I heard a great story today that highlights this issue brilliantly.
A bank customer got a replacement credit card in the mail, with instructions to call to activate the card. After working through the automated process, the customer was asked to "hold for an agent". So they did hold. And hold, and hold, for quite a while.
When the agent came on the line, they said they wanted to tell the customer about their balance protection insurance. The customer said: 'This is a sales pitch!'. 'No, no, this isn't a sales pitch', claimed the bank employee. Customer indicated all he wanted to do was activate the card. Employee advised that the card was active after the automated procedure was complete.
This little interaction damaged customer equity, didn't it? It's so obvious. And easy to fix.
Either stop doing it altogether, or tell the customer in the recording, "Your card is now active. If you would like to hear about balance protection insurance, please stay on the line for an agent".
Holding your busy customers hostage like this is just dumb.
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* Marketing When Customer Equity Matters. by Hanssens, Dominique M, Daniel Thorpe and Carl Finkbeiner. Harvard Business Review, May 2008