Three examples from this weekend have me perplexed. #EDF. #Orange and #Land Rover.

Why perplexed? Because they break all the rules of “good” and yet I haven’t moved.

Let’s take EDF. Every now and then I have to do something because they keep bumping my direct debit up. I try to use web self service, it doesn’t recognise me, it doesn’t recognise my secret answers so I have to phone them. The voice recognition doesn’t recognise me and the member of staff doesn’t recognise my problem. I feel like we’re at opposite ends of a tunnel shouting to each other, drowned by the echoes and the dark.

Eventually I decipher how much money they owe me and they say give us a meter reading and we’ll consider giving you your money back. The self serve IVR for billing doesn’t work and I call them to give them a reading. They’ll probably say when we’ve given you a bill you can try again and we go round the loop once more as time elapses.

In all the process is so painful that I can’t get through it in time. And several years later, they are still getting my money. It’s called retention.

I once tried moving. To a new entrant with a new approach. But the offer was to match my current tariff and I had to fill in forms in pdf files that don’t let you edit….. Gave up.

Orange provide my other half’s broadband. It’s so slow that booking a flight can be impossible as pages time out before they load. She’s tearing her hair out so I tried. It was interesting.

The line speed is apparently 160k, a speed we can only dream of, we’d be happy with 16k. But luckily this was a problem since we’re paying for so and so megabytes. The router’s been replaced free of charge and doesn’t work at all. So I’m asked to take the cover off the socket and look inside – it isn’t what they expect so I’m expected to put it back and wait 2 or 3 hours for a magic moment to occur – I decline and ask for escalation. Escalation is apparently switching it off and on and waiting 24 hours. I decline. So it’s now escalated to become a fault and someone will ring back within 24 hours. That’s progress…..

No point changing though – out in the country the exchanges are all BT equipped only. That’s retention.

Land Rover is a funny one. I bought a nearly new expensive car. Sorry I can’t resist, I’m a petrol head. It went back in 3 times in the first week. It would have been 4 except the time it didn’t start we were parked in the Eurotunnel train about to enter France. Happy. Not.

Believe it or not this has happened before and the same dealer took it back and I bought elsewhere that time. They’ve taken the car back. Yet I just gave them an order for a new one. At a price. Admittedly they tried really hard to put things right and were suitably “bovvered”. Product over experience. That’s retention.

So what’s my point? Retention is complex. I’m the lazy customer, frustrated customer, daft customer all at the same time. Retention is important at every step – but barriers to change matter too. Can bad design of switch processes overcome desire to switch? Can product overcome experiences? Discuss


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