In my last two blog posts, I had given notice that I was moving my company web-site, then gave notice that I wasn’t. I didn’t end up achieving the final step due to issues with customer service.

I was moving the web-site based on a recommendation from my webmaster that I could save money on the hosting of my web-site and get about the same service. And, in fact, he had had many good experiences with the hosting service he was recommending. Yet, after all the backup of files, copying of files, calling one host then the other, what would have been the new host couldn’t find my record. Even though I had paid for the service, begun the registration process and all the other forms that were required, they couldn’t find my record. In fact, the support person I ended up in contact with actually had no idea how to resolve the situation and, in the end, I said I was giving up and asking for a refund (which I still haven’t received, so, yes, I paid for the service that I won’t be using).

I don’t regret trying this, especially since my current host ended up offering me a good discount to stay with them, In the end, I did get something out of it. However, it occurred to me that this is one of the reasons customers won’t switch.

Along the way, those of us providing services run into customers who are getting terrible service, can’t get their projects finished, and are generally having a terrible time. In some cases, they’re traumatized by the terrible situation that they’re in. Yet, when you tell them how much better you could do for them and suggest they switch, they refuse to make a move. Often, they’ll say things like, “But, at least I know what I have.” Even though we might think or even know that it probably can’t possibly be any worse than what they’re going through, there’s no way to convince them. They’re truly afraid of the fact that it could actually be worse and they won’t make the switch. Fear prevents them.

In fact, I remember speaking with a customer who told me that they knew their project wouldn’t provide anything useful and wouldn’t finish, but they were still afraid to switch services vendors. Think of that – if you knew you were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and would get nothing out of it, and that you would have to probably answer to your users and management over this, would you still dig your heels in and keep what you have? Well, hard as it might be to understand it, you might. Fear is a powerful tool.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

3 Thoughts to “One Reason Why Customers Don’t Switch”

  1. Dave Deschere

    So often the cost of the transition – including the disruption of “other productive things I could be doing” and the risk of failure – trumps the anticipated savings and benefits that result on the other side. And so rarely does the payoff match “the demo”. I might have believed that at 23; I rarely do at 53.

    And one of my axioms for service providers: The salesman gets the first sale, the support guy gets all the rest.

    1. That’s a good point – once the project is done and the support contract kicks-in, the support (or lack of it) sometimes creates a different situation. Even if the implementation was a total nightmare, it doesn’t mean that support will be bad. In many companies, implementation people and support people are separate.

  2. I agree with Dave 200% and more. In my own life, I purchase a lot of services and I planned at an early stage for failure on each and every service contract. I have set my expectations down to the level of expecting good service from the post office and that is at rock bottom.

    Since I expect failure and replacement of service providers, I engineer my operational systems so that I am not dependent on any one provider. This is costly but it allows me to switch providers without hardly a thought. Think of it as RAID level 5 for service providers.

    In order to accomplish this, the consumer of services must take on full responsibility for success and failure. It does you absolutely no good to blame your service provider because they suck. You have to take ownership of the services and direct them and hedge the services with alternatives. Again, this is expensive but it puts you in control and I have found that failures are much more expensive than the insurance premium to hedge against the failure.

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