It’s a fact of cable industry life that MSOs have absolutely miserable reputations
If there’s any industry that knows the value of a customer, it has to be the cable industry. I am unfamiliar with any other industry in which, when a company is sold, the purchase price is calculated in dollars per customer.
It’s a fact of cable industry life that MSOs have absolutely miserable reputations, ranking below airlines and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unlike, say, the current vice president, cable operators are actually compelled to do something about poor ratings.
There’s little cable operators can do about their reputations for constantly raising prices because they keep raising prices. Operators could try a little harder to explain that most of the time they’re just passing along rate hikes from programmers, but still. And the rationales for some of those fees seem a bit obscure. And even if cable isn’t a monopoly, at one time it was a near-monopoly, and people hold grudges for a long time.
What operators can do is provide good customer service. MSOs seem to be meeting with some success at that. Relatively. In a recent customer satisfaction survey, the cable and satellite TV industry scored a 62 out of 100 (the IRS scored 65). But cable call centers scored a 68. It is interesting that cable customers are significantly more satisfied with cable service centers than they are with cable companies as a whole. It suggests that call centers are providing operators with some inoculation against dissatisfaction with prices and services.
On the other hand, scores in the 60s are considered an indication that there are some serious problems. The survey, conducted by The CFI Group, suggests that cable customer service reps (CSRs) could be more knowledgeable and more efficient at handling problems.
The survey found that 21 percent of those who called their cable operator’s customer service department did not get their problem resolved, and of those, half (49 percent) churned.
The problem is that customer service costs money, and nobody likes spending money. So self-provisioning is becoming popular. For example, last year Cablevision had 600,000 provisioning requests for video services that it handled entirely through set-top boxes, with no CSRs involved. And Cablevision customers apparently liked that just fine.
The temptation might be to go to an offshore call center. The CFI Group’s recommendation? Don’t do it. “While not presently a major issue with the cable and satellite TV industry, for those industries with higher levels of offshoring, customer service is an issue,” the report says. “If cable and satellite executives ever seriously consider offshoring frontline customer service, they need to be wary of the impact on customer service; at the end of the day the cost savings may not offset the loss in customer goodwill and retention.”
Customer service is therefore probably not a foundation for improving a cable operator’s reputation. That might inspire some to think about skimping in that area. Don’t do it. Bad – or even merely indifferent – customer service can only hurt.