AT&T Retention – How To Get a Good Deal
Have you ever heard of the “retention department”? The “customer retention” department is the part of the customer service organization at most consumer-facing companies that are in charge of persuading people to stay with the company. The goal of customer retention is to increase customer loyalty and reduce cancelations. Most companies that earn recurring revenue need to retain customers as long as possible to maximize the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
If you call AT&T in a heated mood and demand to have your account canceled, your call will quickly be routed to a retention specialist whose job it is to calm you down, move you back to being satisfied with their services, and keep you as a customer.
In this article, I’m going to 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’re calling the AT&T retention department or some other company that you do business with, these tips will come in handy.
Older readers may remember a time when the phone company didn’t care if you were a customer or not. If you canceled, there were plenty of more people coming in the door to get service; they didn’t need you. Although in some cases (like wanting free phones) this still holds true, some things have changed. Since the level of competition between phone companies is incredibly massive, some companies have chosen to focus on retaining their existing customers rather than just relying on new revenue. With more competition for fewer customers, companies are working harder to keep you on their books.
Customers and Churn
Customers are quitting companies and others are signing up for service all the time. This ebb and flow of customers is known as “churn.” Until a few years ago, most technology services company just took churn as a fact of life and didn’t concern themselves with whether a particular individual customer stayed or left. It was the same whether you’re talking internet, cell service, car insurance, or any type of service.
Now things are different. Customers are demanding discounts and are a lot savvier about moving to a new deal or researching cheaper contracts. Companies now actively try to retain you as a customer, because they have become aware that it costs money to acquire customers and that it is often much better to give a given customer a better deal to prevent 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 churn within the company. They have a range of discounts and offers they can use to tempt you to stay for another year or two years. You can contact them by dialing 611 from an AT&T phone or calling 1-800-331-0500.
However, to get a good deal from any retention department, you have to get organized.
Shop Around For Other Deals
When your installment plan is about to expire meaning your phone is paid off, shop around for other deals. Compare like for like services from across all companies who offer the same service in your area. Copy or write down prices and know who is offering what. Keep that list handy for when making the call. “You know, Telco X offered me the same level of service you’re offering 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 retention agent demanding a discount and that’s it. You need to present your evidence by showing you can get a better deal elsewhere at a lower price or with more features.
Understand What You’re Paying For
To get a discount on your service, you need to know how much you’re paying, what features add to that cost, what features you use, and what you could do without. Some of your current features could’ve been changed or replaced completely. Understand what you are currently paying for as well as what you want to pay for.
Identify Your Goal
Finally, identify your goal in making the call. Do you want a lower monthly bill or more features? Both? Want faster speeds or a bigger data cap? Both? Knowing in advance what you want will help stop you from being fobbed off with something you didn’t ask for.
Making The Call To AT&T Retention
Once you are prepared, it’s time to make the call. Have your list to hand and make sure to call from a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Most importantly, don’t tell them you want them to match another company or tell them right away what you want. Ask them what they can do for you to keep you as a customer. Then let them work their magic.
The Do’s and Don’ts Of Dealing With Customer Service Agents
- ALWAYS be polite as there’s no benefit at all to being rude.
- Be fair.
- Be firm.
- Be calm (this goes along with being firm in a productive way).
- Be reasonable (i.e., don’t demand too much)
- Give the customer care agent time and space to respond to your requests
- Use pauses to your advantage.
- Do not interrupt the agent.
- Do not swear.
- Do not be aggressive.
- Do not call on Mondays, Fridays, or first thing in the morning. This is when the customer service agents are likely to be overwhelmed with calls, which will make them less attentive to and proactive about meeting your requests.
- Ask questions such as; “Is there anything you can do to help me lower my bill?”
4 Tips For Dealing With Customer Retention
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more if you’re not happy with what the AT&T retention agent comes back with. As long as you are flexible and fair, you can always ask for more, or a free feature for a few months, or some other benefit depending on the goals you set earlier. Never be afraid to ask for more as these companies are never afraid to take more.
- Use pauses carefully as you do want to respect the AT&T customer service agent’s time. Agents are timed on their calls and need to get your call serviced quickly and onto another. Don’t go all TV and make them wait 30 seconds at a time, but use a pause to show dissatisfaction or make them sweat a little. Sometimes a simple pause can provide a more generous offer so they can chalk up another satisfied customer.
- Understand that most representatives will offer you what they have available at the time. No customer service representative’s goal is to argue with a customer, it’s much easier to give you what you want if they have it available. You can always politely request to speak with a manager if you feel that there is something you’re not being offered.
- Finally, if the agent you’re speaking to doesn’t seem interested or isn’t bothered about keeping you as a customer, thank them and hang up. Leave it a minute and try again. Different staff members will have different levels of enthusiasm or be at a different stage in their monthly targets. Also, AT&T like many other companies uses both contracted employees (non-AT&T employees) and corporate employees in their retention department. Depending on which one you’re speaking to they may not have the power to authorize other deals.
The Low-Down on Deals
Before calling, keep in mind that retaining your loyalty is not the only goal of the company. AT&T needs revenue to continue providing service for all of its customers, so you may get a special offer if you add a new service to your bundle instead of a bill credit or rate reduction, this will often save you money on another bill (for example; switch your internet to AT&T at a discounted rate).
If you’re looking for a deal on a new phone you may be out of luck here. The representative may have the option to lower your plan and offset the cost of a new phone but you’ll still have to pay taxes upfront and the MSRP (price set by the manufacturer) for the phone.
The deals that are available to the retention reps are pre-loaded and mapped out by an individual they’ve likely never met before. We say this because you don’t want to waste your time trying to get something another company is offering after AT&T says they can’t. Sometimes the best deals are for new customers, you can always switch to another provider to take advantage of discounts then switch back at a later date.
How To Make Sure Your Customer Retention Deal Is Honored
Once you have a deal, repeat it back to them. This verifies that you understand what is being offered and that they’re clear on your expectations. Next, get the representatives’ first name and write down the time of your call. Whenever an agent touches your account, there is an ID in the notes (the representative cannot give you this ID and some won’t give you their last name, but their first name and the time of the call should suffice). If you have a problem with promises made, call back with that information.
Then set a calendar reminder to yourself to repeat the whole process again once this contract term is up. Over time you can save yourself a lot of money by contacting the customer retention teams at AT&T and other businesses you pay a monthly,
If you can spend an hour of your time researching deals and talking to an agent, you can save money or get extra features for little or no money. As long as you are reasonable in your requests and fair with the AT&T retention agent, you will be surprised 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 had success in dealing with them to get better terms? Tell us about your experiences below.