What A Concept! Cable Company Thinks Good Customer Service Is Good For Business

from the yeah,-right... dept

Cable companies and telcos are infamous for their bad customer service, with poorly trained call center operatives who force you to go through a useless script and have incentives to simply get you off the phone as quickly as possible. It looks like at least one cable company has realized this isn't very good for business. Just as people are recognizing that good customer service tends to be reflected in a company's stock price, BusinessWeek is running an article about how Cox actually wants its customers to be happy with their service (via Broadband Reports). Of course, as Broadband Reports notes, Cox has a very low bar to hurdle to be better at customer service than others in the market. Still, it's a sign of the times that this should even be newsworthy, but too many companies still think of customer service as a cost center. To decrease immediate costs, they focus on metrics like average call time, and focus on making those calls shorter. Cox, at least, recognizes how silly this. It just leads to increased customer dissatisfaction, more inbound calls (even if they're shorter) and probably more technical resources wasted trying to fix problems that could have been fixed earlier. Instead, they reward customer service people based on actually fixing problems and allow both customer service and technical support people to access the same information. That last point, again, seems like an obvious one, but for anyone who's been passed around a phone tree because the tech support person doesn't have access to the customer support info and vice versa, you'll recognize how uncommon it appears to be. Finally, Cox will helps customers with problems that don't even originate on Cox equipment -- which is great for customers who are sick of the "blame game" where telcos and cablecos simply blame others (Microsoft, you, your router company, etc.) for any problems you're facing.

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  1. identicon
    Larry, 18 May 2007 @ 4:21pm

    Happy with Cox

    I've had Cox cable (and internet and phone) for years now. Never had a problem like Mike is discussing. If something DOES go wrong, they send out a tech and it gets fixed. I've even had them reset my cable box while on the phone, saving me time lost without service and them the trip.

    Getting the phone service thru them a few years ago allowed me to unload SBC the most evil of empires known to man. I'll never go back to them, ever!

    I DO NOT work for Cox or in the telecom industry, just wanted to say I'm happy with Cox's service (if not the prices).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Luci, 18 May 2007 @ 5:53pm

    Difference in markets

    As Larry said, there are places where the service hasn't gone to hell and back. Same goes for AT&T (Now ComCast). I did work for AT&T for a while, so this isn't really all that new to me. It's as much the parent company as the markets, themselves. Some markets treat their customers more as neighbors than money in the pocket, which is nice. Now, my cable/internet/phone company is a local affair, and I've never had any issue with them. Even when it's actually been my fault, they work with me. Basically, it comes down to shopping around. Sometimes you've got options, sometimes you don't. It's certainly refreshing to see Cox, which has a terrible name in my area, trying to clean up their act.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike, 18 May 2007 @ 6:52pm

    Sign me up

    With all the lousy companies out there, I am willing to switch simply to give Cox a chance to make me a satisfied customer. Money talks and BS walks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Anonymous Poster (profile), 18 May 2007 @ 7:02pm

    I've been a customer of Charter for years, and not only have I had very few problems with my service (I think I could count the amount I've had on one hand), but their customer service has, in my experience, been very helpful and courteous. So props to Charter for having good customer service (YMMV, of course).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Javarod, 18 May 2007 @ 7:34pm

    Another satisfied Cox customer here. Customer service is more than just a pair of words to them, they really do fix things right fairly quickly. What I like is that they offer logical companions to their services, they'll set up your home network for you for a small fee, and ifn I recall, they'll even serve as your IT support for a small monthly fee. In fact, the only complaints I've ever heard about Cox on Broadband Reports was in areas they'd recently purchased from other companies, areas where they still had to over haul the network and local support systems, which is understandable. I'm so satisfied that the availability of Cox services helps decide whether or not I'll move into a specific apartment complex.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Brian Mason, 18 May 2007 @ 8:02pm

    Cable Companies

    I have time warner cable in WI. Their customer service sucks. I have had them for years and one thing I have learned is that if you have a problem the first thing they do is check your account for any account balance due. And if you have a problem with the rep your talking to and want to talk to a supervisor for some mysterious reason they are gone for the day or week or month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, 19 May 2007 @ 2:34am

    I'm really happy with Cox

    Of all the ISPs that I have to deal with in my area, Cox is tops. Their uptime is amazing, and while you sometimes have to wait to talk to a rep, they are pretty good at helping troubleshoot issues. Embarq, AT&T, Verizon - they all suck nut-sacks.

