Doing “Something Differently” to Reduce Call Center Churn

by: Bob Davis

Survey says customer churn is high, but clearly preventable

The eighth annual Accenture Global Survey results released December 5, 2012, revealed a tremendous opportunity for sales and service organizations across the board. The survey had two major findings. First, in 2012 one in five consumers switched companies they buy from such as wireless phone, Internet service and retail organizations. This is up five percent from the previous year. Second, and herein lies the opportunity, 85 percent of consumers say the companies could have prevented them from switching had they done something differently. And best of all the respondents—more than 12,000 in 32 countries—specified what “something differently” means.

Churn factors

Sixty-seven percent might have stayed if their issue had been resolved during the first contact. Fifty-four percent said being rewarded for doing more business with the company could have saved them from switching. And 78 percent said they switched because they are likely to move to another provider over broken promises—when the customer service experience is different than what the company promised at the beginning. Other factors that make customers more likely to bail include:

  • Having to call customer service more than once about the same issue (65 percent of respondents)
  • Unfriendly agents (65 percent)
  • Long hold times (61 percent)

Three sectors had the biggest jumps in customer defections. Wireless phone providers saw churn rates rise five points from 2011 to 26-percent. Internet service providers saw 23 percent of their customers switch, up four points from last year. And retailers said goodbye to 22 percent of their customers, up six points from 2011.

How to deliver the difference

In working with customer contact center organizations across multiple industries throughout North America, I’ve found out how to deliver “something different” and save many more customers from quitting. It’s called The Quality Conversation.

The Quality Conversation is based on a robust five-step call flow—greeting, discovery, solution, offer and close. The greeting is enthusiastic, assures help, and shows clarity of purpose and a great attitude. From the beginning, agents show genuine interest in the customer and establish an emotional connection.

Next, the agent engages in full discovery to understand the customer’s wants, interest and needs. This involves asking the right questions to understand the customer’s true reason for canceling  often not the first reason given. The agent listens, restates and assures help, draws out hidden concerns, isolates primary concerns, finds areas to add value, and bridges to a solution.

With proper discovery the right solution presents itself and strikes a chord with customers because it ties product or service benefits with their wants, interests and needs. This opens the door to a compelling offer and closing with an assumptive approach.

High return on investment

Implementing The Quality Conversation requires culture change, training and coaching and buy-in at all levels of the organization. Is it worth the investment? Here are just a couple of examples of how effective this process really is:

  • A major high-speed Internet provider increased its saves rate on inbound cancellation calls from 49 percent to 62 percent.
  • An outbound retention group now gets 3.4 saves per hour per rep on requested permanent stops, up from one save per hour per rep before The Quality Conversation was implemented. That’s a 240-percent increase.

Bucking the trend

What would numbers like this mean to your organization?  Based on first-hand experience I know. You’d buck the trend indicated by the Accenture survey and boost your customer retention and revenues significantly. And remember a long-standing rule of thumb: It costs significantly less to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one, even with all the switching that’s going on out there.

Lower Your Churn Rate Today

RCDA Can Deliver Results for Your Organization to Reduce Customer Churn. Spend time with Bob to see how improving your churn rate is possible this year.

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Bob Davis is the president of Robert C. Davis and Associates (, a consulting firm in Alpharetta, Georgia, specializing in improving sales, customer service and retention results in customer contact centers across North America using his company’s exclusive Quality Conversation approach. He is also a principal in RCDA’s subsidiary, QCS, LLC, which builds customized video game simulations for training contact center and other sales agents on The Quality Conversation.