Towards the end of a flight from Kansas City to New Orleans, an attendant handed me a flyer with information about a credit card program. signing up for this, I would get 50,000 frequent flyer miles? So, I signed up for the AAdvantage American Airlines Citi Card. I just finished college and had started my first job, and as naive as I was with this being my first credit card, I knew enough to know never to miss a credit card payment.
I glanced at the fine-print terms; In addition to 50,000 frequent flyer miles, they gave 1% cash back, and had no annual fee for the first year, etc. The catch was a $95 yearly fee, after the first year. I figured I would cancel my account before the year was up, and by then would have already used my 50,000 free Frequent Flyer miles.
About a year later,
I figured I would go ahead and cancel my card to avoid the yearly fee, during the second year term. I got online, paid the monthly statement as usual, and ended up on the customer service website to cancel the card. There was a feature to chat with somebody, so I clicked to chat and was immediately connected with service rep named Malcolm. As we started the online chat, I started off by saying “I’d like to close my account” – he then kindly asked me why, and I wrote back “yearly fee”.
I’m sure Malcolm was trained to respond with the various other options that Citi had… he told me about them, but I just wanted to make sure I could cancel at this point. I simply repeated my question, “what is the process like to cancel?”
Malcolm gave me instructions to cancel, and then mentioned again that Citi valued me as a customer and had options that might better suit my needs. He told me a bit about the cards that offer cash back, with no fees. I was appreciative of the instructions, and intrigued with the other options that Citi has available.
Malcolm gave me the number to the Citi Credit Card 24/7 line, and I was quickly able to connect with a service rep, Dee-Ann. I told her my situation. She mentioned that if I closed my account, I might lose some of the Frequent Flyer miles that I still had saved up. I preferred to not. But I didn’t want the yearly fee. “That’s fine”, I said. Dee-Ann went on to explain that, if I decided not to cancel, they would be able to offer me a $95 credit to my account, essentially making up for the $95 yearly fee. She then went on the say that, once my account hit the official 1-year mark since being opened, I’d be able to switch over to a Citi Card that did NOT have a yearly fee. I’d also get to keep my Frequent Flyer miles, and maintain the same credit limit.
Exactly what I was looking for, all in one solid offer.
After the polite exchanges with both Dee-Ann as well as Malcolm, I *figured I would continue to be a Citi Bank credit card customer. I also *figure I could use the extra line of credit anyways, in case of emergency.
Recap: How they kept a customer:
1. Understand Customers
Both Malcolm and Dee-Ann took the time to understand my needs. I needed to maintain a line of credit, with no yearly fee, and wanted save my small amount of FF miles remaining. The solution they presented me solved all of these issues.
2. Invest in Customers
Had they not offered me a $95 credit, I would have cancelled out of principle. I mean there are just so many other credit card providers to choose from – why would I pay someone to be their customer? When offering a small $95 credit to make up for the yearly fee I’d be paying them, they got to keep a longer term customer. The value that I’ll likely bring them over the next months and years will make up that small credit in no time.
3. Quick Response Time
I was connected virtually instantly with Malcolm via chat, and only had to input minimal information on the automated phone system prior to being connected with Dee-Ann when I called in. Had I been forced to wait a long time or be placed on HOLD, I likely would have been too frustrated to even consider another offer with Citi bank.
Great customer service might just help your customers figure they want to keep being your customer. Everyone makes many small decisions everyday. Some of those decisions involve choosing who we work with. When choosing something like who to use as a credit card provider, those decisions are often based out of necessity, convenience, and finally, what feels right. Give your customers a true positive experience that meshes with their apparent needs, as well as unspoken desires and they will love you forever.