    Cox has only raised my rates once or twice in the almost 7 years that I have been with them - and not a single time have I complained. I'm willing to give my money to a company who takes care of its customers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    John, 19 May 2007 @ 2:49pm

    I dunno I Just work here

    I work for QWEST, a Local phone provider amongst other things,And you wouldn't believe it, but we do have an average handle time requirement! but its not to be fast, its a minimum, meaning if I spend less than 12 minutes with a customer, I'm not doing my job, not only because I am supposed to build good rapport with every customer, but also because they view low handle time as meaning we aren't generating bundle discussions, Which not talking about every product on every call, is considered unsatisfactory. Beyond that metric, we also have, gross revenue per call, Net revenue per hour, Availability, and many, many, more. I will tell u this much, in the end, its all about sales. We are so pushed to sell sometimes its tough to remember what the issue a customer calls in about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Wickedashtray, 19 May 2007 @ 6:36pm


    FWIW I've had Cox for over 10 years and with the exception of the problems they had with a new build-out a couple of years ago they've been excellent. Further, Cox techs are always present on broadbandreports.com helping people troubleshoot even though they aren't there in an official capacity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Sohrab, 20 May 2007 @ 2:14pm

    Oh man, im with Time Warner around here and a funny story with them. My cable modem dies. No big problem, I go to the local TW store and they give me a new Modem right away. Well I take it home, plug it in and no go. I get nothing. So i call TW and go over some tech stuff and still nothing. Well they set an appointment for me, 2 days from that day. Kind of sucks still but no problem.

    Well, 2 days later, the tech comes over. (super cool guy) and we start fiddeling with the unit. I had changed my Cable Splitter from the TW one to a Monster unit and he thought that might be the problem, still nothing, we reset and all the jazz. no go.

    So we finally call their Tech Center to make sure my account info was right and all that stuff.

    To make a longer story story long, we poped in X-men 3 and watched it and finished it and sat around and still talked because he was on hold and he himself kept getting transfered from one number to another. Even those poor guys didnt have a direct connection and they dialled the same number I would have.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2007 @ 4:35am

    Just wanted to say that WOW (Way Out West) has some of the best customer service I have experienced in any industry. It actually seems like they give their call center people the ability to take care of their customers the first time around without having to talk to several different people in several different departments. They are a fairly small company but if you have them in you area check them out. No I do not work for them, I was just shocked at how easy to work with they are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Dosquatch, 21 May 2007 @ 5:34am

    Re: I dunno I Just work here

    because they view low handle time as meaning we aren't generating bundle discussions,

    See, this is the crap that pisses me off (not at you personally). I understand you're a business, I understand that you have services to sell. If I've talked to you in any capacity more than twice, I'm probably pretty aware of what those services are. I know you still need to give the sales pitch every so often - who knows, perhaps you've added a new service that would be of interest - but I'll damned well tell you that a service call is not that time. If I'm calling in because something you're already providing has broken and I need it fixed, I pretty much guarantee that I'm not the receptive audience you're looking for to buy more product.

    That is all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Larry, 21 May 2007 @ 8:54am

    Re: Same issue, different outcome

    I (with Cox) traded my rental modem in and went and bought one. Plugged it in and nothing. Called Cox (after some troubleshooting effort) and they just asked for the MAC address of the new router and I'm off to the races. Took less than 5 minutes on the phone and less than a minute on hold waiting for a rep.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    TIMBOO, 27 May 2007 @ 10:50am

    Holes in COX customer service

    First of all I hate the way COX handles our calls if any.
    The machine first asks stupid questions adn when we answer, it interprets as something else.
    Then every rep asks for our address , name ( you have to spell it out a few times -- deaf morons). Then they ask for PIN number and also last 4 of SSN.
    So ifyou call COX

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Junestone, 17 Jun 2007 @ 11:28am

    Cox Cable Internet

    Cox Cable Internet service is the worst service I've ever had. It is riddled with brown-outs. I play a lot of games online and their service drops-out all the time. Their customer service is limp, their techs ex-burger joint flunkies, and their pipeline clogged like a 90-year old bacon eating champion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Paul Mbekki, 6 Jul 2007 @ 4:26am

    Football Association (NSSA).

