The Issue With Value – When Less Is More!

Recently, I bought a new smartphone. Not because I wanted the latest and greatest, but because mine was over three years old and the battery had started to suffer. I called my provider to upgrade the phone and was connected to the sales team.

After reviewing my contract, I asked for the options and explained I wanted the same type of phone, a little larger would be nice, but no 5G. Within a few minutes the deal was done and for a very reasonable price. It would be delivered in 2-3 days.

I was a happy customer–until they wanted to “add value”

As a premium customer, the person on the phone wanted to add value to the deal. They pointed out that a recent mail I had apparently missed, offered a coupon that would reduce protective case purchase by 10 percent. Nice! No reason to decline the offer, and so the story begins.

I was excited to receive my new handset in the coming days and wanted to order a protective case.

On the website, I selected my new phone-type and equipment category, browsed through the options, found the right case and put it in my basket. However, upon entering the coupon code it displayed “This coupon cannot be used for this product.” Now, that’s exactly what I wanted to hear. The happy customer mood changed to a worried customer mood.

Customer support wanted to “add value” instead of fixing the problem

Easy fix, or so I assumed, as I connected to the live chat function to explain the issue.

Having verified myself and connecting to a chat partner, I asked them to fix the coupon issue. This is where the added-value language began, again.

As soon as he realized my customer level and that I didn’t use all the features of my contract, his focus switched from fixing my problem, to hooking me into other services.

He suggested activating my Disney+ offer for three months for free. I said, thanks a lot, but I am not interested in this offer, I’d just be happy if you could fix the coupon issue.

Then, he went on to the next premium customer offer, a special TV offer. Those of you who know me, know that I spent almost zero time in front of any TV service, paid or not. “no thanks, please just take care of the issue I contacted you for”.

He proceeded to offer a third item.

Redirecting the focus on the issue to be solved

I explained that all these offers wouldn’t mean anything to me–in other words–that these offers aren’t valuable for me which is why I don’t want them now, and why I didn’t want them before.

I redirected his attention back to the coupon code, to the reason why I contacted the customer service in the first place.

Silence on the chat.

He could no longer avoid resolving my issue, the one thing that would have been valuable to me. He started to explain that all the terms would be defined on the coupon. I said, yes, I know, and meet all of these criteria, such as the specific link for the online shop, the product category, and me as being eligible for this coupon that is still valid.

Silence on the chat.

It didn’t end well, and he was unable to help with the coupon, which he explained was a technical issue and out of his control. Furthermore, nobody had the answer as to why the problem occurred or how it could be resolved.

I went from happy to unhappy customer mood with a bunch of unrelated “added value offers” that didn’t mean anything to me. So, where exactly did it go so wrong?

The issue with value- a lack of discovery combined with a “value-push” mode

Overall, the biggest challenge here was the total lack of discovery. The customer support person did not conduct any form of discovery to understand what I value. He was immediately into “value-push” mode, or “value-actionitis” as we like to call it. “Actionitis” is when you are so focused on meaningless activity that you actually miss the point.

This situation could have been easily avoided. He could have said “I see that you are a premium customer and with us for a long time. I’m wondering why you are not participating in special offers we offer especially for our best clients only. Were you even aware of these offers?” This way, I would have said, “yes, thank you. I know about these offers, but they don’t mean anything to me. I am fine. I really just want you to fix the coupon issue.”

Learning from real-live customer experience challenges

Now, let’s go into the follow-up challenges and what we can learn from those.

  • Respect what’s valuable for your customers and focus on THEIR preferences first:
    In this example, I explained, my preferences on three separate occasions. It was already clear for sales what my preferences were, but this information was not available, or perhaps ignored, for customer service and support.
  • When it comes to value, the customers’ perspectives matter:
    Yes, there are premium customers that are easy to handle and satisfy. Just don’t get in their way with things that distract, add no value for them or simply don’t work. And if something doesn’t work, fix it. Simply fix it. Never let them down. The worst outcome is not to be able to solve their simplest ask, as my example shows. And that leads to the next principle.
  • Ensure that there is always an escalation procedure:
    Your customer support always needs an easy to access escalation mechanism so they can resolve issues right away. Another example. As I recently had an issue with a campaign code when shopping supplements for my eyes, I had a quick chat with customer support. They could solve the issue in less than five minutes. Amazing experience. It’s always HOW you handle those challenges.
  • Seamless sales and service process integration along the customer journey:
    Finally, and that’s the foundation for sales and service success. A seamless integration of your selling and service processes. And they can only be successful if they are mapped and connected to your customer’s journey. We call this an integrated buyer/seller framework as your foundation. In my example, the customer service should have known about my preferences from the sales process and the data in the CRM.

When it comes to customer value, it is what they find valuable that matters and this is unique to each person, buyer committee and organization. Ensure transparency and don’t throw more “value” to customers that are already happy.

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Image source: Adobe Stock