Light Reading
Cable companies rank lowest in customer satisfaction for both video and Internet service, so vendors are now trying to help out, and cash in, with new data-driven support solutions.

Despite Efforts, Cable Service Still Sucks

Mari Silbey
5/20/2014
50%
50%

Nobody likes the cable guy.

In the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, US pay-TV providers and Internet service providers saw their customer satisfaction rankings fall again. And, as usual, US cable operators led the way down in both categories, with MSO giants Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) occupying the last two slots respectively.

As a group, pay-TV providers dropped another 4.4% in the ACSI rankings, scoring a total of 65 on a 100-point scale. The only companies that fared worse in the annual assessment of communications industries were Internet service providers. As a category, ISPs fell 3.1% to a score of 63. In both cases, cable operators ranked at the bottom of the pack,

The 2014 ACSI report is based on interviews with more than 12,000 consumers across six industries: cellular telephones, computer software, fixed-line telephone service, ISPs, subscription TV service, and wireless telephone service. Cellphone companies, with a score of 78, were the only ones to improve their industry ranking year over year, while both computer software and wireless service companies stayed steady with respective scores of 76 and 72. Fixed-line phone companies saw their industry rank drop 1.4% to 73.

Survey respondents blamed the drop in cable satisfaction scores on high subscription prices, unreliable service, poor performance, and poor customer support. And while cable companies may not want to lower their monthly fees, the continued negative response to customer support comes as a blow after the industry's very public efforts to boost service quality. Not too long ago, for instance, Time Warner Cable proclaimed that it has been "laser-focused on improving customer service and the customer experience." (See What's Next for TWC.)

Not only have cable executives made a point of saying that they're trying to do better, but they've also spent a good deal of money in the attempt. According to Alex Mitchell, president and founder of self-service technology company StepOne, Inc., cable and telecom providers have opened their wallets wide in an effort to improve customer support.

"That is the largest sub-segment of spending in the CRM support [market] [It's] telco and cable providers," Mitchell told Light Reading.

StepOne launched its own customer relationship management product last week, called Contextual Care. It has already landed Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), Australia's largest telecom company, and an unnamed US Tier 1 cable operator as customers.

The StepOne technology predicts subscriber problems through contextual information, such as order and product status, billing data, location, and more. The software then triggers a response so that users are presented with relevant support information. Over time, the self-service platform adapts to user behavior and improves support recommendations accordingly.

In Telstra's case, the telecom company is combining StepOne's Contextual Care product with smart tags on products, which embed a near-field communications (NFC) code, a service code, and a QR code. Customers can scan these codes with a mobile device and find out how to resolve support issues.

Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), a leader in the telecom back office market, has also been working on addressing customer support problems through data analysis and predictive algorithms. One solution that the company highlighted recently at The Cable Show is Proactive Care. Proactive Care allows service providers to leverage structured and unstructured data to try to pre-empt service calls and improve customer retention rates. Amdocs also has a Social Care solution for managing customer support over social networks and an Order to Activation solution for guiding the customer process from service order and service activation.

As cable's customer satisfaction scores keep dropping, there are a wide array of solution providers looking to help companies improve their service records. Market pressure has put customer support high on the cable priority list, and the higher the priority, the higher the budget. So some firms are primed to cash in on cable's woes.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(26)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
SReedy
50%
50%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/23/2014 | 11:56:12 AM
Re: My TV Update
For the first time ever, AT&T called yesterday to see how I liked my U-Verse service...the day after I canceled it. And when I told him I canceled, he said "okay, thank you for using AT&T U-Verse. Have a nice day!" Hilarious. Right idea; very wrong timing.
SReedy
50%
50%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/22/2014 | 12:38:09 PM
Re: My TV Update
Nevermind, I am back to hating their customer service. After he switched my services, none of my devices will connect to WiFi outside of my laptop, and Comcast will charge me to tell me how to connect them...Wow.
FakeMitchWagner
50%
50%
FakeMitchWagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/21/2014 | 9:50:21 PM
Re: Laser focus
KBode - "After ten years of bad reports like this an bi-annual promises that things are getting better, I think one thing is pretty clear: Time Warner Cable and Comcast don't really care what we think or about reports like this. They probably care a little about the bad press, but pretty clearly they've been so confident in earnings, subscriber adds and retention rates they just figure it's ok to ignore these."

Indeed. Investors care about profits. They only care about customer satisfaction to the extent that it impacts profits. 

"If more people voted with their wallet (or we had more competition so people COULD vote with their wallet) ... "

That's the key: If you're unhappy with your cable provider, where are you going to go? Your phone company is probably similar. 
FakeMitchWagner
50%
50%
FakeMitchWagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/21/2014 | 9:45:08 PM
Re: Laser focus
I wonder if more competition would result in better customer service. 
FakeMitchWagner
50%
50%
FakeMitchWagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/21/2014 | 9:36:03 PM
Re: Comcast
14 is low. IIRC, I get 24 Mb at my home office. 

At the airport now-- rocking a big 2.7 Mb here. 
SReedy
50%
50%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/21/2014 | 6:02:44 PM
My TV Update
Got my Comcast installed today and canceled U-Verse. Must give credit where it's due, both companies were lovely to work with. It was funny, however, that I got a much better offer from AT&T now that I actually canceled and it's too late. In fact, if I would've gotten this when I just threatened to leave, I would've probably stayed. He said faster Internet speeds at $100, down from the $170 I was paying. I have a feeling it was too good to be true once I dug into it, but he did give me his personal email if I ever change my mind.
VictorRBlake
50%
50%
VictorRBlake,
User Rank: Lightning
5/21/2014 | 7:55:35 AM
Re: Service vs. Customer Service
davidhoffman,

 

While what you say may be true in some individual markets, it isn't universally so. In many markets the telcos (AT&T or Verizon) offer FTTH services with the same or higher data rates. More broadly VDSL is widely available in large markets and is obviously a competitive price/feature product.

