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Morality of Calling for Retention Offers
Last week I wrote about Citi’s new practice of shutting down people’s account when they say “cancel” into the automated system. Previously doing this would result in you getting transferred to a retention rep who would look to see if you have any available offers. For that reason many people said “cancel” without really wanting to cancel. They just wanted to see what offers were available.
In the comments of that post a lot of people chimed in with their opinion that saying you want to cancel without an intention to do so is immoral or wrong. They also said that people who had their accounts cancelled by the automated system deserved it. I was surprised by those comments and it got me thinking on a deeper level. Is playing a retention “game of chicken” wrong?
Companies Have BIG Data
I used to work for a very large company. This company bought and collected a huge amount of data on each customer. Let’s say the customer would call in for technical support. Guess what? That technical support rep would be given information on how to upsell that customer into another product based on their age, demographics and past dealings with the company. Some of this information was collected in-house and some purchased from third party firms.
They Are Looking Into Their Best Interest
Similarly, banks are collecting huge amounts of data about you and constantly formulating and re-formulating your value to them. If they see you are valuable based on their own data and algorithms, then they will have offers available for you. Sometimes those offers are proactively given (i.e. direct mail or email) and sometimes they are reserved to save your business (i.e. retention).
Anyone who has ever gone to business school knows the number one job of a CEO is to act in the best interest of the company’s shareholders. The CEO then works within the organization to make that happen and it trickles down all the way to the bottom. In other words, the bank is always looking out for itself over you. Of course that is to be expected, but it is an important point.
Look Out For Yourself
If the bank is looking out for itself constantly, then why shouldn’t you? As I always say, you should constantly be evaluating your relationship on a bank by bank and account by account basis. Which cards work for you, which don’t and where can you get the maximum value? This philosophy is fundamental in my opinion and brings me back to the main issue once again.
The bank is looking out for itself and in doing so has created a program to keep you as a customer. Of course they hope you never call and use that program, but it is there. The offers are there waiting to be claimed. (*If they have offers for you.) You just need to claim them and if you don’t, the only one losing is you. Sure you can try to take the moral high ground, but the truth is that others are getting better value, because they are claiming their offers.
Is Lying Wrong
One of the issues others had with this practice is the act of lying and saying you want to cancel your account. I never personally come out and say I want to cancel, but instead say I am thinking of cancelling and tell them why. The conversation then goes from there. Remember, in that conversation both sides are competing in a sense. We are trying to come to an agreement that is beneficial to both. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and the card/account is cancelled. Sometimes it does and the relationship continues. It is a negotiation on the most basic of levels.
In my opinion, if you aren’t taking advantage of retention programs, then you aren’t getting the full value out of your credit card relationships. Does that mean you absolutely should call? No, of course not. Everyone does things within their own comfort zone and there is no right way or wrong way. With that said, if you are looking to “maximize everything” then a solid retention strategy is a part of that.
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