3 Steps To Stop Your Cable Subscribers From ‘Cutting The Cord’

By Bob Davis

Cable companies are faced with competition today like never before. Not only do they have to deal with traditional competitors, they also have competition from content owners, game consoles and cloud-based competitors. All of this has led to the practice called cord cutting.

Whether or not you believe cord cutting is just beginning and will gain momentum, it is impossible to argue with the numbers. The cable industry has lost more subscribers in the last quarter than any other quarter in history.

The number-one driver of this loss is that customers are pursuing lower-priced alternatives. The second most common reason is that cable customers are leaving for bundled products and services elsewhere.

Here are three ways to make your retention efforts more successful.

Requests for help versus true cancellation intent

So how do you save a customer who calls in to quit? Well, 50 percent of these calls begin with requests for help related to affordability. Customers start off by saying something like, “I have to do something about my bill! It is just too high and we need to cut back everywhere.” In these cases it is very easy for the agent to jump on the fix and eliminate the premium channels. In fact, this is the number-one solution presented. But is it always the best solution?

And what is the best way to handle calls from customers who have a clear cancellation intent?

My company, Robert C. Davis and Associates (RCDA), works extensively with customer contact centers for cable providers and many other types of companies, and we have found that the best approach for saving canceling customers is to enter into what we call The Quality Conversation with them. To do so requires certain attitudes on the part of the cable CSR.

The importance of showing genuine interest

The most important attitude CSRs need to engage in The Quality Conversation is one of genuine interest in customers and their wants, interests and needs. Much like you can hear a smile over the telephone, genuine interest comes right through to customers and sets the stage for the save. Unfortunately, not having an attitude of genuine interest comes across the phone line, too.

Discovering the true cancellation reason

Perhaps not surprisingly to anyone who has worked in a customer contact center, most callers don’t at first volunteer the real reason they are canceling. Our studies show that on 53 percent of all cancellation calls, the first reason a customer gives the CSR for cancellation is not the real one. Beyond showing genuine interest, The Quality Conversation is centered on a process that includes using discovery questions to find the true cancellation reason. This is extremely important. After all, if CSRs don’t know the true cancellation reason, they’ll focus on fixing problems that don’t resolve the real issues.

The real magic bullet is to use a complete process—full discovery—to help customers realize the value that they see in the service. For most customers, watching TV drives many positive emotions. The Quality Conversation and the full discovery that is part of the process get customers talking about these emotions and their underlying value.

Here’s an example of how it all works. Imagine that a customer is calling in to cancel HBO because he needs to save money. Through initial discovery, you determine that this is the true cancellation reason. Moving through full discovery, the next question you might ask is, “What show are you going to miss the most once you cancel?” More often than not, the customer will answer by saying something like, “Well, I was looking forward to the new season of “Boardwalk” (or whatever program is the customer’s favorite). Once customers start talking about what they’ll miss, it is very likely that they will reconsider their cancellation request. “You know what? I am going to find another way to save money,” the customer will say. “Let’s keep my HBO.”

Helping customers find the value they see in the service is so important, yet CSRs cannot lead them to it without engaging in The Quality Conversation.

Learn more about The Quality Conversation online athttp://robertcdavis.net/process/ or call 678-548-1775.

Bob Davis is the president of Robert C. Davis and Associates (www.robertcdavis.net), a consulting firm in Alpharetta, Georgia, specializing in improving sales, customer service and retention results in customer contact centers across North America. Bob is also co-founder of Surpass (www.surpasscalls.com), a highly specialized outsource customer contact center serving the needs of business clients across the country.