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Measuring Customer Service

We’re constantly deluged with customer service reports concluding that consumers are less satisfied with their subscription TV than with other product/service sectors. These reports typically include comparisons with banks, hotels, airlines, kitchen appliances, health care products and you-name-it.

That got me thinking. I wonder how many “truck rolls” banks have? Do they send over a repair technician to a customer’s house to fix a money market account that is on the fritz?

Pardon me for being a facetious, but you can see my point. Some of the industries that multichannel TV is compared to are really no comparison.

A bank customer’s money resides at the bank, which makes resolving issues easier than repairing a fixed wire system in a home. If a microwave oven doesn’t work, it’s no big deal for a store to cheerfully offer to exchange the merchandise because it’ll get a credit from the manufacturer under warranty. Just bring it back next time you go shopping.

That’s not to say cable TV – of all the multichannel platforms – doesn’t have a problem, though it is increasingly being resolved. I’d say consumer perception is lagging real world gains. With satellite TV and telco video, cable had no choice but to clean up its act with investment in systems and call centers. Again, comparisons are a bit skewed because with cable voice and cable modems, the industry is rolling out new products—which certainly have teething issues.

I’m impressed that cable is showing savvyness in resource allocation. At the NCTA convention in May, a seminar titled Consider It Done: Cable’s Customer Care Crusade showed this is a priority and revealed a sophistication in focusing resources. Cable systems are putting in place systems that give big spenders a priority when they call customer service and the chronic complainers go to the end of the line.

The fairness of that can be debated, but it’s smart business, which is why cable system stocks are soaring on Wall Street.