    From the desk.
    National Sports
    Council of South African
    Football Association (NSSA)

    Attention: Sir,

    The national sports council of South African football association (NSSAA) in conjunction with local organizing committee (LOC) is requesting the attention of the concerned person who is willing to present their company product or interested in the contract in the development and rehabilitation of the Lighting, Hospital Equipments and Cable supply for the world cup stadia and Hotels in south Africa for the 2010 world cup.

    The requirement needed for the rehabilitation of the Stadia for the 2010 world cup been hosted by South Africa, include the light rehabilitation, installation of digital cameras and maintenances and installation of cables and all kinds of cables you can think of General product is needed for this rehabilitation of the Stadium for the 2010 world cup been hosted by South Africa.

    Interested persons or company should respond back as soon as possible for the effect of coming to South Africa to sign the contract.
    World Cup 2010 Stadiums:

    N.B: Five of South Africa's football stadiums will undergo renovations for 2010; Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the Royal Bafokeng stadium and the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

    New stadiums will be built at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth. Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo will be rebuilt, as will King Senzangakhona Stadium in Durban.
    Kings Park and Green Point stadium in Cape Town will become completely new multi-sport facilities, Green Point complete with a retractable dome to protect fans and players from the Cape's unpredictable winter weather.

    Paul Mbekki.
    National Sports Council of South African
    Football Association (NSSA).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Trent, 20 Aug 2007 @ 2:39am

    Re: I do know I Just work here

    I do know, as I work @ Qwest. In my opinion the call metric's have not changed but the way Qwest corporate now routes the calls DID! Previous months calls (before July)consisted mostly of bill questions, customers with changes to current service, new connects, transfers in service, downgrades in service ect. Now, most calls are re-routes from the repair Q, disconnects, escalations (very unhappy customers), with little to NO (as we call them) money calls! This will impact customers in this way! The money calls are routed to other call centers that have new reps (the ones just hired @ $8.50 hr)(yes that's correct)who are unable to service the customer needs because of lack of experience. Will jamb on additional services without the customers knowledge(which is illegal)but must sell something per HOUR! to keep their jobs! Then they transfer the call to us, to fix whatever the customer really wanted. As they must get on to the next call to strip the money off that customer & go on to the next! The word from the top is that call center has as many new people coming in as going out. They are firing as fast as hiring.
    The result is this. Qwest looks good to a possible new prospective corporate buyer with revenues going up. (in crammed sales) Is writing up people in the call center where there is no money calls to fire them in an effort to eliminate higher paid employee's, vacate that call center to then move the calls to the Philippines (where the broadband calls & some of the credit management calls now go). Covers its tail with the Feds & trade commission. "We're firing anyone cramming" But keeps any extra revenue. So two groups here suffer. Of course the customer paying the bills, and the experienced honest call center employee loosing their job.
    And don't you just LOVE talking to those foreign people you can't understand? And now that credit management is overseas, what about YOUR social security number in the trusted hands of foreigners? Are you OK with that? Of course all this is just my opinion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2008 @ 8:02am


    I totally disagree. Since Charter has been using foreigners as customer service reps, I have had nothing but trouble. What should take 5-10 minutes on the phone has taken over an hour with no resolution. Their executive officers don't give a flying fig about customer service either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Sarah, 17 Feb 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Wow! Seems like a lot of trouble. Working for DISH we try to make sure all our customers are treated right. We try to have all the best promotions for our customers as well. For you to have problems with your service is never good. Cable companies may need a little work on something. We all kind of do but how can you go so wrong with HD free for life and TV everywhere with DISH? I just don't see where you can.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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