Proven Strategies Cable Companies Can Use to Retain Customers


In cable television, customer retention is a growing problem – and many of our clients turn to us specifically for retention call center services. Many factors contribute to difficulties with retention, including increased competition.

Frequently, customers have issues with:

  • Price
  • Programming or service offerings
  • Service or billing
  • Time constraints
  • Technology

Now more than ever, your call center agents need to be skilled in how to retain customers who call in to downgrade or cancel services. The first step to saving a customer is to follow a well-defined retention formula.

Formula for Retaining Customers

Establish rapport and take ownership. When fielding these calls, your front line agents have a choice: they can either be passive order-takers, or they can take on the role of a proactive consultant – asking questions and helping customers discover new options to best meet their needs.

You want to have a two-way conversation that uncovers their needs or objections. Rather than bombarding the customer with a stream of questions, first, make a statement. Then, ask a question. Next, listen to and acknowledge the customer’s response. Then start the process again, by making another statement.

Can You Script Retention?

I’ve written in the past against the use of call center scripts. My opposition to them isn’t wholesale, but rather against the practice of sticking to the script robotically. I do believe they have a role to play, and retention is an area where scripting can help. But my same caveat applies: agents should be given flexibility when using scripts.

Retention: Start at the Beginning

A typical retention process involves a number of sequential steps, in which agents move down the list until they obtain the customer’s agreement.

  1. In the initial response, an agent attempts to save the customer at the current price with their current services, or offers to save the customer money by giving them the VIP package. Studies show that the more services a customer subscribes to, the greater their loyalty, satisfaction and rate of retention.
  2. If the customer objects to these steps, the agent typically offers to downgrade non-core products, such as premium channels, additional outlets, or lowering the level of video or internet).
  3. If all else fails, the agent proposes a company-specific retention offer. If no specific offer is available, the agent will try to keep the customer at the highest level of service possible.

During the retention process, it’s critical that agents don’t just follow the script. The front line agent needs to have the knowledge and flexibility to also incorporate value sellinginformational stories (“story selling”), and the ability to share all the features & benefits available.

Sell the Value

When responding to their complaints or objections, it is important for call center agents to provide relevant reasons why the customer should keep their current service.

Promote features and benefits by explaining them to the customer in concrete terms, for example: “You get over 100 channels. You’re saving $XYZ per month and I’m sure you don’t want to lose any of your channels.”

The more precisely your agents target their needs, the more the customer feels like they have been listened to, and that your company sincerely wants to help them.
By injecting personal experiences, your agents boost their credibility and build more rapport with the customer, encouraging them to listen to the options presented. For instance, if an agent explains how a friend’s satellite service is always out when it rains, this can help the customer consider how weather affects satellite reception and reliability.

To Get the Save, Ask for It

After giving the customer enough information to convince them to keep the service, ask for the save. One simple question, such as, “Wouldn’t you like to keep your current services?” focuses them on making a decision and helps them commit on the spot. Once they agree to keep their services, immediately affirm their decision by saying something like, “I know you’ll be happy with the bundle since you’ll be saving money every month.”

Finally, explain any billing changes involved, to make sure they understand and to reduce callbacks down the road.

Proof That the Ask Improves Retention Rates

While asking for the save may sound like a long shot, it’s actually very effective. In a recent study of 535 retention calls, in 33% of the transactions the agent asked for the save or the customer agreed without the agent needing to ask. Of those, 72% retained their services.

In 64% of the 535 transactions, the agent either didn’t ask for the save or the customer was adamant about removing the service. Of those, only 13% retained their services—a sizeable difference.

By tuning into customers’ concerns and systematically following these steps, your agents can significantly boost call center retention rates while keeping your customers satisfied.

What techniques have helped you retain customers?