Cable Show: Comcast to try win-at-any-cost retention program

Tue, 05/20/2008 - 8:50am
Brian Santo

Comcast is preparing to institute what seems to be the single-most aggressive customer retention program in the industry, starting June 1.

The company has been building a new call center in Newark, Del., capable of housing 700 call center agents. Comcast will have up to 200 agents devoted specifically to retaining customers “no matter what it takes,” said Mike Doyle, president of Comcast’s eastern division. Doyle was speaking in New Orleans on a Cable Show panel.

As competition increases, the more important retention becomes, Doyle said. He said that in a high percentage of instances, Comcast agents will not only be able to save a customer, they will be able to upgrade them by offering a bundle.

Many customers that ask to unsubscribe are calling to cancel a single service (frequently video) and are unaware of the cost savings inherent in bundles. That makes it easy to upgrade those customers, Doyle said. “They just don’t know the deals they can get.”

Doyle doesn’t anticipate problems of the sort that Verizon recently got in trouble for. When Verizon phone customers disconnect, they tell the new service provider, and the new service provider negotiates the disconnect with Verizon. Verizon would call those customers to try to retain them, but the telco was accused of violating the privacy of their former calling customers because they were relying on records that arguably should not have been available to them to use for that particular purpose.

Doyle said that since Comcast callers call Comcast directly to disconnect, the MSO will not have the same problem that Verizon had. Further, there is no customer demand for the ability to switch to another video provider and have that video provider negotiate a disconnect with Comcast, similar to the situation Verizon is in.

Despite all that, the new retention program looks to be a high-pressure sales situation. Doyle said it will be a retain-at-any-cost situation. Further, agent compensation will be based on retention rates and the extent of the incentives the agent offers a customer to remain with Comcast, Doyle explained.

More Broadband Direct:

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