Retention Interactions: When to Hold'em and when to Fold'em

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recently, a recording of an interaction between a retention agent and a cable subscriber was carried on Blogs, Tech Websites, National News, and The Colbert Report. An agent's bullheaded attempts to retain a subscriber, after it was obvious that he was just annoying the man, resulted in a tidal wave of negative reaction from subscribers and other cable retention agents.

The reality of Retention Interactions is that, if the relationship is really over, it's best to leave with a handshake. The question is;  When should an agent hold'em or fold'em? 

A Retention Study we performed should shed light on this question. 

Every analysis we perform starts with our recording the caller's declared intentions. In Retention interactions these include one of the following: Disconnect, Downgrade, or Reduce Cost.

Study Results by Initial Intention

In retention interactions, when the initial caller Intent was to:

  1. Reduce Cost (45% of Calls) 

    1. 1.47% Kept All. (Risk 58%)

    2. 2.34% Reduced Cost.

    3. 3.14% Downgraded (Risk 10%)

    4. 4.1% Disconnected

  2. Downgrade (29% of Calls)

    1. 1.29% Kept All. (Risk 33%)

    2. 2.3% Reduced Cost.(Risk 6%)

    3. 3.65% Downgraded.(Risk 8%)

    4. 4.1% Disconnected

  3. Disconnect: (27% of Calls)

    1. 1.19% Kept All. (Risk 46%)

    2. 2.2% Reduced Cost.

    3. 3.2% Downgraded.(Risk 5%)

    4. 4.77% Disconnected

Note: Uncontrolled Disconnects are excluded from the chart because they aren't retention opportunities.

Note 2: Risk denotes likelihood of revenue loss within 90 days.

The Study's Conclusions


If a caller's initial intent is to Disconnect, it is very likely that they will end their subscription. It's better to 'fold'em', then to spend precious minutes irritating a long time subscriber that may consider returning at some point in the future. 

Almost half of the 19% of Controlled Disconnects that 'Kept all', did so under duress (not authorized, on contract, etc.) These disconnects were deemed 'At Risk' of revenue loss within 90 days.


If a caller's initial intent is to 'Downgrade', there's a good chance that they will either' Downgrade' or 'Keep All'. It's unlikely that they will 'Disconnect' if handled correctly.

Reduce Cost

If a caller's initial intent is to 'Reduce Cost', there's a good chance that they will ether 'Keep All', 'Reduce Costs', or 'Downgrade'. If they 'Keep All' it's usually under duress and they are 'at Risk'. Again, it's unlikely that they will 'Disconnect' if handled correctly. 

Call Intelligence - Better by Design

Call Intelligence Inc. is a Transactional Intelligence and Design Consultancy with over 24 years helping our clients to better understand and improve the outcomes of interactions with their prospects and customers.

Our analyses allow us to map, correlate and prioritize thousands of possible relationships between marketing programs, call handling systems, calls, callers, call components, concerns, agents, competition, etc...and outcomes.