Customers aren’t expendable (or at least, they shouldn’t be)

business and consumers

A bit under a week ago, I signed up for an online music service that — for some personal reasons — I’ll nickname “Tonality.” Just as my trial was up, I decided to quit before being charged, mostly because I’m already a paying user of competing services. One can only listen to so much music… 😉

But my personal situation is really beside the point. The real issue here is…

…Tonality’s surprising lack of connection with their customers.

When I quit, I received simply a terse e-mail acknowledgement of my cancellation, which actually speaks volumes. What I had expected to read was something like the following:

Dear Adam,

We’d like to thank you for trying Tonality, and we’re sorry to see you go! We care a great deal about providing a service that is an excellent value to our members and respects artists at the same time, and we’d love to hear your feedback.

Per your request, your subscription has been cancelled, effective [date], and you will not be billed. In the meantime, please do consider answering a few short questions to help us improve Tonality, or — if you’d prefer — simply reply to this note with any comments or concerns you may have about the service.

Thanks again for giving Tonality a try!

Sincerely,
[actual person’s name]
Customer Satisfaction Director, Tonality

What is so special about my proposed ‘goodbye’ e-mail?

1) It confirms that the account has been cancelled and that billing will be halted.
2) It notes that the company doesn’t take its customers for granted.
3) It conveys the impression that the company actually cares about improving the service.
4) It encourages and enables (former) customers to offer what may be quite useful feedback.

And speaking of feedback, should it be any surprise that Tonality provides no discernible options on its Web site for current or former customers to offer suggestions or give bug reports? It’s as if Tonality — and far too many companies like it — are petrified of their customers. Either that or, old-AOL-style, they figure “who gives a whit… there are millions more where he or she came from!”

* * *

In fact, it’s still amazing to me just incredibly thoughtless most companies are nowadays. For instance, as a job seeker I’ve been stunned to often not even receive auto-acknowledgements when I submit a thoughtful cover letter and r?sum? (see more of my HR rants here).

It takes just a few moments for companies to offer at least minor courtesies to one’s customers, partners, and potential employees. And on the flip side, it takes just a few instances of callousness or cluelessness to have one’s brand irreparably tarnished. Given the millions of dollars companies are willing to spend on brand managers and lawyers to maintain brand equity, it’s shocking that they can so blithely overlook the ‘small’ things that matter.

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