14 years and 3 different residences. That’s how long I was with DirecTV. The absolute textbook version of brand loyalty. Initially in 2008, when my now wife and I moved into our first apartment, DirecTV was the only option due to an exclusivity they had inked with the apartment complex. This started the 14 year relationship. A couple years later we moved into a townhome so I was closer to my job and we kept DirecTV. In 2016, when we moved in our current home, DirecTV came with us.
A lot has changed in the last 14 years when it comes to consumers and how they consume television/content. In 2008, anything we watched on the television was through DirecTV. Fast forward to the last few years and we consume considerably more content through Netflix (check out this show), Hulu, HBO Max, and Showtime Anytime than DirecTV. Around 5 years ago when we saw our consumption schedule shift towards apps, in conjunction with the mainstream discussions around ‘cord-cutting’, I called DirecTV to cancel our service. Once they realized I wanted to cancel, I was quickly transferred to the Retention Department.
A few minutes later, I was offered a loyalty discount and my bill was taken from $200 a month to a smidgen below $100. It was explained that this loyalty discount would last for 12 months. The very nice service professional I was speaking with told me that I could call back in 12 months when my bill doubled and they would apply the loyalty discount back.
$100 a month was my magic number. The discount made me feel valued. The monthly cost aligned with what I was willing to pay for the service. This included my service to HBO and Showtime (therefore app access) as well. We utilized the DVR service (my wife more than I), but in reality, anything that was being recorded was also available via on demand through our streaming apps.
In 2018, after 12 months, the bill went back to normal and I called into the Retention department; my bill was slashed in half.
In 2019, after 12 months, the bill went back to normal and I called into the Retention department; my bill was slashed in half.
In 2020, after 12 months, the bill went back to normal and I called into the Retention department; my bill was slashed in half.
In 2021, after 12 months, the bill went back to normal and I called into the Retention department; my bill was slashed in half.
Each year when I called, I contemplated if I should actually cancel my service or if I would continue with the discount and $100 a month bill. I always came to the same conclusion. $100 was my number. As long as that was my bill, I would stay with DirecTV.
In March of this year, I saw that my recently paid invoice was back to the $200 mark. It was time for my annual call into the DirecTV Retention department. Everything seemed to be going as planned until I was told that my new loyalty discount would only take my bill down to $150. $100 was my number. Not $150. I explained that I was only interested in going into my 15th year with DirecTV if my bill was $100 or less. I was told that was not possible and was walked through cancellation. 20 minutes earlier, if you would have asked me if I was going to cancel my DirecTV after 14 years, I would have said there was a less than 1% chance. 20 minutes later, that 1% had quickly moved to 100%. I was almost in shock as the service professional told me how to return my equipment. Around 30 days later when our service was actually turned off, I followed the instructions to return the equipment. Simply print out a sheet of paper with some account and equipment information and bring it with the equipment to a UPS or FedEx store. I opted for a UPS store since it was closer. In casual conversation with the gentlemen at the UPS Store, I was told that I was the 5th person in the last hour to bring him DirecTV equipment.
Now obviously I am not privy to the inner workings and cost models of DirecTV. What I do know is that even with the rising costs in every industry to do business, I was still a profitable customer. My equipment was a few years old and the associated costs had 100% been recouped via the monthly bill. I also know that DirecTV is struggling to acquire new customers. I also know that across the board, BattlBox included, keeping a customer is a lot easier than getting a new one.
This week I received an obviously automated direct mailer from DirecTV. ‘We miss you and want you back’ was the bold, largest font text on one side. Their offer? Basically what I had before for around $100 and new equipment.
Do better. Have a better process to retain your customers. Make sure all Retention department professionals are following the right process. Ensure the Winback department is aligned with the Retention department. I could understand if you had to make some tough decisions for the business and needed to stick to the $150 a month for my service level. But stick to it. The fact that you sent me a better offer 2 weeks after I left than I was asking for to stay means you have a broken system. Someone is failing at their job and making poor decisions.
As a side note for anyone wondering, YouTubeTV was the replacement we went with post DirecTV. After adding in HBO and Showtime, the monthly bill is a little bit less than $100.
$100 is my number.