I have been a satisfied customer of SBC (now at&t) Yahoo DSL service for over a year now. I would not say that I have loved the service, but I am content. It does the job, and that is enough. I realize that there are better providers in terms of speed, but I like the convenience of having my phone and Internet on one bill. Beyond that, with no cable television – or satellite, it is the best price for what I need. I would have no reason to switch away from SBC assuming all things remained consistent. It would not take much effort for SBC to obtain this information about me and keep me happy. Therefore I was very frustrated last week when this letter SBC YAHOO.pdf from SBC Yahoo showed up in my mailbox. The letter stated that my introductory period was ending, and now to celebrate my anniversary the price would be going up by about 50%. Hooray for me! Now, as introductory offers go, I understand. I signed up for a year of service, and had negotiated a rate for that period. This would be changing to a month to month option, thus they could theoretically justify the higher charge. Here is the problem with the letter, I am willing to sign up for another year. I am happy with what I have. Nowhere in the letter does it reference the ability to continue my current agreement. In fact, there is no phone number listed in the letter, no e-mail address, no web url, no nothing except for the name and signature of someone in the marketing department. In other words, this was an invitation for me to shop around. What was worse is that they now offer better service for a lower price, but nowhere was this mentioned in the letter. Why would you send this letter to your existing customers? This was the perfect opportunity to use a relevant piece of communication to generate more revenue for SBC. I managed to get on the web and with much effort, found a contact number for SBC Yahoo. I went through a list of options until I was connected with a great customer service representative. She was very nice and very helpful. The kind of customer service representative that could be empowered to generate revenue. She informed me that my contract would expire in May, but that I could go to the web on my own and renew my service. She even informed me that I could save $2.00 per month, and get a better connection package. I asked her, "Is that something you can handle right now?" Her reply was a frustrated "No, I am sorry." "They don't let us do that for you." It was obvious she wanted to help, but was not empowered to do it. Again an invitation to shop. I did appreciate her suggestion, and I will likely renew my service with the better SBC package. I would speculate that many in my situation might opt to go elsewhere. Especially with the deluge of competitive offers available. While I am probably not switching, it does not change the fact that this was a blown opportunity for SBC. How great would it have been to open a letter that said something like:
Mr. Bowman, we would like to thank you for your business by lowering your bill and improving your Internet package if you renew your contract with SBC Yahoo DSL. Additionally, if you would like to choose a more flexible option for your service, we also offer monthly service rates. Here is a web link you can visit for more details and to sign up (www.—–), and here is my phone number (555) 555-1212. Call me directly if you have any questions. We value your business, and want to make it easy for you to remain a satisfied customer of SBC Yahoo. Also, if you refer a family or friend to SBC Yahoo DSL, we will offer you an additional month of service absolutely free! Thank you again for your business.
I would have been so excited to receive such news that I would have put the letter on my blog talking about how wonderful it was. I would have done my best to tell others about this great experience. I could have been an evangelist for SBC, instead I am just staying with them out of convenience. They could have generated huge word of mouth, instead they got a luke-warm customer who is staying just because it is cheaper than the cable company. SBC Yahoo, If you are looking for some help with your marketing materials, I am looking for a job. Contact me. Consider this a freebie.