to small customers has not been an area the telcos have focused on.”

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