Anti-attrition product to launch

Friday, March 1, 2002

ADDISON, Texas-A company that works with IT and telecom companies to help improve customer retention is taking its product to the security market to improve attrition rates.

Jim Farrell, a former accountant at Brink's Home Security, and Steve Sanazaro, who has worked with many companies to turnaround or reposition them, are taking their SuccessMatrix service to companies in the industry.

Sanazaro, chief executive officer of their consulting company Synctive, based here, said the service can be tailored to companies who are looking to improve attrition numbers and revenue per account to prepare for a sale or to shore up internal operations before taking on more accounts and debt through acquisition.

The two are targeting alarm companies with more than 10,000 or 15,000 monitored accounts, as well as contract central stations looking to stem attrition or improve customer retention levels by reviewing a company's books, interacting with customers, and other aspects of the business to determine how to improve retention levels.

"In a lot of respects, an alarm company or monitoring company should be able to determine six months before a customer calls to cancel their contract that they were going to disconnect," Farrell said. The company can usually identify an account in jeopardy by looking for easily recognizable signs, such as multiple false alarm signals from the same account, repeated phone questions coming from the customer, or a lot of other activity either by phone or from the panel, he said. Even a six-month stretch of non-activity could signal a possible disconnect, since it's likely that the customer isn't using the alarm system at all, he said.

When Synctive takes on a new customer, the process will begin with a three to five day period of collecting information about the company and its practices, including how customer service personnel respond to customers on the phone and a review ofthe company's equipment and its practices. These are all crucial elements of how customers perceive a company and its brand, said Sanazaro.

"In the old days, (improving customer perception) meant an ad in the yellow pages, or a sign on trucks, but increasingly customers perceive a brand and a company based on everything they see about it," Sanazaro said. "If they receive too much junk mail (from the company) or if a truck is scratched, if they call and someone is the least bit rude, all of these things do more negative harm to a relationship with a customer than all the positive things your marketing is doing."

Keith Johnson, chief executive officer of Certicom Security in Portland, Ore. used Synctive's services in setting up his startup company's systems.

"The idea that the whole system is what enhances customer retention is where (Synctive) is coming from," Johnson said.