Customer Experience: Cable Companies are No Longer the Only Show in Town

For the cable industry, competition has significantly increased over the past five years.

Customers in many areas now have multiple options for cable providers, and streaming video services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu provide viewers with more than just one way to watch their favorite shows. At the same time, telcos have upgraded their networks with fiber, which allows them to deliver pay TV and faster broadband service tiers.

And while many cable companies bundle cable with Internet and phone service, today’s consumers have more options for Internet providers and many homeowners have dropped home phone service altogether. (Even security systems now offer consistent, reliable wireless monitoring.)

With all of this competition, customer service is emerging as a key competitive differentiator. Contact centers in this new era will play a critical role in defining competitive advantage among providers. This means agents must handle more complicated inquiries and deliver a consistently outstanding customer experience every time.

Are your frontline agents up for the challenge?

The customer retention play

As competition increases, customer retention also becomes more critical.

Many cable companies offer “triple plays” that bundle services like cable, phone and internet for a low introductory rate. But when the price increases at the end of the promotion, some customers start looking elsewhere for a better deal.

This perceived commoditization of providers drives a higher need for skilled agents who can deliver a more personalized and consistent customer experience.

Cable providers must drive loyalty from the beginning of the relationship so that customers don’t leave as soon as the price goes up. In order to preserve their existing customer base, providers must reduce churn and retain these “spinners” by educating frontline agents about how to offer “sticky” products that drive loyalty and ultimately increase revenue.

More complex inquiries

As bundles increase in complexity, customers’ inquiries have also become more complicated. And when a call lands with an agent who doesn’t have the knowledge and skills they need to answer the question or solve the problem, customers must be put on hold or transferred to another agent who can help them.

Sometimes agents lack the required information because they are new, and agent attrition can become a factor.

Other times, a customer may call with a complex question or issue that the agent only gets once a quarter and may not remember how to handle. Or, agents may not have access to the system they need to effectively handle the issue. As a result, customers become frustrated and have to call back, sometimes never reaching an agent who knows how to solve their problem.

Not only can high internal transfer rates and callbacks be a routing challenge for centers, they also have a negative impact on both agent and customer satisfaction. Agents need ongoing training and coaching to consistently handle customer inquiries on the first call and drive customer loyalty and queues need to be up to date based on most recent performance and acquired skills to ensure customers reach qualified agents.

Driving long-term growth

The ability of frontline agents to up-sell and cross-sell on a single call is vital to a provider’s long-term growth.

Every time a customer calls in, agents have the ability to increase sales and drive long-term growth. The key is equipping frontline agents with the information they need to ask the right questions after they have dealt with the customer service issue or initial reason for the call so that they can then add more value.

For example, a cable company with thousands of wireless public access points in a given area should have agents educate customers about this service to increase adoption and drive competitive advantage. Or, as football season begins, agents could up-sell bundles or sports packages to ensure customers never miss a televised game.

New technologies will also help improve operational efficiencies and overall agent performance so that contact centers can remain agile and dynamically respond to customer demand and competitive offers. Those providers who are able to best leverage these technologies to replace manual processes and create a real-time workforce will be most likely to succeed in this new consumer-driven competitive environment.

About the author

Matt McConnell

Matt is chairman, president and CEO of Intradiem. Matt co-founded Intradiem in 1995 with a vision of helping companies increase the level of customer service they deliver by improving the performance of their agents. Today, Intradiem is a leader in its market with more than 300,000 call center agents around the world using Intradiem every day. Matt is the author of the book Customer Service at a Crossroads and holds 11 software patents. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in industrial and systems engineering.

Similar Articles