How to lose customers and win enemies / The Vodafone case

I'm sure we've all had good and bad experiences with brands. In my early advertising, the agency J. Walter Thompson, that taught me almost everything that I know about brands, proposed in his “Strategic Tool Kit” deeply analyze the buying process of a product or service to detect the appropriate time to communicate.

If we look at the process of buying a Car, we'll see that this is a complete and complex process that can last up to six months:

  1. The need is created. I have to get around and public transport doesn't fit my needs. In addition, I'm of legal age, I have a driving licence and sufficient income or savings to take the step.
  2. Search. Is sensitive to car advertisements. Do not you looked before, now you're looking at them thoroughly. You look at all the options. Questions to acquaintances, Friends, Family.
  3. Comparison. There are already elements of comparison. Sizes, Powers, Consumption, Prices. New, of the occasion. Today the internet allows real-time comparisons on the same specialized website.
  4. Test. Not all products or services allow pre-purchase testing (one litre of milk, For example), But a car does. With our “short list” we ask to test the 3 vehicles chosen in the comparison phase.
  5. Decision. We decided on one, but first you still have to check forms of payment, Credit, Leasing, renting, Facilities, associated insurance, must-have accessories, Guarantees…
  6. Purchase. Once everything has been smeated and the funding was made, we make the order to the commercial manager of the chosen brand. Car delivery, if it's not in stock, it can take up to 3 Months (or more in case of luxury vehicles).
  7. Experience and repetition. This is a key phase, because if the shopping experience, use and after-sales are positive, there will be a purchase per replenishment. This has happened to me, For example, when I came to repeat with three models of the same brand without thinking. The Loyalty it's a fundamental axis here, and car brands have improved a lot of integers in recent years. The deal, meeting deadlines, efficiency in maintenance and repairs, the operation of the vehicle, everything influences the shopping and user experience.

But, What about buying a Ice cream Conventional? What is your purchase process?. Is Impulsive. Most of the time the need does not exist. It simply passes next to an ice cream kiosk, it's kind of hot, And, without more, you buy. Repetition with the same mark will not be very relevant, what's relevant here will be to find outlets. If a brand is very well distributed, you'll have more options. That simple. Communication has to be “on the street”, as close as possible to the point of sale and packaging is key.

Fidelity is relative in case of ice cream, because it depends a lot on the distribution. In terms of qualities, let's assume that manufacturers have reached similar standards.

The Vodafone case

te hacen sudar sangre
make you sweat blood

After a very negative experience with Telefónica / Movistar, full of coverage issues (in central locations of a big city), outages in case of ADSL… I decided a few years ago by Vodafone. There were not many other options in Spain.

What has been the purchasing system with this brand?

  • Need: For sheer Survival, needed an operator to cover the office where he worked. Vodafone had it.
  • Search. There were no options. The other carriers did not offer mobile coverage.
  • Comparison: It wasn't necessary..
  • Test. It was found that, Effectively, a company professional whose mobile phone was operated by Vodafone offered the necessary coverage.
  • Decision: Was Fast, just a few minutes. The price factor was not relevant
  • Purchase. A somewhat more process Slow, but effective after all.
  • Experience and repetition. Here is a look-at very frequent phenomenon occurs- of the progressive destruction of fidelity:
    • At first everything becomes easy, Discounts, Gifts (even if it wasn't the reason for the election)
    • From the first year, incomprehensibly the bill increases an average of the 20%.
    • Customer service becomes a unbearable experience, with unheard-of waits and dialogues with robots. Operators who live in another country and don't understand your words, interruptions of communication and start-up.
    • The second year, third and fourth continues the destructive phase. Invoices start to see blunders, nonexistent lines, services that we unsubscribed from but are still charging… A suffering. Resolving a phone inquiry with Vodafone takes up a minimum of 30 Minutes (hopefully). As if that weren't enough, at the end they ask you to value a satisfaction survey. More time.
    • When you're wearing 5 Years, you think you Fidelity (I would call it masochism) will be rewarded. And yes, you effectively get a call, this time someone you understand perfectly the voice, the accent… and informs you that because they are faithful they will send you no cost a Iphone + three other minor phones. Gee! It fills your face with joy and you think … Well, after all this suffering I finally get the Prize.
    • You agree, you say OK, that if you want you can save the three small phones, But no, the full pack is the offer. You get them at home. Great Joy.
    • The next day you get a bill of $180 for having purchased the phones How? Wasn't it free? You're getting valuable weapons to call and claim, but then your rational side tells you “Maybe it's not so bad to have received an iPhone for only $180.”. You don't call. Swallow. You've already been snuck in for something you haven't asked for..
    • After one year, and after endless problems with bills, with no-nexistent consumption, nonexistent lines and major headaches, it's time to make the big decision: I'm going to leave Vodafone.
    • It's only taken me two months and 23 long-term calls leave it, But I'm already free!. What happened is that the loyalty promotion I mentioned before carried a secret clause (not communicated by phone or in writing) for which I accepted a remained eternal, renewables automatically year after year if I didn't warn 3 months in advance. How am I going to warn of something I don't know?. Well, that clause cost me an extra cost of 1,000 euros, i.e. 250 euros per line contracted.
    • After various useless efforts and calls in vain, I decided to denounce. But it's time and money, things that are scarce. So I went back to build value and called to announce my complaint. Surprisingly, After 1 hour on the phone was put a lady who gave me the reason and withdrew the clause. Unfortunately, the company's computer system has gaps, so after this “epic achievement” they kept calling me to claim money for the stay.
    • I've switched to Orange. I know. It'll be more of the same.. But there's something I like: your phone service is serviced by robots. Better a robot than a useless human, No?. I have had such a good experience with the store clerks that now, when I need something, I go to the store. They treat me like a king. For now, Of course. We'll see how long this happiness lasts.
    • I've passed to pay almost $400 per month at just under $100 with Orange. Amazing. Good savings for more efficient service with better coverage.
    • The best? Vodafone made me a Counteroffer so I wouldn't leave: The four lines for 65 euros a month. That's unbelievable.! Why the hell didn't they make me the offer before I left.? I infer I've been stealing more than $300 a month for 7 Years. Of course they could give me an iPhone, were going to spare.

Well, the nightmare is over. Don't you find it curious that a company as important as Vodafone punish fidelity this way?

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About me Guillem Recolons

Convinced that everything leaves a mark, I help companies better connect with their stakeholders through personal branding programs (personal brand management) and employee advocacy (programs of branded internal ambassadors).

Soymimarca Partner, Integrates Personal Branding and The Human Branding, I also collaborate with Ponte en Valor, Brandergizers, MoreThanLaw, Noema Consulting, AdQualis and QUIFER Consultants.

I participate in various programs at IESE, ISDI and EAE, UPF's Social Media Graduate and UVIC, among others. Collegiate advertising, Master in Marketing. Humanities Degree Student.

My advertising DNA comes from 20 years in agencies: Time/BBDO, J.W.T., Bassat Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, Altraforma and TVLowCost among others.

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