Back in the ’90’s, hard-sell “customer retention” schemes started to pop up. They were the brainchild of the telecom industry, and were designed to reduce customer “churn.” The concept, basically, is this:
When a customer wants to discontinue a service, they’reforced to jumpthrough a series of hoops, and then finally funnelled into a ‘customer retention’ department who force the customer to endure one last hard sell before they finally give up. The success rate of these schemes can vary anywhere between 5% and 15% – more than enough to justify the efforts.
The practice spread to other industries, like banking,insurance,fitness clubs, lawn care – and as the new Millennium rolled around – a myriad of internet-based businesses. Fortunately for customers, most companies eventually did the math, and realized that the long-term negative consequences of further annoying the 85%-90% of departing customers was far greaterthan theshort-term benefits.
Unfortunately, however, there are still many companies clinging to this archaic business model – including most telecoms, and, as I discovered yesterday, the AntiVirus software developer, BitDefender.
We had purchased a couple of licenses for BitDefender for our office, to test out and see how it compared to the other anti-virus programs we were using. After a year, and a few annoying incidents, we elected to uninstall it and replace it with a different product. Over the weekend, we received an email advising us of an upcoming’autorenewal’ of our BitDefender license. I went on the site to disable the auto-renewal, and found myself being put through a maze of ill-conceived “customer retention” roadblocks and stalls.
The result is that we are now parting company on far worse terms than we would have if they had just kept it simple. The odds of us ever going back to BitDefender now? Pretty close to zero. How is this a good thing?