Does Your Provider Care About Customer Care?


Does Your Provider Care About Customer Care?

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  October 15, 2012

We talk a lot about user expectations and what vendors must do to meet those expectations. In one short explanation, that’s the crux of CUSTOMER magazine.

There are many different types of expectations, and various ways for businesses to address them. One way to differentiate is to consider proactive and reactive measures for meeting (or failing to meet) customer expectations.

For reactive strategies, there are countless technologies available that allow businesses to listen to and respond to their customers – call center solutions, CRM systems, social media integration, call recording software, etc.

In that case it’s about making sure you have the multichannel capabilities in place that will allow your customers to communicate via whatever medium they prefer – the choice should be theirs. Likewise, you must have staff available to respond in kind – and with an understanding of when it is strategically appropriate to switch communications modalities.

I’ve discussed the importance of unified communications across the entire enterprise, including the contact center, and will inevitably do so again. But not today. Today, I find myself frustrated and with my expectations not completely met.

In the world of satisfaction and brand loyalty, regardless of how close you come to meeting expectations, if the last thing the customer remembers is your inability to meet his or her needs, you have failed in satisfying your customer, in creating a brand advocate, and in ensuring long-term retention.

Basically, you have failed in all the areas that should be agenda toppers for all vendors.

I’ll explain very briefly: I phoned my triple play provider, looking to add the sports package that includes the NFL Red Zone channel – I had to place the call because all the alternative methods for making the change failed, including online and via the STB, despite clear statements that it could be done in either manner.

In theory, the addition was easy, but I made the mistake of asking questions, and that’s where things got shaky.

Q: Why am I not able to make the addition online or via my STB? 
A: I don’t know (after having to explain what STB means).

Q: Why is the pricing different than what the site indicates? 
A: That must be the old pricing.

Q: I already subscribe to several of these channels through my main packages. Why am I being double billed for them? 
A: You aren’t being double billed; they are part of multiple packages.

With each question, I grew increasingly frustrated, failing to understand how an operator that has been struggling for several years (as have most cablecos), could be so remiss in making a few simple changes to make things easy for its subscribers. If you’re going to promote an opportunity, why make it difficult to take advantage of? And as for the pricing, Curious George could program the system to prorate the package depending on other packages.

Indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed seven hours of uninterrupted coverage from every venue in the league. But at the end of the evening, when I turned off the TV, the branding on the remote control screamed out at me, bringing me back to reality, reminding me that I needed to look into alternative providers.

But this goes far beyond this particular instance. It’s about a fundamental flaw in providers’ strategies. It’s not a new story; U.S. providers have historically been much more focused on acquisition than retention and churn, despite the common understanding that retention is much less expensive.

None of the questions above are outrageous. None of them are beyond the technological capacity of any provider (and I didn’t even mention having to enter my account information, then having to repeat it for the CSR (News - Alert)). It’s simply a matter of corporate strategy and customer care.

The simple fact is: Operators don’t care about customers. They care about their bottom lines, yet they fail to recognize that they benefit from taking the extra measures to ensure existing subscriber satisfaction, because eventually, that leads to loyalty and social commentary as a brand advocate, which translates into new customer acquisition minus the churn, and that’s a win.

Instead, Cablevision has an unhappy customer, one with no brand loyalty, one that is seeking alternative options and, when the right offer arises, is likely to make a change without thinking twice (ask his previous provider).  In fact, with OTT services becoming increasingly popular, operators must become more focused on the small things and showing they care. Right now, most subscribers feel their operators don’t care (that’s not limited to cable MSO).

Edited by Braden Becker
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