how you treat your ex-customers speaks volumes of what you think about any customer (past, present, or future). some companies value current customers merely because they're theoretically the cheapest to keep.  some companies spend billions in an attempt to replace the customers they know they're going to lose.  and then once you cease being a customer, any record of your prior relationship is erased -- like an ex-girlfriend burning a shoe box of memories.

verizon would be an example of this behavior, and more broadly this philosophy... 

and then there's netflix.  not too dissimilar from these general goals and tactics (as both verizon and netflix are in the subscription business), but the two couldn't be more different when it comes to respecting and honoring the customer relationship.  the one that is; the one there was; and most importantly, the one that may come again.

from reading netflix's sec filings and talking with fellow subscribers, i know i'm not the only one who comes and goes from time to time.  who binges for a month or two and then cancels... but rather than force me to start from scratch -- enter new billing, new preferences, new ratings, viewing history, etc -- every time i come back, netflix allows me to pick up right where i left off at the exact moment I want to resume my relationship. same log-in and I am once again their customer.

verizon, on the other hand, is a bit like breaking up with a bat shit crazy girlfriend who will proceed to purge you from ever existing.  i know this all too well, as verizon erroneously turned off my fios service a day early (the day before our move, and i had some "orange is the new black" to watch on netflix).

when i called them up, roughly five hours since our relationship was terminated, they already had zero record of me in their system. no name, no email, no phone number. they didn't even have a record of service being at my address.

finally i was able to find my account number, but this only led to more problems.

i wanted them to say "we're sorry we turned the service on the wrong day. we'll turn that on immediately. you're all set."

instead they said they couldn't restore service, because that required a "new" order.  after a few minutes of arguing semantics on this point, i gave in and said fine. what do you need from me? but this is where things got more difficult because the new tenants (set to move in two weeks later) already had an existing order.  thus, their ideal solution was to inconvenience both of us -- as they wanted to contact those people about cancelling their order, which had nothing to do my extra day of service.

you get the point, so i'll cut this rant short, sparing you the details of a few more phone calls... in the end, i had to do a new order -- giving them billing they already had, and a credit check even though they knew me to be a customer will good credit (plus a payment history).

a few hours later and it was back, granted i had to create a new username to log into their system, set up the router, etc... but rather then inconveniencing customers, why not use this data for their own purposes?

sure there is the argument of why they should think about customers differently and why they should have better processes in place, but there is also the argument to do this for selfish, profit driven reasons.  by allowing customers, even past customers, to keep their log in, at the same time they are able to keep a record of that person's credit history, billing info, order histories, address histories -- not to mention more meta stuff like bandwidth usage.

given verizon's history of supplying customer info to the government, we know respecting customer privacy is not the reason for keeping and using this data.  so why not be a friendlier company, a smarter company, and more profitable by using this data?  netflix does, and more companies should.


note, this was drafted and posted on mobile (mostly my phone and a little on my ipad) so excuse the dearth of pics and links.

Authorjonathan hegranes