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Church, loyalty, customer satisfaction

December 15, 2008

My parents have been deliberating over upgrading their cellphones and renewing their plans, and they have enlisted me to help them research.

They have Sprint, and have had Sprint for several years. But they aren’t necessarily happy — really, they are disgruntled even though they’ve been customers for 4 years. For them, Sprint’s customer service is uncooperative and insulting, and beyond that, Sprint has dropped calls!

Sprint knows that they have had a reputation of having the worst customer service. And that’s why they’ve gotten their leadership to reorient the company with simpler pricing structures for plans and better service.

But did things improve?

But did things improve?

I have tried to research family plans, phones, services…I’ve never looked at plans for the whole family before. It’s not as easy as I’d like. I wanted to compare the major carriers (since they were unhappy enough to consider switching), but by the time I went through looking at Sprint and AT&T’s options (each convoluted in its own way), I gave up on going through Verizon and T-Mobile.

What intrigues me is our gameplan. My mother, my father, and I are going to conference call a Sprint representative when we are ready to draft a purchase plan. Why have three people? My parents the advantage in negotiations, and they need me to make sure they aren’t getting a bad deal.

I have to wonder how things got this way. I have to wonder why it is necessary to have three people weed through plans and phones and prices and avoid getting snubbed. Why is it necessary to call multiple service representatives to get something done? These problems drag Sprint down, and the worst part is that Sprint actually has decent products. They have decent phones and some sweet plans.

But if you didn’t know or hadn’t figured it out yet, Sprint has had millions of its customers churn to other carriers. This is devastating — businesses recognize that it is better to keep a customer than to go for a new one because the longer a customer stays, the more value he brings. So for customers to get so frustrated and leave represents decay and death to a business. Even if the business gets a new customer to replace.

So, Sprint’s strategy has been to fix the wound in customer satisfaction. They know where they should go — it’s wherever the wheel squeaks most and wherever most customers are dissatisfied. If Sprint were to decide to do anything else, they’d be allowing themselves to continue to bleed. And that’s what Sprint has been attempting to do.

So much for Sprint. The real thing I was thinking about was…how does the church operate?

It’s much different, of course. The church loves to publish baptism or member rates, which show the rate new customers or *total* subscribers are won, but the church isn’t so keen on churn rates. They aren’t so keen on publishing inactivity rates either. And if you have problems with the church, the church won’t restructure itself to try to retain you. Of course not; you’re liable to have all the blame put solely on yourself. It is you who is not in accordance with the Gospel, after all. It is you who needs to adhere to the basics better.

Of course, however like a business the church may appear, it’s not. And because it’s not, it doesn’t have the same requirements or performance metrics that a business would have. I guess this should be obvious, but the church, because it claims to be a moral foundation, doesn’t need to change for anyone. If people want to leave it, they are leaving the fountain of morality and are not “sticking it to the church.”

Maybe the church is doing better business than I think…maybe they recognize the secret that poor customer service can create real value


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