AT&T listening to customers, cutting bills?
Alan Weinkrantz was an early U-verse customer of AT&T’s in San Antonio and has been blogging for some time about that experience. Now he’s telling the world that AT&T is willing to dramatically cut prices in order to retain its most valuable customers.
Weinkrantz called AT&T customer service and was able to cut his triple-play bill from $164 to $94. (His blog post is here.) That includes a $40 reduction for the top-tier U-verse video service with high definition, a $10 reduction in voice service and a $20 reduction for mid-tier Yahoo Broadband Elite Internet access. The latter reduction reduced the cost of broadband to $10 a month.
“It was an experiment – I was shocked,” Weinkrantz said. “I just called up and said, ‘Here’s my account number, here’s what I’m doing, I need to save money, what can you do to work with me?’ I have a nice lifestyle, but my business is off, I have clients cutting back, and my fees aren’t what they used to be. I have to figure out a way to cut back on certain things.”
Weinkrantz found the customer service rep to be very sympathetic – although he’s divorced, he told the man his wife thinks he watches too much TV – and admits he was stunned by the depth of the discount. “I would have been thrilled with a 20% cut -- with any cut, really,” Weinkrantz said. “I never expected this much.”
AT&T’s response actually mirrors what industry experts told Telephony about how to survive the recession. Those experts advised telcos to focus heavily on retaining customers, especially triple-play customers, and to empower their customer service reps (CSRs) to respond to complaints or cancellation calls with attractive offers.
“I think we are in what I call a ‘walk-away’ economy,” Weinkrantz said. “If you can’t get the price you want, consumers will walk away.”The new lower price only applies for six months, but Weinkrantz had the CSR note in his record that he will call again in May, looking for the same deal. “This recession isn’t going away for a while,” he said.
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