It’s usually a publicly unspoken practice, unless of course you are Sprint. Apparently they have had enough with certain customers. The blogosphere is alive with stories of Sprint’s latest escapade, where they ceremoniously have ‘kicked customers to the curb.’ Sprint has notified a number of customers (exact numbers unknown at this point) that they are no longer in need of their monthly checks, due to a higher than normal number of customer service complaints from said high maintenance customer. Letters have been mailed, that offer explanations, including, “While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time has led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs.”
“Therefore after careful consideration, the decision has been made to terminate your wireless service agreement effective July 30, 2007.” Ouch! An interesting proposition, coming from a service provider a little down on their luck lately. This is one of those moments where you really need to pause and ponder. It is either a bonehead move by Sprint, or a very shrewd one. Anyone who has been a service provider knows that there are certain customers you don’t want. Conventional wisdom says you deal with them to the best of your ability, but never publicly admonish them. Maybe Sprint is on to something. In the hyper competitive world of wireless, maybe you waste too much resource on these high maintenance customers. Resources that you can apply elsewhere. Perhaps the right move is to just rid yourself of them, and focus on your low maintenance, high margin customer base. No easy answers to this complex equation. If nothing else, give Sprint credit for taking a stance. Time will tell whether it was the right stance. But, they did go out on a limb and take one.
Story Update (7/10) – The Washington Post reports today that Sprint is making no apology for these moves. Sprint says about 1,000 customers were affected by this action and that they called customer service 40-50 times per month, on average.