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Comporium Heeds Caller ID on TV

Caller ID on TV service is “sticky” for Comporium Communications customers, with 25% of triple-play customers stating that the feature is the main reason they stay with the South Carolina provider.

In a survey conducted by Comporium and its caller-ID technology vendor, Integra5 of Burlington, Mass., 78% of consumers said they like the feature more than HDTV or digital video recorder services sold by Comporium.

NO EXTRA CHARGE

Part of that satisfaction may be due to the price: All digital TV and telephone customers get caller ID as a free add-on, whereas there's an extra charge for HDTV and DVR connectivity.

More than 3,500 Comporium customers responded to the survey, according to Integra-5. Integra5 CEO Meredith Flynn-Ripley was pleased with the results because they came from actual product users and are not based on responses to a theoretical product.

“We're pleased to see just as high a ranking as we anticipated,” she said.

Comporium commercially launched Caller ID on TV in June 2004. Since that year, the company's annual system-wide customer satisfaction rates have risen, said executive vice president of operations Glenn McFadden. Comporium respondents rated the company with an “A” average for the first time this year, he said. That jibes with the Caller ID survey, where 30% of respondents said they would be more likely to rate a company “great” rather than “good” due to the availability of Caller ID on TV.

Consumers become advocates for the service, too: 90% of the Integra5 respondents said they tell neighbors or friends about the service, while 94% leave the feature active all the time, even though it is possible to disable it.

The efficiency of the feature can be a little disconcerting. The ID actually hits the TV screen before the phone rings. McFadden said a man the executive met in a convenience store said his wife “thought God was talking to her” when the TV told her someone was calling before the phone rang.

WILLING TO PAY

The companies also asked consumers to state how much they would pay for the feature if they moved to another area and had to buy Caller ID on TV. Ninety percent of respondents said they'd pay $1 a month for the feature, 70% said they'd pay $2 and more than 50% put the value at over $3 a month.

But McFadden said Comporium would not charge.

“We've seen losses in wireline [businesses across the country] of 5%, 10%, 15%. We're at 3%. We're looking for more added value products,” he said.

Comporium plans to add its next value-added product, Caller ID on PC, also by Integra5, by the end of this year.

Executives said the company is interested in new innovations from Integra5, such as on-screen text-messaging, which will allow a viewer to respond with a selection of stock answers they can select with a TV remote, or click through to answer the text with a telephone call via their handset.

Though Comporium is an innovator in the deployment of this product, Flynn-Ripley said Integra5 has customer agreements with 16 companies including Knology Inc., WideOpenWest and Everest Communications.