Preparing for the Coming Spike in Customer Churn

Axel Wells and Kevin Billings of Pegasystems
Axel Wells and Kevin Billings of Pegasystems (Image credit: Pegasystems)

Cable and satellite providers have traditionally relied on a model of too-good-to-be-true offers that expire after a promotional period and fall short soon after. After that, it becomes a struggle to retain the new customers they obtained during the promotional period once their service agreement runs out.  And as customer service issues are steadily building up during the global pandemic, there could be a major storm brewing — the result being that cable and satellite providers could experience a mass customer exodus. 

The main question then becomes: how can cable and satellite providers prepare for a sudden jump in the number of customers abandoning them? If they act before it’s too late, they actually might not have to experience that jump.  

Turning to AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been part of the customer retention toolkit for a while now, but it’s more critical than ever before that organizations take full advantage of AI’s capabilities. With AI, cable and satellite providers can proactively identify the most vulnerable customers who are likely to experience payment difficulties further down the line or are experiencing service issues and provide helpful interactions — such as advice and services — before it’s too late. AI can also help providers offer more personalized services, such as modifying service offers through plans that provide value but don’t jump in price. 

It is also important to remember that contact centers continue to experience disruption and customers are less willing to visit newly opened retail stores, which can cause more frustration and lead to less engagement. To ensure customers remain engaged, pre-emptive, AI-powered outbound communication through multiple channels can forge long-lasting relationships with customers.

By using AI to detect customers experiencing service issues, cable and satellite providers can prioritize their retention efforts on those individuals. Engaging proactively with empathetic, suitable retention offers that address customers’ issues in the moment can help build the relationships and trust required for long-term loyalty. 

Focus on Lifetime Value

With people relying on digital channels more than ever, it is time for cable and satellite providers to develop a better engagement model for their own channels and optimize the use of inbound channels more. For example, launch “digital experts” such as web self-service, mobile apps, and intelligent assistants (e.g., chatbots, email bots) to deflect questions from the call center and automate request completion and fulfillment. This not only provides customers with more choices on how to engage with their provider, it also frees up customer service representatives to more urgently assist customers who need help most. 

How can cable and satellite providers prepare for a sudden jump in the number of customers abandoning them? If they act before it’s too late, they actually might not have to experience that jump.

In times of need, cable and satellite providers can no longer offer temporary promotional packages that increase in price after a year. Instead, they need to find ways to offer similar value for an extended period of time, or packages with more value for the same price that target customers with different variations based on their propensity to upgrade or indication of intent to churn.  This type of strategy will help organizations tailor their approach for an individual customer in a specific context addressing the customer’s need at the exact right time. This helps organizations drive or maintain a higher level of customer lifetime value through the variation of these offers.

Empathy also plays a critical role in communicating difficult conversations. Cable and satellite providers must drive meaningful experiences to help bolster customer lifetime value. These interactions keep the customer engaged, which will help drive loyalty and likely stop a customer from jumping to another competitor.   

Identify Pain Points With Data

Making the most of customer data and putting it to good use will also be fundamental in reducing customer churn. Static customer data is no longer sufficient to personalize engagement in the digital world. Data usage today revolves around understanding the customer’s intent to take relevant action in real time. Cable and satellite providers need to leverage and analyze their extensive customer data from a variety of sources — owned digital, paid digital, outbound, social media, or agent-assisted channels.  

Traditionally, cable and satellite companies would offer a next-best-action from static data, which is no longer enough. These companies need to analyze data and context to come up with an appropriate plan of action with individual customers based on where they currently are on their journey. Re-decisioning based on current, contextual data provides service agents with an empathetic, contextual and conversational experience for the customer to quickly and efficiently resolve their issue or enhance their current service.  

Review Pricing

In the long-term, cable and satellite providers also need to reassess their pricing, as consumer spending power has the potential to decrease during times of economic uncertainty. Using AI to identify customers who could be price-sensitive and preparing to encourage those customers to stay through offers that increase the value of their existing plan, lower the price based of their current needs or even suspend payments for a set period, can be the difference between a lifelong customer or one who cancels their service agreement.  


Axel Wells is director, Telecoms, Media & Consumer Markets and Kevin Billings is director and industry principal at Pegasystems.

The use of promotional pricing vs. a reasonable, sustained pricing model has caused many customers to leave for streaming services. Adopting strategies that leverage different price points for the same service based on a customer’s willingness to pay offers another path to creating stable revenue growth.  Harnessing AI will better prepare organizations to handle an economic downturn and brace for the impact of streaming services.  

For cable and satellite providers to realize these strategies, they must take advantage of technologies available to them, particularly AI. Making this investment can help create the right offers and engagement strategies to develop real relationships with customers navigating this difficult period. 

Axel Wells is director, Telecoms, Media & Consumer Markets and Kevin Billings is director and industry principal at Pegasystems.