Have you ever heard of the “retention department”? The “customer retention” department is the part of the customer service organization in most consumer-oriented businesses that is tasked with persuading people to stay with the business. The goal of customer retention is to increase customer loyalty and reduce churn. Most businesses that earn recurring revenue need to retain customers as long as possible to maximize Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
If you call AT&T in a heated mood and demand that your account be terminated, your call will quickly be directed to a retention specialist whose job it is to calm you down, get you satisfied with their services, and keep you as a customer.
In this article, I’ll tell you how to talk to retention departments and get the best deal possible, keeping in mind that they have incentives to keep you as a customer. Whether you call AT & T’s retention department or some other company you do business with, these tips will come in handy.
Older readers may recall a time when the phone company didn’t care if you were a customer or not. If you canceled, there were many more people coming through the door to get service; They didn’t need you. Things have changed, and the level of competition between phone companies is huge now. With more competition for fewer customers, companies are working harder to keep it on their books.
While this piece focuses on AT&T retention, the same techniques apply to any company that you have a service contract with and for which you pay a recurring fee.
Clients and Churn
Customers leave companies and others subscribe to the service all the time. This ebb and flow of customers is known as “churn.” Until a few years ago, most technology services companies just gave up on life and didn’t care whether a particular individual customer was staying or leaving. It was the same if he was talking about the internet, cell service, car insurance or any kind of service.
Now things are different. Clients demand discounts and are much more ready to move into a new deal or research cheaper contracts. Companies are now actively trying to retain you as a customer, because they have realized that it costs money to acquire and that it is often much better to give a given customer a better deal to keep them from leaving. This puts you in the driver’s seat for once.
Customer retention and getting a good deal
AT&T retention is responsible for reducing turnover within the company. They have a range of discounts and offers that they can use to tempt you to stick around for another year or two. You can reach them by calling 611 from an AT&T phone or by calling 1-800-331-0500. You can also chat with them online if you prefer .
However, to get a good deal from any retention department, you need to get organized.
Compare prices for other offers
When your contract is about to expire, look for other offers. Compare the like-for-like services of all the companies offering the same service in your area. Copy or write down the prices and know who is offering what. Keep that list handy to make the call. “You know, Telco X offered me the same level of service you offer, but for $ 10 a month less” is a powerful bargaining chip.
To get a discount, you need quantifiable data to support your case. There is no point talking to a withholding agent who demands a discount and that’s it. You should present your evidence showing that you can get a better deal elsewhere at a lower price or with more features.
Understand what you are paying
To get a discount on your service, you need to know how much you are paying, what features add to that cost, what features you use, and what you might be without. Some features will have been changed or replaced by others. Understand what you are currently paying for and what you want to pay.
Identify your goal
Finally, identify your goal when making the call. Do you want a lower monthly bill or more features? Both of them? Do you want faster speeds or a bigger data limit? Both of them? Knowing what you want ahead of time will help you avoid being fooled into something you didn’t ask for.
Call for AT&T withholding
Once you are prepared, it is time to make the call. Have your list handy, and be sure to call from a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Explain your situation, explain who offers a better deal and what is that best deal.
Most importantly, don’t tell them you want to match or immediately tell them what you want. Ask them what they can do for you to keep you as a customer. Then let them work their magic.
Dos and Don’ts for Customer Service Agents
- ALWAYS be courteous as there is no benefit to being rude.
- Be fair.
- Sign up.
- Stay calm (this goes along with being assertive in a productive way).
- Be reasonable (i.e. don’t demand too much)
- Give the customer service agent time and space to respond to your requests.
- Use pauses to your advantage.
- Do not interrupt the agent.
- Do not swear.
- Don’t be aggressive.
- Do not call on Monday, Friday or first thing in the morning. This is when customer service agents are likely to become overwhelmed with calls, making them less responsive and proactive in fulfilling your requests.
- Ask specific but open-ended questions when possible, such as ‘what can you do to beat that deal?’ or ‘what can you offer me to keep me here at AT&T vs. XYZ, Inc (any competitor you consider)? ‘
3 tips for dealing with customer retention
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more if you are not satisfied with what the AT&T withholding agent offers you. As long as you are flexible and fair, you can always request more, or a free feature for a few months, or some other benefit depending on the goals you previously set. Never be afraid to ask for more, as these companies are never afraid to take more.
- Use pauses carefully as you want to respect the time of the AT&T customer service agent. Agents are timed on their calls and need their call to be answered quickly and on another. Don’t go on TV and make them wait 30 seconds at a time, but pause to show dissatisfaction or make them sweat a bit. Sometimes a simple pause can provide a more generous offer so they can identify another satisfied customer.
- Finally, if the agent you’re talking to doesn’t seem interested or isn’t concerned about keeping you as a customer, thank them and hang up. Leave it for a minute and try again. Different staff members will have different levels of enthusiasm or be at a different stage in their monthly goals.
How to make sure your customer retention agreement is honored
Once you have an agreement, repeat it again to make sure you understand what is being offered and for the benefit of the tape. Ask for written confirmation and accept the terms if the terms seem reasonable and meet your expectations. Then set a calendar reminder for you to repeat the entire process after the contract term ends. Over time, you can save a lot of money by contacting customer retention teams at AT&T and other companies that pay monthly,
If you can spend an hour of your time researching offers and talking to an agent, you can save money or get additional features for little or no money. As long as you are reasonable in your requests and fair to the AT&T withholding agent, you will be amazed at what they will do to keep you as a customer!
Have you had interactions with AT&T customer retention agents or customer retention agents at other companies? Have you been successful in dealing with them for better terms? Tell us about your experiences below.