But notably if you look at markets where there is NO CABLE service at all, customer service ratings for telcos are even lower. That is to say, where there is no competition customer service is worst.

Your argument, if i understand correctly, is that ADSL is not competitive, well it might not be in some markets, but in others it might be available where cable is not.

I think my point still holds true, which is that customer service in telecom -- wireless, telco, and cable is notoriously poor. I think its worth understanding and fixing, but I don't think the majority of complaints are about the product itself -- they are more often about customer interactions with the company, billing issues, etc.
davidhoffman
50%
50%
davidhoffman,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/21/2014 | 5:42:35 AM
The only way to get improvement is with competition.
Look what has occcurred in Kansas City KS and Kansas City MO. Google Fiber comes in, and after a relatively short interval, Time Warner Cable(TWC) brings in some technicians who actually have some knowledge, tools, parts, and authority to fix problems that TWC subscribers in the area have complained about for many years. TWC was not going to do anything to fix these issues on its own in a monopoly environment.

We in the USA need some way to encourage and support alternative wireline service providers. Municipal public utility FTTH or Google Fiber type arrangements to get the cable industry to take the customer service issue seriously. One of the interesting stories that is told about the Chattanooga TN EPB Fiber deployment is how much EBP had to upgrade its customer service in going from being an electric power public service company to an electric power service company and triple play FTTH service company. What was acceptable customer service as an electric power delivery company was determined to be unacceptable as a FTTH triple paly service provider. EPB was worried they could loose the whole FTTH deal because they would not be able to deliver a better customer service experience than the local cable company, so they had to make sure they exceeded in a positive way the customer service level of the local cable company. 
davidhoffman
50%
50%
davidhoffman,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/21/2014 | 5:21:08 AM
Re: Service vs. Customer Service
If cable and telephone company services were roughly equal you could state that the subscription percentages show that cable is the preferred service. Sadly the services are not roughly equal. Th typical telephone company triple play offering involves limited low end ADSL2+ internet speeds(below 3 Mbps in the real world), telephone voice, and an offer to use satellite pay TV through some coordination with Dish Network or DirecTV. 

We in the USA do not have large scale widespread ubiquitious VDSL2 based telephone company offerings to seriously compete with cable DOCSIS 3.0 internet services, VOIP, and video(TV) offerings. We also have numerous multifamily(apartment) building owners who strictly interpret the FCC OTARD rules, thus limiting the ability to use satellite pay TV. 

The end result is that cable triple play, or at least double play for video and internet, is the only "choice" available.

We need more competition in the wireline market, perhaps by easing the rules about public utility municipal FTTH deployment.
victorblake
50%
50%
victorblake,
User Rank: Lightning
5/20/2014 | 9:34:00 PM
Service vs. Customer Service
Mari,

 

I think there are two different terms here potentially being used interchangeably. The first is the service and how it works. In the case of a service provider -- the service is their "product." I think the macro enconomics show that cable services (having more than 60% of broadband market share in the US) are preferred over telco services. That is "a better product."

The second term is "customer service". As we all know, this is not how the product or service works, but how -- for example, the company providing the service responds to customer queries, handles billing, makes customer appointments, and other interactions with the customer. Its an area of great challenge for all telecom operators (telcos and wireless operators also have notoriously poor customer service).

I think it is important to distinguish between the two and unfortunately I feel that the title of your article is either potentially misleading or at the minimum blurs the disctinction between the two terms.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Telefonica Spain Considers Antenna Selection for LTE Network Deployment

7|4|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Tony Conlan, Global CTO of RAN, Telefonica, shares his opinion on antennas in LTE network deployment: Tower space is the premier requirement on antennas; reliability is important to reduce OPEX; and EasyRET solution will be helpful for antenna maintenance.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
dtac Thailand: Multi-band Antenna & Capacity Solution for a Better MBB Experience

7|3|14   |   3:45   |   (0) comments


With the development of LTE, tower space and load are limited for new antenna, but users' capacity requirements are growing fast. To provide a better MBB experience, Panya Vechbanyongratana from dtac Thailand shared his experiences and antenna requirements.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Panel: Network of the Future

7|2|14   |   1:00:57   |   (0) comments


Full-length video of the ATIS Panel Discussion: 'How Far Away Is the Network of the Future & What Does It Look Like?' from the Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago.
LRTV Custom TV
Redknee Supports BH Telecom With Redknee Unified

7|2|14   |   6.14   |   (0) comments


Lucas Skoczkowski, CEO of Redknee, and Amir Orucevic, Director BH Mobile, discuss how the benefits of the Redknee Unified suite of products provide BH Telecom with innovation and leadership in the market, with the flexibility to launch services faster to the market, provide new and compelling promotions and pricing models, and combine services in order to drive ...
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
Infographics
Allot's latest MobileTrends Charging Report shows that value-based pricing plans are up from 35% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
Hot Topics
Microsoft to Axe 12,500 Ex-Nokia Employees
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/17/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Have IBM & Apple Partnered Their Way to Cloud Leadership?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/18/2014
Will Telecom's 'Open' Be Natural or Organic?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/15/2014
Analytics, Security Key to Apple, IBM Tie-Up
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed